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Avalanche reacquire Matt Nieto in 4-player trade with Sharks

10:13 PM ET
  • clark_ryan.png&h=80&w=80&scale=crop
    Ryan S. ClarkNHL reporter

The Colorado Avalanche brought back a familiar face Wednesday when they reacquired veteran two-way forward Matt Nieto from the San Jose Sharks.


Nieto, along with prospect defenseman Ryan Merkley, are going to the defending Stanley Cup champions in exchange for defenseman Jacob MacDonald and prospect forward Martin Kaut.


Adding Nieto gives the Avalanche a proven bottom-six forward who can provide contributions in a number of areas and offer production beyond Andrew Cogliano and Logan O'Connor.

Nieto has eight goals and 15 points in 45 games this season and is on pace for a 13-goal campaign, which would be the second most of his career. He previously played in Colorado for four seasons, from 2016-17 to 2019-20.

Furthermore, Nieto provides Avs coach Jared Bednar and his coaching staff someone who knows the dynamics of their penalty kill. The Avs enter Wednesday with the 20th-ranked penalty kill, with a 76.9% rage. As for the Sharks, they boast the No. 3 PK unit in the league, with Nieto receiving the second-most ice time among Sharks forwards.


In MacDonald, the Sharks receive a depth defenseman who has two points in 33 games while averaging 8:39 in ice time with the Avs in the wake of their injuries.


Nieto will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, while MacDonald has one year left on a contract that will see him earn $762,500.

Exchanging Kaut and Merkley presents a change for a pair of 2018 first-round picks who struggled to make an impact in the NHL.


Kaut, who went 16th, was projected to be a top-nine, two-way forward who spent the majority of his time with the Avs' AHL affiliate but struggled to find the consistency to break into a top-nine role. Kaut has three points while averaging 9:08 in 27 games.


Merkley, who went 21st, came with the promise of potentially becoming a top-four, puck-moving defenseman. He averaged 0.47 points per game over 93 games in the AHL but could not replicate those numbers with the Sharks, having averaged 0.15 points in 39 games.


Both Kaut and Merkley will be restricted free agents at the end of the season.

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Merkley is god awful and will never ever be an nhl player-period full stop. Waste of a first round pick.


  Nieto is a great get, played in Colorado, knows the system, knows his role, will be a great penalty killer and 4th line guy who can occasionally score a goal. Fantastic piece for an Avalanche team that has been rotating 4th liners in and out all year trying to make something click. Great, great add.


  Kaut will play middle six minutes and be given a chance. His numbers have been solid in the AHL but not much in the NHL but the metrics suggest he has been drawing a ton of defensive zone time, playing on that mishmashed 4th line. 15-16 minutes a night with Hertl or Couture, not saying he is gonna be a player suggesting that he MIGHT. Now is his time to either prove it or go back to Europe. He will be given a chance.


 MacDonald has a rep as a defensive zone guy who kills penalties. I watched all of the Sharks/Wings game the other night and the Sharks defense is dreadful, other than Karlsson they looked like they were afraid of the puck and were simply dreadful. Reimer had to stop at least four or five shots from in close when the defense allowed the forwards past them. Larkin particular, although he only had one assist he had four or five absolutely great reads and only Reimer stopped him. Mac Should help some with that,


 So Colorado got what they wanted, on the cheap they fixed their 4th line with an old friend who knows the system. If Merkley develops (he wont. Think Ho Sang attitude but less talent) fine that would just be a bonus.


 San Jlose to me won this deal, Kaut will get an extended look, Macdonald steps into a top four blueline role and brings a calm to the back end. Nieto is much more valuable to Colorado than he is to San Jose who needs pieces to buildon going forward. Kaut may or may not be that guy but it is a low cost to see if he is.

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