Despite making some strong moves, Doug Wilson is taking a bit of a gamble in relying on either Aaron Dell or Troy Grosenick to serve as San Jose’s backup netminder.
The San Jose Sharks headed into last season uncertain of what kind of goaltending they would received. After all, Martin Jones had never been through a full NHL slate, and Alex Stalock was coming off a rough campaign in 2014-15.
Well, general manager Doug Wilson was certainly right about Jones who proved to be quite a pickup for team teal. However, Stalock couldn’t handle the backup position in San Jose as Wilson was forced to go out and acquire James Reimer at the trade deadline in order to give Jones some rest down the stretch.
Now, when free agency began, many assumed Wilson would try and sign a veteran backup to play behind Jones for next season.
Instead, Wilson decided, at least at this point, to stay within the organization and go with either Aaron Dell or Troy Grosenick.
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At this point last year, it appeared Grosenick had the upper-hand to the top goaltending prospect distinction with the Sharks, but Dell simply outplayed him over the past two seasons.
Last year, Dell appeared in 40 games to Grosenick’s 28 with Dell posting a 2.42 GAA and a .922 save percentage while Grosenick managed a 3.16 GAA and a .894 save percentage.
Because of these numbers, it appears Dell will be given the first crack at the backup position after he re-signed with San Jose on a two-year deal.
It will be interesting to see how Dell pans out as the Sharks will likely count on their backup for 20 games as they once again play one of the most demanding schedules in the league to go along with 16 back-to-back contests.
Jones was relied upon for 65 games a season ago, and I’m sure he’s up for the challenge again next year. However, after team teal’s extended run to the Stanley Cup Final in which Jones started every game, they might want to ease off his workload just a bit.
That’s where Dell will have to prove himself as it’s not an easy thing to earn Peter DeBoer’s trust. It certainly is a big opportunity for Dell who has showed he’s capable at the AHL level, but nobody knows how that success will translate to the NHL game.
Wilson is rolling the dice on Dell, but it’s one he’s afforded as he has a stalwart in Jones he knows he can rely upon. Also, if things don’t go well with Dell, Wilson can always try and target someone at the trade deadline to help upgrade the position.
With San Jose only having a little more than $2M in cap space, it’s pretty clear they will be heading into training camp looking at an internal option. Whether that decision pans out remains to be seen, but it will be an intriguing storyline to follow in the season ahead.