The New York Rangers acquired Tony DeAngelo along with a draft pick that was used to select Lias Andersson three years ago. In exchange, they traded Derek Stepan and Antti Raanta to the Arizona Coyotes.
At the time, Andersson was considered the more valuable of the assets the Rangers acquired in the trade, while DeAngelo was considered a project. In the three seasons since the trade, the blueliner has developed into one of the team’s best players. His current contract will end after the postseason and the Rangers need to make sure he doesn’t end up on another team.
DeAngelo Has Overcome Adversity
DeAngelo was labeled a “bad seed” early on his career. During the 2013-14 season, while playing in the OHL, he was suspended eight games for using a slur against one of his teammates. He has also been suspended twice for abuse of officials.
In addition to concerns about his attitude, there were concerns about his play. He was labeled an “offensive defenseman” but considered by many analysts to be a defensive liability. During his first season with the Rangers in 2017-18, DeAngelo was just 22 years old and struggled defensively. He got caught pinching in the offensive zone and struggled with his defensive coverage in front of the net. He finished 8 eight assists in 32 games and he suffered a season-ending ankle sprain after falling awkwardly into the boards.
DeAngelo looked like a completely different player in 2018-19. His defensive play improved significantly. He was more physical, made smarter decisions and did a better job with his defensive coverage. His improved defensive play has continued this season. While he is best known for his playmaking ability and offensive skill, he is certainly not a defensive liability.
In addition to cleaning up his defensive play, DeAngelo has cleaned up his image. While he can’t undo his past poor decisions, he has stayed out of the headlines for off-the-ice issues and has not been suspended or in trouble since being traded to the Rangers. His teammates in New York have only had positive things to say about him. He has also repeatedly shown that he is willing to drop the gloves to stick up for his teammates and himself.
DeAngelo Has Improved Offensively in Each Season With the Rangers
DeAngelo has stepped up offensively after a disappointing 2017-18 season, when he finished with just 8 points in 32 games. During the 2018-19 season he developed into a weapon on the point for New York’s power play. He showed off great vision and made clean passes out of the Rangers’ defensive zone.
While it was a disappointing season for the rebuilding Rangers, DeAngelo was a bright spot. He finished with 4 goals and 26 assists, including 10 assists on the power play. He led the team in points by a defenseman.
DeAngelo built off of his success last season and has been even better this season. He has continued to show off his playmaking ability with spectacular stretch passes and has been aggressive but intelligent in the offensive zone. He uses his quickness to make shifty moves and prevent opposing players from blocking his passes and shots.
DeAngelo has become very adept at getting shots on goal with traffic in front of the net. This has been especially noticeable on the power play. While his shot isn’t the most powerful, it is extremely accurate and has made him a weapon.
DeAngelo has 15 goals and 38 assists in 68 games this season. That ties him for fourth among NHL defensemen in both points and goals. He has 3 goals and 16 assists on the power play. In his best performance of the season, he put on a show against the rival New Jersey Devils, scoring a hat trick and adding two assists. He has also scored two overtime goals this season.
DeAngelo’s Contract Situation
When the season ends, DeAngelo will become a restricted free agent. Ideally the Rangers would be able to lock him up with a long-term extension, but that may not be possible. New York does not have much cap space and because of the coronavirus pandemic, the salary cap will not increase.
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The Rangers will likely look to give DeAngelo a short-term deal, in order to stay under the salary cap. Ryan Strome will also be a restricted free agent after this season. He has also developed into a key player, centering Artemi Panarin’s line, so New York will need to pay Strome as well.
The good news for the Rangers is they will have multiple contracts coming to an end after the 2020-21 season. Henrik Lundqvist, Marc Staal and Brendan Smith will all have one season remaining on their contracts after this season. That will be $18.55 million off the books. Some of that money needs to be used to sign DeAngelo to a long-term deal.
DeAngelo has proven he is one of the Rangers’ most important players and they need to find a way to keep him.