Tony DeAngelo is impressive and making his mark for these young Rangers
Some will say that the Rangers youth movement/rebuild, whichever term you prefer, under general manager Jeff Gorton truly got its start in the summer of 2017. That’s when the popular home-grown center Derek Stepan, along with goaltender Antti Raanta, were shipped off to Arizona in exchange for the 7th overall pick in the June 2017 draft (Lias Andersson) and the talented but troubled young defenseman Tony DeAngelo.
A Fresh Start
The New Jersey-born DeAngelo was the first round pick (19th overall) in the 2014 draft of the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bolts would then send the erratic, charismatic defensemen to the desert in exchange for a 2nd round pick in the 2016 draft with whom Tampa would select, ironically, current Ranger blue-liner Libor Hajek. DeAngelo’s time playing for the ‘Yotes was short lived as he was considered to be a “throw-in” in the Stepan/Andersson swap.
DeAngelo’s talent was never in question. DeAngelo’s desire was never an issue. DeAngelo’s passion for the game was obvious. The reason why the recently turned 24-year-old was traded twice in the embryonic stages of his NHL career was his lack of maturity and his inability to conform and assimilate.
Early on in his Blueshirt career, we saw the flashes of skill and talent that earned him a first round selection in 2014. However, his flaws were equally as ubiquitous. DeAngelo’s enigmatic play and on-ice temper tantrums led some in the Ranger front office to question whether or not he was deserving of any sort of long term commitment. Towards the end of last season’s campaign, long after the trade deadline’s roster purging, DeAngelo’s role, ice time and responsibility increased. DeAngelo took his game to a new level and earned himself a one-year deal to continue his run on Broadway
Making a mark
The Rangers’ reluctance to offer DeAngelo even the two year bridge deal seems to have sparked the native of Sewell, NJ. DeAngelo has been one of the bright spots on this struggling Ranger team, playing the best hockey of his NHL career. After 10 games, he has 4 goals and 8 points. “Tony D” as he is affectionately known, is forcing the Ranger brain trust to make several hard decisions regarding, what is shaping up to be, an exremely crowded blue line.
Currently, the Ranger right handed defenseman are Jacob Trouba, Adam Fox and DeAngelo. With the slick-skating Swede, 2018 first round draft pick Nils Lundkvist soon to hang out his shingle in the Big Apple, one has to ask the very difficult question…who will be the odd man out? Obviously, Trouba and his 56 million dollar contract are going nowhere. The much heralded rookie Adam Fox is sure to be a Ranger for quite some time as well. That leaves DeAngelo and Lundkvist.
You may be thinking that one could be switched to their off-side and learn how to play left defense. That is a potential solution. However, currently Brady Skjei, the aforementioned Hajek and Ryan Lindgren are going to be hard to beat out for that valueable sixth defenseman slot. With 2018 first round pick K’Andre Miller and Ygor Rykov also in the prospect pipeline, well the Ranger defense corp is starting to resemble Penn Station during the morning rush hour.
Moving forward, what is the best course of action regarding the emerging Tony DeAngelo? Sign him to a long term deal? Use him in a package to obtain a quality, legitimate number two center-man? Sign him to another short term deal and hope he doesn’t become disgruntled? People much smarter than me will have to make that decision.