San Jose Sharks trade Nieto and Merkley to Colorado Avalanche for Kaut and MacDonald

The San Jose Sharks have traded forward Matt Nieto and defenseman Ryan Merkley to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for forward Martin Kaut and defenseman Jacob MacDonald, the clubs announced Wednesday night.

The deal marks something of a homecoming for Nieto, who previously played for the Avalanche between 2017 and 2020 – despite being from Long Beach, Calif., and also having two stints with the Sharks during his career.

Nieto, 30, is a 5’11 » winger who is signed through the end of the 2022-23 season with an NHL cap of $850,000. He has eight goals and 15 points in 45 games with the Sharks this year.

Merkley, 22, has spent the entire season to date with the Sharks’ AHL affiliate, the San Jose Barracuda, where he has 14 points (all assists) in 30 games. The 6′ right-handed defender is expected to become a restricted free agent in July.

Kaut, 23, split the 2022-23 season between the Avalanche and the AHL’s Colorado Eagles. A 6’2″ right winger, Kaut has one goal and three points in 27 NHL games with the Avalanche this year; for his career, he has six points in 47 NHL games. Like Merkley, Kaut is in the final year of his entry-level contract.

MacDonald, 29, is a journeyman left-handed defenseman with 76 games of NHL experience. The 6′ guard had two assists and an 8:40 average in 33 appearances with the Avalanche in 2022-23. He signed through 2024 with an NHL cap of $762,500.

Both Kaut and Merkley were first-round picks in their respective draft years; Nieto and MacDonald are veterans playing opposite roles.

The defending Stanley Cup champion Avalanche currently sit third in the Central Division with a 26-17-3 record in 46 games this season. Meanwhile, the Sharks 14–25–10 sit seventh in the Pacific Division.

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