The uncertainty of where Airdrie’s Aaron Dell will be playing next season came to an end Feb. 28, when he signed his first contract extension with the San Jose Sharks.
“It’s great to get it settled out now, have some security for the next couple of years and not have it be up in the air trying to figure out what’s going on in July,” Dell said. “(San Jose has) a great group of guys. I love coming to the rink everyday…the organization has been great to me.”
Since making it to the NHL full-time as a backup netminder in the 2016-17 season, Dell has become a solid option between the pipes – backing up starter Martin Jones the past two seasons and making up one of the league’s best twosomes.
Dell has seen his team’s trust in him grow, appearing in more games and taking on more of a workload in the 2017-18 season.
As of March 5, Dell played in 26 games, starting 20 of them and posting an impressive 14-5-3 record.
The puckstopper has already surpassed career highs in games started, wins and shutouts with 16 games remaining in the regular season.
“I still feel like I learn and grow every game,” Dell said. “You have to, the game changes all the time – the players are getting better and you have to adapt with the game as it grows.”
Prior to the Feb. 26 NHL trade deadline, Dell’s name was floating around as a potential acquisition because he was to be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.
The goaltender said he wasn’t too focused on the rumours and instead looked at what he could control on the ice.
“You kind of just push it to the side, take it game by game and see what happens,” Dell said. “We made a couple of big moves this year during the deadline…. It’s an exciting time, it helps that I’m not going anywhere.”
Dell is staying put with the Sharks until at least July 2020.
The Sharks are in the midst of a tight playoff race in the NHL Western Conference, currently sitting second in the Pacific Division with a 35-22-9 record.
Although the team is in the playoff picture right now, with just six points separating seven teams vying for a post-season spot, Dell said it is important he performs in order to help the team return to the playoffs for the 13th time in 14 seasons.
“We have a decent amount of games left in a short amount of time, so I have to be ready to give the team a chance to win,” Dell said. “It’s been tight for the last while here, so every point is crucial.”