A few weeks ago, there seemed to be a clear cut plan in San Jose, and rival teams across the National Hockey League were eating it up: Sharks general manager Doug Wilson was expected to make a a deal by giving up a high-value piece named Aaron Dell, who’s destined to leave the team via unrestricted free agency this summer.
The goaltender has been coveted on the market, with impressive statistics and a strong desire to become a starter in the NHL. And now, with a scarce market for goaltenders and several teams hoping to get stronger in net, it would be the perfect time to make this move ahead of the trade deadline. The Chicago Blackhawks now have to deal with the long term absence of star netminder Corey Crawford, who could miss the remainder of the season due to vertigo, and the New York Islanders have been struggling with the mediocre duo of Thomas Greiss and Jaroslav Halak. There is also the Pittsburgh Penguins who are waiting to see what Matt Murray will be back; the poor player lost his father on Tuesday.
With a 2.11 goals-against average and a .928 save percentage in 38 career appearances, every team that’s a little thin in the blue paint has been eyeing Dell.
But now, there is a major change of plans.
According to The Mercury News’ Paul Gackle, the Sharks might have changed their mind on Dell. He believes trading the 28-year-old backup “is no longer a viable option” as starter Martin Jones has struggled since returning from a minor injury on Dec. 2.
"Wilson would probably like to get a return on Aaron Dell before he leaves the team in unrestricted-free agency this summer. Unfortunately, Wilson can’t afford to part ways with his backup netminder before the trade deadline," Gackle writes.
"In a perfect world, the Sharks would package Dell in a trade before the deadline for a scoring winger or a fourth line center. Realistically, the Sharks are going to be in a tight playoff race for the remainder of the season and they can’t afford to spin their wheels at any point with inconsistency in between the pipes.
In short, they need Dell as an insurance policy in the event that Jones continues to be unreliable down the stretch."
A contract extension in the works?
Instead of looking to shop Dell out of San Jose, the Sharks might be looking to offer him a contract extension. Dell, however, might be tempted to test the free agency market this summer, which would mean the Sharks would lose him - for nothing!
However, if San Jose can convince to stay and offer him the chance to take over Jones' job, maybe another goalie will hit the market...
And Wilson could face a bidding war from rival clubs like Chicago, Pittsburgh and New York, and the plan might change all over again.