Ranking the Sharks’ 2022 Trade Deadline Moves

The 2022 NHL Trade Deadline was one of the most active trading periods in recent memory. Players were getting tossed around left and right for hefty returns. As expected, the San Jose Sharks did not miss an opportunity to get a piece of the action. They made a series of trades at the deadline, and none signaled a total rebuild or a push for the playoffs. Instead, they decided to make minor trades to aid their retooling process.

Related: Sharks 2022 Trade Deadline Preview

The Sharks spent most of the trade deadline trying to dangle their veteran and bottom-six forwards to see what they could get, however, they only got bites on a few trades. While they remained largely silent, the moves they did make could have considerable implications on the future.

Nick Merkley to the New York Rangers

The Sharks acquired Nick Merkley prior to the 2021-22 season. He spent the majority of the season with the San Jose Barracuda, but he did appear in nine NHL games. However, his tenure with the organization was short-lived, as they announced that Merkely was traded to the New York Rangers in exchange for defenseman Anthony Bitetto.

Nick Merkley Binghamton Devils
Nick Merkley, Binghamton Devils (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Bitetto has spent the entire season with the Hartford Wolf Pack in the American Hockey League (AHL). Most likely, he will report to the Barracuda once he arrives in San Jose, rather than get a jump to the NHL. However, the Sharks will likely give him a shot at one point considering the number of defensive losses they have suffered throughout the season.

This trade is hard to rank, primarily because of how insignificant it is. This was nothing more than a depth trade, so there are no real implications outside of one less depth forward, and one more depth defenseman for the Sharks. Even so, perhaps a change of scenery will do both of these players some good.

Alexei Melnichuk to the Tampa Bay Lightning

Alexei Melnichuk was originally signed as a free agent by the Sharks in May 2020, and spent the majority of his time with the organization with the Barracuda, except for a handful of NHL games here and there. However, Melnichuk never really found his game the way many expected, and as a result, the Sharks sent him to the Tampa Bay Lightning for forward Antoine Morand.

Alexei Melnichuk SKA St Petersburg
Alexei Melnichuk, SKA St Petersburg (Photo by Anatoly MedvedTASS via Getty Images)

Morand has never broken out of the AHL. He used to be a member of the San Diego Gulls before he found his way to the Syracuse Crunch. His point totals have never been exceptionally fantastic, and he will likely only get glimpses of the NHL throughout his career.

Similar to the Merkely trade, this trade is difficult to judge. Losing a goalie prospect would have been rough for the Sharks, but they made up for Melnichuk’s departure in a different trade. Morand will likely continue to play in the AHL. He has not shown that he will find a way to break his slump, but he was not expected to regardless. Either way, this trade has no real bearing on the Sharks’ future.

Andrew Cogliano to the Colorado Avalanche

Andrew Cogliano was a free agent signing of the Sharks this past offseason. He was expected to bring some grit and veteran leadership to the Sharks’ middle-six, and he achieved just that. He put up decent point totals, but it was obvious that he would be more useful on a playoff-bound team looking for a veteran presence. Cogliano’s primary quality is his ability to play hard. He has a no-quit attitude that championship teams desire. He may not score a lot, but he will work hard to win. As a result, the Sharks traded him to the Colorado Avalanche for a fifth-round pick.

Andrew Cogliano Dallas Stars
Andrew Cogliano with the Dallas Stars (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Trading Cogliano was a decent idea considering the odds of the Sharks making the playoffs this year. He will be a good depth player for the Avalanche in their playoff run, and the Sharks can now try to give their younger players more ice time until the season ends. Realistically, getting a fifth-round pick was all he was ever going to be worth, but it is better to get something for him than let him walk away for nothing once his contract expired in the offseason.

Jacob Middleton to the Minnesota Wild

Jacob Middleton being sent to the Minnesota Wild was the largest trade the Sharks made at the deadline. The Los Angeles Kings drafted Middleton in the seventh round of the 2014 Draft. This season was the first one he spent primarily in the NHL, and he was one of the most impactful defensemen the Sharks had. His point totals were not spectacular, but he was a physical presence who defended his team. As a result, the Sharks decided to pull the trigger when his value was at its highest for goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen and a fifth-round pick.

Jacob Middleton San Jose Sharks
Jacob Middleton, former San Jose Shark (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Kahkonen has had his ups and downs with the Wild organization. This season, he spent his time as a tandem with Cam Talbot before they acquired Marc-Andre Fleury. Due to their overabundance of goaltenders, they were able to let Kahkonen go, which resulted in him finding his way to the Sharks. So far this season, he has a .910 save percentage and a 2.87 goals-against average in 25 games.

This trade was a total victory for the Sharks. Middleton was a massive presence on the team, but the Sharks desperately needed more goaltending depth. Adin Hill has been injured for large chunks of the season, and James Reimer can only play at the level he’s at right now for so long. The Sharks are clearly throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks, and Kahkonen could potentially be an excellent goaltender to play with Hill into the future. He may not be the long-term solution, but he is nonetheless a solution.

Related: Hill has an Uncertain Future in San Jose

The Sharks were quieter at the trade deadline than many people expected. Reimer was in talks to potentially be traded, but nothing seemed to have come of those discussions. However, with another year under contract, the Sharks will probably revisit this option in the offseason. As far as a rebuild, they have not tipped the needle one way or the other at this year’s deadline. They made some decent trades, but it looks like fans should expect more of the same for the time being.

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