Connect with us

San Jose Barracuda

BREAKING: Merkley, Nieto Traded to Avs

Published

on

Credit: Hockey Shots/Dean Tait

Ryan Merkley’s time with the San Jose Sharks is over.

Merkley, the Sharks’ 2018 first-round pick, was traded, along with stalwart penalty killer Matt Nieto, to the Colorado Avalanche for their 2018 first-round pick Martin Kaut and depth NHL defenseman Jacob MacDonald.

Both Merkley, the No. 21 pick of the 2018 Draft, and Czech forward Kaut, the No. 16 pick, saw their progress stall in the respective organizations. So much so, Merkley requested a trade in early January, while Kaut passed through waivers unclaimed twice this season. Both players’ entry-level contracts expire after this season.

Offensive defenseman Merkley has accumulated two goals and 42 assists in 93 AHL games, and a goal and five assists in 39 NHL contests. The 22-year-old, however, hasn’t played an NHL contest this season, toiling entirely with San Jose Barracuda.

Merkley’s Offense As Much of a Problem As His Defense

Kaut has been a top-six forward for the Colorado Eagles but failed to stick in a bottom-six role with the Avalanche. The 6-foot-2 winger has 47 goals and 52 assists in 173 AHL appearances, and three goals and three assists in 47 NHL games. The 23-year-old has scored one goal and two assists in 27 games with the Avs this season.

For Colorado, Nieto should be an upgrade over Kaut in a depth role. The 30-year-old has moonlighted as a second-line winger this season, notching eight goals and seven assists in 45 games. He’s not likely to have that job on a deeper Avalanche squad but should be a reliable bottom-six energy forward and penalty killer.

Nieto Making Most of Opportunity on Scoring Line

Nieto also played for the Avs from 2017 to 2020, after, you guessed it, making his NHL debut for the San Jose Sharks in 2013. He signed with San Jose as a UFA in Oct. 2020. So the 10-year NHL veteran has the unusual distinction of having made four NHL stops, but with just two teams. He will be a UFA after this season.

MacDonald is a two-time AHL All-Star Team defenseman, who also has 76 NHL games to his credit. The 29-year-old has zero goals and two assists in 33 games for the Avalanche this season.

The Cornell University product toiled in the ECHL and AHL for four seasons before he earned an NHL contract with the Florida Panthers in Jul. 2018. The next year, the Panthers traded the 6-foot-0 blueliner to the Avalanche for Dominic Toninato, and he’s been part of the Colorado organization since. MacDonald is in the first season of a two-year contract with a $762,500 cap hit.

In all honesty, I’m not sure if Kaut or MacDonald will move the needle much for the San Jose Sharks, but they could be high-end acquisitions for the San Jose Barracuda. With the Sharks well out of the playoff race, I believe GM Mike Grier wants very much for the Barracuda to make the post-season to give top prospects William Eklund and Thomas Bordeleau some valuable playoff experience.

The Barracuda are hanging onto the seventh-and-last playoff spot in the Pacific Division, just ahead of the Henderson Silver Knights and Bakersfield Condors.

Welcome to your new home for San Jose Sharks breaking news, analysis and opinion. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and don't forget to subscribe to SJHN+ for all of our members-only content from Sheng Peng and the National Hockey Now network plus an ad-free browsing experience.
55 Comments
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
55 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Falco5

So we got nothing for nieto?! Is this not terrible?

Bob D

We didn’t need another 5th round draft pick. Did you think he was worth more?

david barnard

we need all of the draft picks we can get.

KE

I saw this breaking news on the NHL site – and wondered too what could either player do for Sharks. I also don’t understand why another Left Shot D man – Sharks have plenty. Is it easier to be a left shot than right? Seems like that’s the most popular

Guess it’s starting for the Sharks – Bankers next or Reimer. Goalie Andersen of the Canes got hurt tonight in the game against Dallas. Not sure if it’s long term but it doesn’t look good since he just came back from being hurt

And so it begins.

Bobdobbs

MacDonald is an acquisition for the Barracuda.

david barnard

yay!

