When the Rangers traded for Jacob Trouba and then signed him to a seven year, $8 million contract, he was anointed the 1RD spot. There were valid questions about Trouba’s ability to hold down that role, but the general consensus was that he would take time to get used to the Rangers, and then eventually hold down that spot and a spot on the powerplay, even with Adam Fox on board.
Tony DeAngelo, who was admittedly overlooked by many as a potential leading scorer on the blue line, has completely taken over the conversation. DeAngelo has looked great this season, and he’s found another gear to bring his game to another level. He and Fox are the clear 1-2 on the right side of the blue line, with Trouba, despite playing on the top pair, has moved into the afterthought category of blue liners.
With DeAngelo’s contract status up in the air, and likely to get at least $5 million thanks to the Darnell Nurse contract, the Rangers now have an interesting decision to make. Is Tony DeAngelo going to get a look as a potential 1RD, with Jacob Trouba getting moved before his NMC kicks in this summer?
This isn’t necessarily a new concept being discussed. I believe Adam Herman was the first to bring this up as early as December. This is about managing a team in a cap era, and spending big on depth is what gets teams into trouble. If spending $8 million on your 1RD, spending $5 million on your 3RD isn’t fiscally responsible, even if it is your leading point scorer. Factor in an Adam Fox contract extension in two years, and you have the same expensive blue line that saddled the Rangers in the AV years.
Of course there is an easy solution – move DeAngelo to the left side. As the club’s top offensive defenseman, staying on the left gives him a better angle and more room to work with. But it appears the Rangers aren’t willing to make that move, thus the decision they have in front of them. Assuming Fox is getting kept, the Rangers may need to make a choice between Trouba and DeAngelo.