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How Can Nick Merkley Help Sharks?

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The San Jose Sharks have traded defenseman Christian Jaros to the New Jersey Devils for winger Nick Merkley.

This, by the way, is the depth trade that I hinted at two days ago:

The 25-year-old Jaros appeared in seven NHL games last year for San Jose, notching one assist. The 24-year-old Merkley — no relation to Ryan — recorded two goals and eight assists in 27 contests with New Jersey.

Merkley is an RFA, so the San Jose Sharks will have to qualify him by 2 PM PT today.

So what does the 5-foot-11 winger bring to the Sharks?

“He has shown good progression in his young career and adds versatility to our organization’s forward depth,” Sharks assistant general manager and Barracuda GM Joe Will said in a press release.

Usually, it’s Doug Wilson who supplies the press release quotes — so let’s say it’s not a given that Merkley appears for the San Jose Sharks next year.

That said, an NHL scout provided a rosier outlook on the former first-round pick. Merkley went 30th to Arizona in 2015.

“His foot speed is just okay, but he’s got good hands, good compete, and plays well when he’s physically engaged,” the scout told San Jose Hockey Now. “Good around the net and goes to the hard areas. I liked him in New Jersey, he played well, but younger guys moved ahead of him, I think.”

So he’s a more offensive fourth-liner? Shades of say Stefan Noesen?

“He’s better than Noesen,” the scout interjected. “Better finish, more hockey sense, a better offensive player.”

Expect Merkley to compete for a fourth-line job with the San Jose Sharks this fall.

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