John Hefti - USA TODAY Sports

San Jose Sharks acquire Jacob MacDonald, Martin Kaut from Colorado Avalanche for Ryan Merkley, Matt Nieto

The San Jose Sharks and Colorado Avalanche have exchanged two former high-profile prospects in a late-Wednesday trade with one another – the former sending Ryan Merkley and Matt Nieto over the Rocky Mountains while Martin Kaut and Jacob MacDonald make their way to the Bay Area.

The move comes less than a month after several credible reports indicated that Merkley's camp had requested a trade from the Sharks. Now they get their wish. A fresh start on a team with legitimate Stanley Cup aspirations and injuries that are likely to afford him opportunities to prove his mettle that were so hard to come by with the team that drafted him.

Merkley, 22, was a first-round pick of the Sharks back in 2018, when the club took him with the 21st overall pick. It was a bet on upside. The then-18-year-old had flashed so much potential as an offensive defenceman in his draft year, and many respected analysts saw fit to place him in their top 10.

It never seemed to come together for Merkley as he ascended to professional hockey though. He put up good-not-great counting stats with the San Jose Barracuda in the AHL and didn't quite look the part when NHL opportunities presented themselves.

Kaut, meanwhile, walked that same stage in the American Airlines Center back in 2018 only five spots earlier than Merkley after putting together an exceptionally strong statistical profile in the Czech Extraliga at only 18-years-old.

The Czech forward showed promise early in his post-draft career, but mounting injuries kept him from seizing on his potential. As Avalanche forwards dropped like flies with injuries this season, it seemed like the time was now for Kaut to prove his quality. Instead, he leaves the organization with just three points to show for 27 games this season and six total across 46 games.

The hope is that all they need is a change of scenery to get their careers back on track, and it would seem that their former employers were happy to oblige them.

MacDonald isn't exactly a household name. He'll settle into the Sharks organization as depth. Nieto could have some utility to an Avalanche group that's suffered among the worst injury luck in the NHL this season though. And they've some familiarity with the player, too. That helps.

You may also be interested in:
What We Learned: After slow start, are the Avalanche back?
What We Learned: After slow start, are the Avalanche back?
This article is about:
NHL Colorado Avalanche Colorado Eagles San Jose Barracuda San Jose Sharks NHL AHL Martin Kaut Jacob MacDonald Ryan Merkley Matt Nieto
Scoring Leaders