Smokingmiddletons

Plattner must’ve ordered Grier to make the Barracuda better after building that stadium. I guess it makes some sense, but I still don’t like it.

Bob Bummer

I hope Nieto retires as a Shark!

Zeke

I don’t like the trade. It feels impatient. Nieto is the lone proven NHL player in the deal, and that oughta mean something. Not that it is earthshaking and I agree with Sheng’s assessment about making the ‘cuda better — and that guys like Bordeleau could use some playoff experience in the AHL. The other positive — it makes it more likely for quality vets to sign with San Jose. Sharks need leaders to help the younger players who’ll (hopefully) become the future. Guys like Nieto, Cogliano and Bonino know they aren’t going to get great offers from top teams.… Read more »

BrianJ

Sounds like a better plan. According to Sheng, Kaut passed through waivers unclaimed twice this season. If the Sharks like Kaut, why didn’t they take him when Colorado waived him instead of giving up a player for him? Colorado needs an experienced, solid bottom six forward for they playoff run (bonus Nieto already played for Colorado), they probably would overpay for Nieto with a draft pick, instead the Sharks get a 29 year-old defensemen/forward who should probably play in a minor league. Merkley/Kaut, a typical trade in sports of two disappointing former first round selections. I think MacFarland beat Grier… Read more »

Bob D

I think you are really overvaluing the shark players; They are getting back really what the players are worth to the league. The goal here is to clear cap space and rebuild, it’s hard to find suckers when you don’t really have any greatly wanted assets to deal, or leverage. What did you think you were gonna get for burns or Nieto or Merkley? Three first round picks? Grier wins just by making cap space, or should we have got Slavin and a 2nd for Burns? Nobody really wants the shark players, or they want them for nothing. It’s not… Read more »

Zeke

fwiw, I didn’t suggest the Avs give up for much for Nieto. Colorado getting a known quantity for very little isn’t much of an ‘ask’.

david barnard

oh, they valued Burns, look how much they’re playing him, lol! they just fleeced GMMG!

tbf, Burns and CAR held all of the cards, so they could bend the rookie GM over a barrel.

Last edited 11 days ago by david barnard
Bob D

He was building goodwill with the other GM’s😀 What was the more important goal, to keep another overpay dman on a losing team or build some cap space for a rebuilt? And we still had to eat some salary. Burns is only looking good because he’s playing on a better team

Anson

You mean hi +4 after 3 seasons of -13, -15, and -22 have to do with him being on a better team? Weird.

Nick

“Burns is only looking good because he’s playing on a better team.” BS. Any player looks better on a better team with better line mates and d partners. BTW, Burns is still good and has value. He’s just not what he was years ago. On a better team, they can limit his role as needed. And stating he’s still good does not equate to me saying he should have returned two 1st round picks. Stop being such a simpleton, dumbing down the conversation by blowing out of proportion your way off base take on what other people think. Nobody even… Read more »

Kristian

I would say there’s a huge gap between what you’re suggesting and nothing, which is what the Sharks received.

Smokingmiddletons

Debrincat was worth a haul apparently, anything less for Meier will be a a huge fail. These players don’t come around very often. Meier is a weird hybrid of a power forward and a sniper. Not many comps for that kind of player, at least none that I can think of that have been on pace for 50 goals. Wilson always got top dollar for his garbage.

jamnjon

The cap impact was extremely negligible, so I’m not sure why you’re bringing that up. Both of the outgoing players were on expiring contracts and we don’t care too much about cap space for the rest of this season, Kaut and Merkley are in the minors and have a low enough cap hit that it can be completely buried, and the difference in cap hit between Nieto and MacDonald is $87,500 total. I’m also not sure how the bonuses are structured on Kaut and Merkley’s contracts and it’s possible that Kaut will actually cost some money against the cap either… Read more »

david barnard

he is more expensive: P.Bonus is $300K (Merkley) and $425K (Kaut). base salary is the same for both. no S.bonus left on either.

all P.bonuses are paid as they are earned.

