Sharks' Goaltending Still a Question Mark With Aaron Dell's Struggles

[CSNBY] Sharks' goaltending still a question mark with Aaron Dell's struggles
Chelena Goldman

SAN JOSE -- Even as Martin Jones was named one of the NHL's "Three Stars of the Week", the state of the Sharks' goaltending remains a popular topic of discussion.

Don't get us wrong, Jones is very deserving of the recognition after he posted a combined .947 save percentage in back-to-back starts over the post-Thanksgiving weekend. However, the fact that Jones started both games of that back-to-back and backup Aaron Dell didn't play raised some questions about the state of San Jose's goaltending tandem -- and whether it's going to get a shakeup in the not-too-distant future.

Dell has had mixed results in eight games this season, going 3-4-0 with an .890 save percentage. He stood on his head against the Golden Knights in Vegas on Nov. 21 and led the Sharks in getting a 2-1 win, but then struggled on home ice on Nov. 27 and allowed five goals to the Winnipeg Jets.

Sharks coach Peter DeBoer made it clear at the start of the season that he wanted to give Dell more starts, particularly in back-to-back situations. But, DeBoer said that the backup netminder was going to have to earn those opportunities.

"I wanted to play him more last year, but he didn't allow me that opportunity to," DeBoer said back on Oct. 12. From the looks of things, that poor performance against the Jets was enough to cost Dell a start during the Sharks' recent back-to-back.

Of course, this kind of routine can't last for the rest of the season. Jones can't start every game the rest of the way -- he'd be burned out by the All-Star break. The Sharks need a reliable backup netminder, and one who can step in whenever possible without the fear of giving up five goals a night.

So, where does San Jose go from here?

Dell will most likely get another start or two in here at some point, but if he continues to struggle with consistency, the Sharks might need to look at other options. With Dell set to become an unrestricted free agent next summer, it isn't totally out of the question for the Sharks to consider making a move close to the trade deadline if they're still in playoff position.

Granted, the Sharks don't have many assets and still have to address issues regarding their forward depth, but it isn't totally unthinkable.

A trade would be more realistic than bringing 21-year-old Josef Korenar up from the AHL. The Czech netminder has registered a .889 save percentage in 13 games with the Barracuda, and that isn't exactly a number that inspires a recall to the big club.

[RELATED: Jones named one of NHL's "Three Stars of the Week"]

Of course, there's a chance that Dell will right the ship and give the Sharks the goalie depth they need as they try to build on a successful month of November. Heck, he already has a couple of stellar games under his belt this season. With San Jose going on a four-game East Coast road trip at the start of this month and playing in a back-to-back after the Christmas break, he could get another look in the not-too-distant future.

Until he gets another start, however, the conversations surrounding the Sharks' depth between the pipes are going to continue.

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