The 2019-2020 season was always going to be a make-or-break season for Tony DeAngelo. The Rangers made that clear when he was given a one-year bridge deal as a “show me” contract. Now with 11 points in 13 games, DeAngelo is one of the few consistent bright spots on a Rangers blue line that is, for lack of a better phrase, bad.
DeAngelo’s 5-6-11 line puts him third on the team in scoring and four points ahead of Jacob Trouba (1-6-7) for the defense scoring lead. DeAngelo’s talent is what made him a high draft pick, but it was his attitude issues that made the Rangers his third team in as many years. With those issues seemingly behind him, DeAngelo has forced himself onto the top powerplay unit with his superb play.
Last season, DeAngelo was the best offensive transition defenseman in the game:
Tony Deangelo is THE BEST defenceman in the NHL in transition offense. He is just 23 and seems to have figured things out a bit this year. It will be really interesting to see if he continues to improve as the non-innate aspects of his game fill in. https://t.co/Bv3mg5cTJF
— CJ Turtoro (@CJTDevil) March 7, 2019
This season’s numbers aren’t available yet, but we haven’t seen DeAngelo slow down in this aspect of his game. He’s still one of the only defensemen that prefers to carry/pass the puck out of the zone instead of those chip clears that wind up as turnovers.
It is worth noting that DeAngelo is not a perfect defenseman. For all his offensive prowess, he’s not overly good at in-zone defending.
Let’s play a game.
Find the problem. pic.twitter.com/euuRkTii4I
— David Shapiro (@BlueSeatBlogs) November 5, 2019
This is one particular example from Monday’s game (sorry for the blue tint – cell phone pictures of my TV don’t work overly well). DeAngelo is behind the net when the puck is on the other side, he should be in front. This led to a goal.
Plays like that show up in his defensive stats. So far this season, his defensive metrics are pretty rough. Granted all of the Rangers have bad defensive metrics, but DeAngelo has had this particular concern throughout most of his young career. That said, the good far outweighs the bad here, and DeAngelo’s ability to produce consistent offense is worth the defensive issues that come with it.
The defensive issues aren’t unique to DeAngelo, especially given this train wreck of a defensive team as a whole and system they play. I’m getting to a point where the defensive numbers are just noise to me because the system is so bad and so many players succeed away from the Rangers and get worse when coming to the Rangers. But for DeAngelo, this is a strong sign of good, consistent offensive numbers multiple years in a row. In a rebuild, this is what you want to see.