A couple of days following the re-signing of defenseman Tony DeAngelo for two more years at a reasonable average cap hit of $4.8 million through 2022, the Rangers paid tribute to the breakout American offensive star on their improved Twitter account.
A nice highlight package showed off the big season the 24-year old DeAngelo had in achieving personal bests with 15 goals and 53 points. That included posting his first career hat trick in a win over the Devils at MSG. A fun game to be at.
With the New Jersey native who once was a high first round pick for Tampa before getting dealt to the Coyotes, it took him some time to earn the trust of his third NHL team. Even in coach David Quinn’s first year, at one point DeAngelo found himself benched due to off ice related issues.
The talent has never been a question. He put up good scoring seasons in the OHL for both the Sarnia Sting and Soo Greyhounds.
After some struggles to establish himself with Arizona following a trade by the Lightning that resulted in current Rangers defenseman Libor Hajek being taken in the second round, he was part of a big deal to New York with the Coyotes 2017 first round pick (Lias Andersson) in exchange for center Derek Stepan and goalie Antti Raanta.
At the time, Rangers GM Jeff Gorton was starting to change the roster. By moving Stepan prior to his no-move clause went into effect, he was admitting that the team needed to change for the future. That really spelled the end of a good roster that had consistently made the postseason and gone to three Conference Finals and two second rounds. Raanta was given a opportunity to become a starter in Arizona. Injuries prevented it. He’s the backup behind Darcy Kuemper.
As for DeAngelo, he gradually became better over the past three seasons for the Rangers. After going 4-26-30 over 61 games in Quinn’s first season behind the bench during ’18-19, he broke out for 15 goals, 38 assists and 53 points this past season in 68 games. That allowed him to earn a bridge deal with the club that’ll pay him $9.6 million over the next two years.
DeAngelo turns 25 this week. A unique personality who keeps things loose in the locker room, he will now be looked to as more of a leader. That means continuing to produce and make adjustments to his defensive game that needs improvement. Especially if he wants to stay on Broadway past 2022.
With a influx of young talent in the farm system due to D prospects K’Andre Miller, Nils Lundkvist, Matthew Robertson, Tarmo Reunanen, Zac Jones and 2020 first round pick Braden Schneider, DeAngelo will have to prove he belongs.
Of course, more production over the next two years could price him out of the Big Apple. That’s salary cap life. Especially with no end in sight to the pandemic, which in turn could mean the cap doesn’t move off the number of $81.5 million.
For now, we can enjoy more DeAngelo highlights sometime in 2021 when hockey returns.