As the season draws closer to the end for the New York Rangers, it is time to look at some players with expiring contracts. Along the blue line, Tony DeAngelo has bounced back this season and proved to be the most consistent defenseman on this team.
We are reaching the conclusion of another disappointing season. Well, as per the standings, not necessarily via the excitement. Each game has showcased a young team competing against some of the league’s best.
Enter young defenseman Tony DeAngelo.
The 23-year-old New Jersey native has bounced back from a disastrous 2017-18 campaign. This season showed just how good he could be for years to come. Furthermore, the overall performance of this season has merited him a new contract with the New York Rangers.
DeAngelo came into this season with the most to prove on the Rangers blueline. in 2017-18, he was oftentimes lost and underperformed for most of the season. This season, however, he bounced back in the biggest of ways and found himself to be consistent.
In 56 games this season, DeAngelo has seen considerable minutes on the second defensive line and made the most of it. He has contributed four goals and assisted on 25 others for 29 points. His PDO numbers have considerably increased from last season, from 93.8 to 101.5.
In addition, he ranks second on the Rangers roster in goals forced per 60 minutes of action with 3.2. Only Chris Kreider ranks higher with 3.5 in even-strength play. As a defenseman, that is a solid thing to have on the backend.
It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, however, as DeAngelo has found himself on head coach David Quinn’s list of healthy scratches. This is mainly due to a problem with “maturity,” as described by Larry Brooks of the New York Post back in early February. Though only for two games, the crosshairs were on DeAngelo to improve.
After those two games, he turned up the heat and became a consistent figure on the blue line. In the 12 games he played in February after sitting, he put forth 11 assists with four of them coming on the power-play. The 23-year-old showed poise and an offensive agenda while competing in the defensive zone.
The playoffs are too far to reach and the season is ending on April 6 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. This Rangers season, the first under Quinn, has been exciting despite the overall record. The young kids showed that they could hold their own against the league’s best. The growing pains were there, but they have come and gone throughout the season.
The Rangers defensive core for next season is a mystery. DeAngelo, Neal Pionk, Fredrik Claesson, and John Gilmour are slated for free agency. Gilmour is the only of the four that is a Group 6 UFA, the rest are RFA. All four of these players have had their ups and downs this season as a whole, but not all are coming back. DeAngelo should remain, however, as he has the most to show and most to offer for Rangers. With all of the inconsistency on the blueline, his performance this season has shined above the rest.
He is a right-handed shot that has confidence in his offensive ability and can still be there to shut down the opposition. In his small sample of NHL playing time, he hasn’t had a full NHL season to show what he could do. If this season shows anything, is that he is getting better from his sophomore slump of a season last year. The scoring opportunities are more prominent and on the back end, he has been much better.
With DeAngelo, his roster spot should remain for next season. The Rangers are going to have a little over $17 million to spend in the offseason and some of that should be used to retain DeAngelo. With his relatively short amount of experience in the NHL, and this season being the best of his career thus far, the contract shouldn’t be extravagant. This upcoming free agency period is highlighted with huge names on defense like Erik Karlsson and Alexander Edler. There is also the thought of going after an elite forward in Artemi Panarin.
With only six games remaining, every game will impact next season’s roster. The younger talent will be fighting for their spot in New York or being sent down to Hartford. The Blueline, with four guys with expiring contracts, will be dog-eat-dog. And, if this is the last we see of Alexandar Georgiev, will it be enough to beat out Igor Shestyorkin next season.
After this season is over, the offseason will be a long one and filled with uncertainty. There are a plethora of players that have expiring contracts and decisions will be made. DeAngelo should be brought back after this season. His consistency has been unmatched and his offensive production cannot be ignored.