Rangers have a tough contract decision on Tony DeAngelo this summer

Tony DeAngelo continues to add to his incredible numbers after scoring his 15th goal of the season last night. The last Rangers blue-liner to tally that many was Brian Leetch who scored 21 in 2000-2001. It’s getting to a point where the Rangers need to really rethink if a bridge deal is the way to go with this offensive dynamo.

Bonafide Blue-Liner

The 24 year old righty shot has emerged as the Rangers best offensive defenseman since the aforementioned Brian Leetch. Every point he scores is a new career high and he’s at 53 points as I write this. If he plays all 14 remaining games and maintains this scoring pace, he will finish with 64-65 points. For some context, John Carlson of the Capitals scored 70 last season. That’s pretty good by any standard.

DeAngelo has also emerged as the PP QB the Rangers have lacked since Brian Leetch. Yes, it helps to have Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad on your man advantage unit, but he deserves as much credit for giving the Rangers a top PP. Entering last night’s game, NY was 5th overall with a success rate of 23.9% on the strength of 52 power play goals. For Tony, he has 3 of those goals and 19 of his 53 points when a man up. His value to the future success of this team is now undeniable.

DeAngelo (Getty Images)

RFA Status

Last off-season DeAngelo held out but was forced to take the Rangers offer because he had no leverage. That will not be the case this summer as he has arbitration rights and will likely ask for a new deal in the $6M to $7M range. Currently, Tony is 4th in scoring for all NHL defenseman. He is sandwiched in between Victor Hedman (7.8M), Quinn Hughes (916K), Alex Pietrangelo (6.5M), and Torey Krug (5.25M). Let’s eliminate Hedman who is established as a top d-man and Hughes who is on his ELC. Both Pietrangelo and Krug are in their late 20’s and set to become UFA’s this summer, but signed their current deals around the same age as DeAngelo will be. That’s where I come up with DeAngelo’s ask.

The Rangers could work out a deal with Tony for about 5.5M AAV over the next 5 years, buying 2 years of unrestricted free agency. This would be the best move cap wise, but he isn’t the only RFA/UFA they need to sign this summer. They could go the bridge deal route for 2 years at say $3.5 to 4M but that has many risks.

Risky Business

The future risk is DeAngelo continues to improve and becomes one of the NHL’s top scoring defenseman. His contract would also expire and make him a UFA which he then may want to test the market for max money. That could force the Rangers to trade him at the deadline for less than what he’s worth. Penny smart, dollar dumb. The immediate risk should he refuse the bridge deal, is losing the case in arbitration and having to pay maybe 6-7M versus the 5.5M I mentioned earlier on a 1 year deal. Gorton wouldn’t walk away from the award, but that extra 1-1.5M in cap space may cost him from re-signing Jesper Fast.

So the Rangers have reached a critical point with DeAngelo who has now become a lynchpin on the blue-line. They know that Nils Lundkvist and K’Andre Miller are part of their future, but no one has shown the NHL abilities DeAngelo has now proven. It’s time the Rangers make it priority one this off-season to sign him to a long term deal.

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