Aaron Dell has been chosen to be the San Jose Sharks candidate for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy which is awarded to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to the sport of hockey. Each local media team selects a candidate for each team and it is then voted on by Professional Hockey Writers Association. We will learn who received the top three votes in the coming weeks.
Dell’s road to the NHL has been anything but normal starting in his junior career. Instead of playing Major Junior hockey in the WHL he opted to play in the AJHL (Alberta Junior Hockey League) which allows a player to maintain their NCAA eligibility. He went to the University of North Dakota playing three years, going undrafted by an NHL team. His second year in North Dakota was his best playing 40 games with a record of 30-7-2, a goals-against average of 1.79, and a save percentage of .924.
He would turn pro to join the Allen Americans of the then CHL and help them on the way to a Levins Cup championship, the last that would be won under the CHL banner. The following year the CHL merged with the ECHL and Dell would also move on and play with the Utah Grizzlies before getting a look on the AHL’s Abbotsford Heat. The following season Dell would rejoin the Allen Americans who had just become the ECHL affiliate of the San Jose Sharks.
This was the point where Dells career would start to take off. After playing 12 games in Allen he would be called up to the Worcester Sharks playing 26 games with a record of 15-8-2, a goals-against average of 2.06, and a save percentage of .927. He would never play in the ECHL again establishing himself as an AHL goaltender.
The following year he moved to San Jose as the AHL affiliate became the Barracuda, while his record was an unremarkable 17-16-6 he was able to drag the Barracuda into the playoffs with a .922 save percentage. The following year the he would win the backup job in San Jose.
Dell has made it to the NHL the hardest way possible, showing perseverance throughout his career and while I’m not sure he will be a finalist there is no better choice from this roster than Aaron Dell as far as I am concerned.