New York Rangers: What the Blueshirts Need from Anthony DeAngelo This Season 2
TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 15: Anthony DeAngelo #77 of the Arizona Coyotes skates with the puck against the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on December 15, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Coyotes defeated the Maple Leafs 3-2 in an overtime shoot-out. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) *** Local Captions *** Anthony DeAngelo

The New York Rangers acquired Anthony DeAngelo back in June, and the team will need a lot from him this year.

The New York Rangers made a series of moves this offseason to turn the team back into a Stanley Cup contender, and one of them included a trade that sent Antti Raanta and Derek Stepan to the Arizona Coyotes. In return, the Rangers acquired the seventh overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, which was used on the versatile Swedish forward Lias Andersson, and defenseman Anthony DeAngelo.

It was clear that when this move was made, both the player that would be taken with the pick and DeAngelo would be key parts of the team’s current and long-term plans. While Andersson has lived up to the hype thus far — he’s put up four points in four games in the recent World Junior Summer Showcase, showing the potential of a top-line centerman, and also positioning himself to make a run to crack the Rangers’ Opening Night Roster — there are still quite a few questions about DeAngelo.

It is still rather unknown whether he can deliver in his first season on Broadway and whether he can become a future stalwart for the Rangers on the blueline. Either way, the Rangers will need him to improve his overall game.

For one, the Rangers need DeAngelo to continue to improve his already impressive offensive abilities. DeAngelo, a first-round pick by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2014 draft, has had high expectations surround him for quite some time. A puck-moving, offensive-minded defenseman, DeAngelo put up 241 points in 236 career games in the Ontario Hockey League and was named the OHL Defenseman of the Year in the 2014-15 season.

DeAngelo also showed what he is capable outside of junior hockey, putting up 16 points in 25 games in the American Hockey League and 14 points in 39 games with the Coyotes last season. According to the Hockey News, the 21-year old defenseman “skates very smoothly and can be a valuable point man and QB on the power play,” and his production in his career has shown that to this point. DeAngelo’s game brings a lot of skill, shot generation and sorely needed point-producing ability on the backend for the Rangers, something they have not consistently had in some time.

He can immediately give the team another blueline option on the power play, along with Ryan McDonagh, Brady Skjei and new acquisition Kevin Shattenkirk. The unit was the second-worst power play in the league during the 2017 NHL Playoffs. His ability to move the puck quickly up the ice should improve that unit. That said, if DeAngelo can consistently do this with the Rangers — and at the same time protect the puck and show that he can limit turnovers — he will become a trustworthy defenseman with the team.

However, even though DeAngelo’s offensive game is quite good, his defensive ability is still very much a work in progress.

He still needs quite a bit of refinement in regards to staying in position, as he loves to join the rush, but can tend to do so recklessly at times. In addition, he will need to do a lot of work on shutting down passes by opposing players in the defensive zone, as well as his stick-handling. DeAngelo has been poor in his brief NHL career thus far in regards to shot suppression and he will need to improve in this area in order to stick in the NHL, as well as to gain the trust of the Rangers’ coaching staff and to become a strong all-around defenseman.

DeAngelo also has to mature as an individual, not just as a hockey player. Disciplinary issues have popped up throughout his short career. In the 2013-14 season, DeAngelo was suspended twice by the OHL. He was given a one game suspension for abusing an official and an eight game suspension for racially charged comments that he made to a teammate. He was also suspended twice more, once in 2015 and another time earlier this year in January, for abusing an official.

DeAngelo has always been known for having a fiery personality but that didn’t scare Tampa Bay away from him in the draft. Lightning head scout Al Murray told Ryan Kennedy of the Hockey News that they loved him for his competitiveness, but he needed to “show better self-control.” This is his third organization since he was drafted in 2014, and NHL teams won’t have much patience if he continues to act in the manner that he has thus far. While he has shown the potential to be

The Rangers are his third organization since he was drafted in 2014, and NHL teams won’t have much patience if he continues to act in the manner that he has thus far. While he has shown the potential to be an elite puck-moving defenseman, he will need to mature and show some restraint or he’s not going to get the chance to reach his potential.

DeAngelo is by no means a lock to make this team out of training camp, but the Rangers will give him every opportunity to do so.

Five spots are essentially locked up on the blueline for the Rangers, as McDonagh, Skjei, Shattenkirk, Brendan Smith and Marc Staal will all make the team. Nick Holden could be the team’s sixth defenseman, but with one year left on a team-friendly deal, he could also be moved to a cap-strapped team looking for a defenseman. If he is moved, that leaves DeAngelo to compete with Steven Kampfer and recent acquisitions Alexei Bereglazov and Neal Pionk to compete for two spots, one being a starting spot.

Considering DeAngelo’s potential — and the fact that he is a right-handed defenseman, something the Rangers do not have a large supply of — he could very well make the roster and be in Alain Vigneault’s lineup on Opening Night.

If he isn’t on the Opening Night roster, he has to produce in Hartford and show that he has improved and has matured. Otherwise, he will fall behind on the Rangers’ depth chart and could find himself out of the team’s long-term plans.

To put it simply: 2017 is a make-or-break year for DeAngelo.