The New Jersey Devils have been searching for a backup goalie for about two seasons now. They thought they had filled that need with the signing of Corey Crawford in the off-season. However, when Crawford decided to retire right as training camp began, they were left in a bit of a bind. What was an area of strength became a weakness once again. Instead of having Mackenzie Blackwood and Crawford, the Devils were left with Blackwood and Scott Wedgewood. Not the ideal tandem to begin the season. Enter Aaron Dell.
Dell was put on waivers by the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday. There had been some talk the Devils were interested in Dell even before the season started. The Maple Leafs knew if Dell was put on waivers, the Devils were going to claim him. So the Maple Leafs kept him on the roster. However, once Toronto put Dell on waivers, the Devils put a claim in on him. General manager Tom Fitzgerald knows how to scout talent.
Aaron Dell is an upgrade over Scott Wedgewood. In 108 games with the San Jose Sharks, Dell has a 2.76 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage. So it is no wonder the Devils wanted to grab him, Dell was clearly the best option on the board who needed waivers. However, let us not forget about Scott Wedgewood. For his career, Wedgewood has a .903 save percentage. And Lindy Ruff did state he wanted someone with NHL experience to be the backup for Blackwood.
Wedgewood earned the backups role during training camp. And while he has not seen game action yet. He knows the organization so well. However, the Devils needed another option. Before they claimed Dell, the Devils got Eric Comrie from the Winnipeg Jets off of waivers.
Like Comrie, Dell will have to quarantine before joining the team and see any kind of game action. Dell will factor into the Devils’ goalie rotation. Especially with his body of work in the NHL. His numbers alone would make him the backup on any team. Blackwood cannot play every night for the Devils. They will just wear him out. Eventually, the backup is going to have to play.
And as we have seen with other teams around the league, they are utilizing tandems instead of having one guy carry the load. This way the starter is fresh for the playoffs. But give credit again to Tom Fitzgerald for being patient and getting the man who wanted all along. For the Devils, they hope the wait will be worth it.