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Sharks make depth trade to acquire Anthony Bitetto from Rangers

Trade Deadline day heats up, swapping depth players Nick Merkley and Anthony Bitetto.

Anthony Bitetto #22 of the New York Rangers skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on April 18, 2021 in Newark, New Jersey. Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

It’s no secret that the NHL Trade Deadline day is the craziest day of the year, and with the San Jose Sharks making money moves in the wake of another year of missed playoffs, it’s no surprise that depth moves are on the table.

Forward Nick Merkley has been traded to the New York Rangers in exchange for Anthony Bitetto, according to a combination of Kevin Weeks, Vince Mercogliano and Corey Masisak, in a move largely anticipated to be cap-related for the Rangers.

Nick Merkley has made his way around the NHL and AHL, but he’s always been a hard-working, reliable forward who can play in either the left-wing or center position. He’s been strong in the times that the Sharks have brought him up this season, but for whatever reason, he’s been leap-frogged by some of the other San Jose Barracuda players, like Noah Gregor and Scott Reedy.

He has the NHL experience necessary to potentially make a splash for another team, and hopefully, the Rangers will give him a chance to prove himself up top.

In his nine-game appearance for the Sharks this season, Merkley totaled 3 points (1 goal 2 assists), but added 36 points (11 goals, 25 assists) in 43 games with the Barracuda. In his last five AHL games, Merkley scored 4 points (1 goal, 3 assists).

Anthony Bitetto is seven years older than Merkley (31 to his 24 years). The Sharks have no shortage of defensemen, especially ones with AHL experience. Bitetto has played the entirety of this season with the Hartford Wolf Pack, the Rangers’ AHL affiliate. In his last five games, Bitetto had one assist, for one point. For the entirety of the season thus far, Bitetto has totaled 15 points (4 goals, 11 assists) in 39 games.

However, with Jacob Middleton on his way to Minnesota, the Sharks will need to call up a defender for the rest of the season. Bitetto probably will not be that defender, but he will be taking their AHL spot when the call-up comes.