There’s no discussion about it: Martin Jones is the unquestioned man in the San Jose Sharks’ net. After nights like Friday, it’s reasonable to wonder if Aaron Dell might be a diamond in the rough, though.
Much has been made of Dell cracking the NHL at the advanced age of 27, but he’s quietly been excelling when given opportunities … which are sometimes pretty rare.
Dell only needed to make 21 saves to grab his first career shutout in a 2-0 win against the Philadelphia Flyers last night, yet it’s interesting to note that he’s been putting up nice numbers in small sample sizes for a while now.
2013-14: 19-7-3, .920 save percentage in 29 ECHL games
12-0, .922 save percentage in six AHL games
2014-15: 8-1-2, .902 save percentage in 12 ECHL games
15-8-2, .927 save percentage in 26 AHL games
2015-16: 17-16-6, .922 save percentage in 40 AHL games
2016-17: 4-1-0, .936 save percentage, one shutout in six games with Sharks
If nothing else, Dell is accustomed to paying his dues. Jones has been pretty impressive in his own right (19-11-1 with a .920 save percentage over a much larger sample size of 31 games this season), yet Dell could provide valuable insurance if injuries strike or Jones experiences a slump.
With four straight wins and victories in eight of their last nine games, San Jose might just build up enough of a buffer in the Pacific to get an idea of what they have in Dell by giving him an extra look or two down the stretch.