Let the trade madness begin.
Meanwhile, San Jose gets Jacob MacDonald and a name Avs fans will be intrigued to hear going the other way.
No, it is not Sam Girard.
Instead, it is Martin Kaut’s tenure as an Av coming to an end as he goes to the Bay Area.
Nieto returns to the Mile High City for his second stint in burgundy and blue. He was let go in free agency and signed with the Sharks after the 2019-20 season. Now, he returns in this trade with eight goals and seven assists in 45 games this season to his name at 30 years old.
Merkley, the second half of this deal, is a unique character to join the Avs organization. While he had reported issues with his behavior being drafted in the 2018 NHL Draft, he was drafted by the Sharks in the first round. He’s spent the majority of time in the AHL with the San Jose Barracuda, however.
The 22-year-old does have 39 career NHL games to his name with the Sharks, all coming in the 2021-22 season. In those 39 games, he has one goal and five assists from the blue line. In the AHL, his stats haven’t been too much better with only two goals but 42 assists in 91 games along with hindering attitude problems.
Merkley is an interesting one. Was considered to be one of the best defensemen in his draft class, but came with warning of potential behavioral issues. It was even reported that several teams had him on their DND lists— Jesse Montano (@jessemontano_) January 26, 2023
Very skilled, great skater. It hasn’t translated to pro yet pic.twitter.com/NIjGkTxnjq
Leaving the Avs organization are two unique names and faces this franchise has seen in the last few years. MacDonald looked as if he could come into his own and really become a solid third pair or seventh defenseman, even showcasing some forward play as well. Now, he heads to San Jose having played 33 games this year with no goals and two assists. While he too shuffled between Loveland and Denver, in 76 career NHL games he brings two goals and 10 assists to the Sharks who continue to rebuild.
Helping in their rebuild is Kaut, who in the eyes of many (including our own Jackie Kay) is seen as a failure to build on and didn’t develop well enough. Kaut had been a pedestal for debate with Avs fans this season but now heads to the Bay Area with 47 NHL games with three goals and assists under his belt. Again, he also fluctuated between the AHL and NHL. Instead of hoping and praying he will turn into an NHL star with the Avs, he now has the chance to do so and get regular NHL playing time with the Sharks which will only be beneficial to his career.
As for the new names, Nieto will likely slot in on the fourth line and give Jared Bednar some more depth and a familiar face to run the system down there. It may bring him some comfort in being able to run all four lines. Should Nieto score and assist and get going, it will look like a great deal in such a sense.
Meanwhile, Markley will give the Avs some more defensive depth should God forbid, more injuries occur on the back line. However, he doesn't quite have the talent to be an NHL regular or even be a reserve defender ahead of Kurtis MacDermid, Brad Hunt, or Andreas Englund at this point. Therefore, he will likely spend the rest of the season with the Colorado Eagles doing his best to continue his development and hopefully tie together some loose ends when it comes to his attitude issues.
What do we think of the trades, especially since it involves Kaut who has been a topic of debate for Avs fans for the last few years? Let us know in the comments below!