Last edited 10 days ago by david barnard
Douglas Fowler

Completely agree with both comments. Worried so far on GM MG…not exactly looking like Stevie Y moves

Smokingmiddletons

MG misses the 90s when you could check a player through the boards on not get a suspension. Personally, if I was gonna make a bad trade, I’d just keep merkley for the principle instead and let him sit at home. Can’t just let your players walk out the door whenever they feel like it. What’s up with meier not having contract talks? That is an egregious thing to do, to not negotiate with your best forward because it’s “expensive”. Drop some of the dummies we picked up and we’ll have cap room. I’ll gladly lose Kunin and barabonov for… Read more »

david barnard

1 reason is that a waiver’s claim has to go on your roster.

BrianJ

Look at the players on the Sharks! Easy to send a Shark to the minors, I won’t mention any names.

david barnard

sure, just wanted to point that out to folks that might not have realized it.

david barnard

better knock it outta the park on the Timo trade, GMMG! this is meh!

david barnard

management’s gonna have egg on their face if Merkley becomes even a moderately successful NHL player with COL.

Patrick

He won’t.

david barnard

i’ll rem this comment. if you’re wrong, i’ll be calling you, “Starfish” from now on;P

Patrick

Merkley was a good pick for the sharks because he was high-risk/high-reward when they almost always went safe. He didn’t work out though. Time to cut bait. At this point Kaut has a much higher floor. Probably still a higher ceiling.

david barnard

Kaut’s just not nearly as talented with the tool set that Merkley has over him. Kaut’s also about a year older than Merkley, so room for “maturity”/growth even though they were in the same draft. at these young ages i think it matters some. draft picks taken in the range of 16-31 have an NHL certainty of 65%. Kaut’s current probability is 70%, while Merkley’s is 75%. Kaut’s got some useful 4th line upside vs. Merkley’s 2nd pair upside, so not really seeing your way on this. it’s possible Kaut has some mult-category upside that Merkley doesn’t, which could increase… Read more »

Last edited 10 days ago by david barnard
Nick

I’m not a fan of Kaut, but I don’t agree at all on Merk’s upside. He will never be a 2nd pairing d. He’s a mental black hole, as we called them back in the day. It’ll take him forever to grasp the details of the game that he needs to if he ever does. Who cares if his offense comes around if he costs your team in so many other ways? He can’t, and won’t escape the shadow of his own mental gravity, hence the black hole. You either see it or you don’t.

KE

I agree – he’s lazy when he’s almost at sea level – I can’t imagine what’s going to happen when he tries to play in altitude – going to take him a long while to adjust.

BrianJ

The trade basically forces Merkley to make more of an effort and put more focus on defense if he wants to play in the NHL and no more confrontation with Sharks management about not working hard enough on defense.

With an attitude change and new coaches he could possibly play in the NHL with Colorado or with a lower level team.

KE

Altitude and Attitude will be his undoing

david barnard

it’s worth noting that part of the reason Kaut also hasn’t stuck is that his play has also been “inconsistent”.

Smokingmiddletons

If I was about to trade one of the hottest items on the trade market, I wouldn’t be letting people know you can fleece me. I hope I’m wrong about these moves. Just don’t see the point of not giving some of these guys a cup of coffee when the guys on the roster can’t get it done, and then trading them for practically nothing. If they sucked they shouldn’t have affected the tank. Strange moves, and the rest of the leagues GMs are watching.

I miss looking forward to shark trades.

Bob D

And so it begins. Kaut was selected 5 spots ahead of the great Merkley. And he’s big. Another middle finger to the previous regime, It’s Mike Grier’s world now.. I’m loving it (thanks DT)

Smokingmiddletons

He’s 6’ 2” and weighs 190. If I work out a few days a week I weigh 185 and I’m 5 11. No one has ever though I was big in my life lol.

Zeke

fwiw, Nieto has 8 even strength goals this season, tied with about 40 players around 150th in the league. With 32 teams, that’d make him about the 5-6th highest goal scorer on a typical team. Among guys with 8 ESG who’ve played similar number of games as Nieto: Jonathan Marchesseault, Reilly Smith, Gus Nyquist, Jordan Eberle, Jamie Benn, Mathew Barzal(!!). Among guys with 7 ESG — 1 less than Nieto: Brad Marchand, Patrick Kane, Elias Lindholm, Ryan Johansen and Joe Pavelski People can talk Nieto down, but he’s a legit NHL player, a good PK guy on one of the… Read more »

KE

Maybe he is just a loner and will be back – ya never know.

