On Wednesday, the Blue Jackets signed veteran goaltender Aaron Dell to a professional tryout contract, meaning he'll be able to compete for a roster spot, either in the NHL or AHL, when training camp begins in about three weeks. If Dell makes the team, he could provide something the Blue Jackets currently lack: goaltending depth. My colleague Dan Dukart wrote about the veteran goaltending market last week and Dell, who has posted a .905SV% in 130 NHL games, was one of the names he mentioned, as well.
Aaron Dell is a 34-year-old goaltender who played four NHL games in 2022-23 and posted a .913SV%. In 130 games over seven seasons in the NHL, Dell has recorded a .905SV% along with a 50-50-13 record. He could be the third goaltender that the Blue Jackets are looking for. #CBJ https://t.co/fegf910BLO— Coby Maeir (@CobyMaeir) August 24, 2023
With Elvis Merzlikins entering training camp as the presumptive starter, that leaves Daniil Tarasov, the 24-year-old with just 21 NHL games under his belt, as the backup. However, his lack of experience at the North American professional level (28 AHL appearances) could warrant him receiving more consistent playing time in the minors. This is where the problem arises, though.
Tarasov is not exempt from waivers, so if the Blue Jackets were to send him to the AHL, any team in the NHL could claim him and his $1.05M annual cap hit through 2024-25. Whether or not he would clear waivers remains to be seen, but that's when having Dell on the roster would come in handy.
Dell has been placed on waivers four times in his career and has cleared in his last three trips, so the likelihood that someone would claim him, at this point, is low.
Aaron made a Dell of a save here! pic.twitter.com/itMkcp4S2P— NHL (@NHL) December 3, 2021
This would be helpful for the Blue Jackets because it would allow them to let Tarasov play a starter's role in the AHL, if that's what their preferred course of action is, without worrying about losing him on waivers. Tarasov could use the reps, if not for this year, to help him potentially be a No. 1 goalie in the NHL in the future. If he plays in the minors this year, the Jackets shouldn't worry, as Dell has proven to be a solid NHL backup.
Either way, the goaltending must improve drastically this season for the Blue Jackets. Dell could play a part in doing that in the present and in the future.