The San Jose Sharks in a trade acquired goaltender Kappo Kahkonnen from the Minnesota Wild seen in photo file on Mon Mar 21, 2022 (file photo from Hockey Wilderness)
By Mary Walsh
SAN JOSE– On Monday, the trade deadline, the San Jose Sharks moved three players to playoff contenders. They traded defenseman Jake Middleton to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen and a 2022 fifth-round draft pick. Forward Nick Merkley went to the New York Rangers in exchange for defenseman Anthony Bitteto. The Sharks sent forward Andrew Cogliano to the Colorado Avalanche for a 2024 fifth round draft pick. San Jose also traded goaltender Alexei Melnichuk to the Tampa Bay Lightning for center Antoine Morand.
Jake Middleton has been with the Sharks organization since 2017, when he was signed as a free agent. He played in 59 games with the Sharks, scored nine points and had 82 penalty minutes.
Last season, Kaapo Kahkonen set a Wild rookie record, posting nine consecutive wins. He played 25 games with the Wild this season, posting a record of 12-8-3, a 2.87 GAA and a .910 save percentage. In his 54-game NHL career, his record is 31-17-4, a 2.89 GAA and a .907 save percentage. He will become a restricted free agent next season.
After the trade, Kahkonen talked about the trade and what he knows about the Sharks:
A good team. You know, the games I played against San Jose, I remember there’s a lot of good players there. I think it’s going to be, for sure we’re going to be a team that’s going to be able to compete in the near future and it’s going to be a great opportunity.
Kahkonen was asked whether he expected to be traded by the Wild. He said:
“I had no idea. I was actually on the ice, they pulled me out of there from the morning skate and just told me I had to leave the ice. At first I was kind of thinking that something happened to someone in my family or something but… so I was scared but then I heard I was getting traded.”
In a press release Monday, the Sharks said: “Kaapo is a quick, athletic goaltender who has shown the ability to win consistently at every level he has played,” San Jose assistant general manager Joe Will said. “He provides our club additional depth at the goaltending position this season and in the coming years.”
The Sharks acquired Nick Merkley last summer from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for defenseman Christian Jaros. Merkley played nine games with the Sharks and earned one goal and two assists.
Of Anthony Bitteto, a Sharks press release said:
“‘Anthony is a physical, veteran defenseman who gives us additional depth on our blueline,’ said Sharks Assistant General Manager Joe Will.
“This season, Bitetto has appeared in 39 games with the Hartford Wolf Pack of the American Hockey League, posting 15 points (four goals, 11 assists) and 26 penalty minutes in 39 games. He ranks second among team defensemen in goals and third in both assists and points.
“Bitetto has appeared in 197 NHL games with Nashville, Minnesota, Winnipeg, and the Rangers, posting 31 points (three goals, 28 assists) and 142 penalty minutes.”
Bitteto will be a free agent this summer.
Andrew Cogliano played 56 games with the Sharks this season, scored four goals and earned eleven assists. He will be a free agent this summer. In a press release, the Sharks said:
“Andrew was an important leader and a respected veteran in our dressing room this season,” said Sharks Assistant General Manager Joe Will. “Our players will be better pros for having had Andrew as a teammate.”
Antoine Morand has yet to play in the NHL. In their press release, the Sharks said:
In 138 AHL games with San Diego and Syracuse, Morand has posted 44 points (15 goals, 29 assists).
The five-foot-eleven, 190-pound native of Chateauguay, Quebec was originally selected by Anaheim in the second round (60th overall) of the 2017 NHL Draft.
Melnichuk appeared in three games with the Sharks last season. In their press release, the Sharks said:
Melnichuk appeared in 31 games with the Barracuda this season, posting a 10-14-2 record with a 3.92 goals-against average and an .867 save percentage.
Tomas Hertl is staying put with an eight-year contract extension, as the Sharks announced last week. The Sharks also did not move goaltender James Reimer, or forward Alexander Barabanov. Both players made the trade rumor mill before the deadline. Barabanov will be a free agent this summer and Reimer has one more season under contract with the Sharks.