David Gotlieb

barzal are we still doing #CouldOfHad 😉

david barnard

Barzal’s very good. he’s got a career EV scoring rate of 0.86 (70.5 points in 82 GP) to TM’s 0.70 (57.4). TM’s is higher the last 2 seasons, but Barzal has needed better wingers over that time and TM has played with the Shark’s best. they also play different positions. the Sharks arguably needed a future #1C (Hertl’s career 0.68 scoring pace at EV), and the only reason they chose Meier over him was due to the perception that Meier would be NHL ready and Barzal wouldn’t (which turned out to be wrong).

david barnard

that’s why goals-based analytics are problematic. too small of a sample size. also, his goal and points scoring pace is top 3 seasons in his career, so a little elevated from his average, probably due to better QoT he’s been able to play with this season.

those other players you listed are all way better producers. Nieto is a good, reliable, 4th line NHL F and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Anson

Maybe Grier is backfilling the Cuda to bring a couple guys up. I wonder what happens to our PK without Nieto?

Tyrone

The tank is so on they’re not even trying to hide it anymore. I guess if everyone else in the basement is doing it, I understand other teams following suit. Montreal shuts Caufield down for the season and the very next day Ottawa does the same with Norris. The trade deadline is going to be fun. Teams will be selling off everything in the hopes to plummet in the standings and secure the best odds of landing Bedard.

Anson

Let them fight for Bedard. If the Sharks secure the top pick, I would trade down a spot or two and get Fantilli or Carlsson. Our pipeline is full of undersized, skilled forwards. Bedard may be a superstar in the right setting, but I fear he would be the biggest bust in the NHL since Brian Lawton if he ended up on the Sharks.

jamnjon

That’s just an insane take. Sure, it’s possible Bedard ends up being a massive bust, but the odds are definitely slim. Nobody is even suggesting that any of the other picks are in the same league as him (skill-wise, I know there are plenty of other picks in the WHL), TSN recently put up a video where they ranked him compared to other first overall picks based on pre-draft data for all of them and positioned him as the third best in the last 20 years with only Crosby and McDavid above him, Ovechkin in 4th, Stamkos in 5th, …… Read more »

david barnard

Sid the Kid was “under-sized” too. Bedard’s right there with the true “generational talents”. you’d be a mad man to pass up the opportunity to draft this player.

Anson

Don’t get me wrong, Bedard is superbly skilled and may be a superstar. But I don’t see the Sharks building a team around a player like him. Also, it may seem like it’s only 2 inches. But 5’9 is much smaller than 5’11 (,Crosby) when it comes to the NHL. I guess we’ll see once Columbus, Anaheim, or whoever gets ahold of him. I can’t remember a generational talent in the NHL at 5’9. At least not in the modern era.

david barnard

he’s listed at 5’10” 185 lbs. Sid’s draft card listed him at 5’11 193 lbs., so not a lot of difference in size.

playing HS football, i was 5’10” 190 and taking on 6′ 200-230 linemen. it was a challenge, but i didn’t get trucked. my little bro played college LB at 5’9″ 210. it does get progressively harder at the higher levels to play against the size difference, but it really depends on the player and their role.

Last edited 9 days ago by david barnard
BOOMBA

Merkley won’t ever see the inside of the Ball Arena other than to see a game as a spectator after Colorado dumps his non-productive ass.

david barnard

hope you don’t put money on this bet.

Sheng’s Travel Fund

Help fund Sheng's travel! Every dollar goes to the cost of getting to and from Sharks road games.


Click here to contribute to Sheng's travel pool!

Get SJHN in your inbox!

Enter your email address to get all of our articles delivered directly to your inbox.

Hockey Shots

Extra Hour Hockey Training

Cathy’s Power Skating

Sharks Team & Cap Info

SJHN on Facebook

All the San Jose Sharks news that's fit to print

Enter your email to get the best Sharks coverage delivered straight to your inbox.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.