Aaron Dell is much more than the San Jose Sharks’ backup goaltender.
First off, the 27-year-old has come a long way since his days in the Alberta Junior Hockey League with the Calgary Canucks. After going undrafted, Dell played college hockey at the University of North Dakota for three years.
The extension of time ultimately worked in his favor.
Dell had hoped to start with the Colorado Eagles, but they passed on him.
Former NHL goaltender Ed Belfour gave Dell the chance to play with the Allen Americans (formerly of the Central Hockey League) for the 2012-2013 season and part of 2013-2014.
Dell had brief stints with the Utah Grizzlies, Norfolk Admirals, Manchester Monarchs and Abbotsford Heat. He returned to the Americans in a trade on Oct. 11, 2014.
Dell returned to the Americans for a second stint on Oct. 11, 2014.
“It’s great to have Aaron Dell back in Allen,” head coach and general manager Steve Martinson told radio broadcaster Tommy Daniels. “He was a big part of us winning a championship two seasons ago. He had outstanding year last year with Utah and good training camp showing with San Jose and Worcester this year. We feel very fortunate to get him back to join us in the ECHL.”
Dell was named the CHL’s Most Outstanding Goalie in 2012-2013 with the Americans. He was also named the Warrior Hockey Goalie of the Month for January 2014.
Dell spent most of his time in the CHL and ECHL before joining the Worcester Sharks for the remainder of the 2014-15 season.
“I think my path is a big part of why I’m here. I got to mature at the pro levels all the way up,” Dell told Curtis Pashelka. “It’s pretty humbling to be here now.”
San Jose re-signed Dell to a one-year contract on August 3, 2015.
Dell had an outstanding season with the Barracuda in 2015-16. He later won the backup goalie job to Martin Jones midway through training camp.
Dell made his NHL debut on Oct. 18, where the Sharks won 3-2 over the New York Islanders. He also made a relief appearance on Nov. 5, taking over Jones early in the second period. He allowed two goals on 18 shots that led to an unsatisfactory 5-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“I think the experience from the last (start) helped,” Dell told Pashelka. “I had the confidence in my abilities and in the guys in front of me. I think that carried over from the last game to this game.”
Dell was certainly tested by the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night.
The Hurricanes’ line of Jordan Staal, Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen kept the Sharks in their own zone. That line finished with a combined seven shots on goal in the first 20 minutes.
Although the Sharks lost 1-0, Dell played well, making 32 saves.
Clearly, Dell shows individual commitment to a group effort. He was an older prospect, but he has plenty of experience to back himself up.
The Sharks signed Dell because he has some NHL potential.