The New York Rangers are shaping up to become one of the league’s most deadly offensive teams. With talented players being added to the roster seemingly every year, the Rangers offense appears to be never-ending. In fact, one of The Rangers most offensive players just happens to be a defenseman! The person I am referencing is Tony DeAngelo of course. However, many questions have been raised regarding DeAngelo’s role on the team. Trade status, and capability, are some of the topics brought up about Tony DeAngelo, and whether or not he fits in. Besides the questions and concerns regarding his play, what type of player is DeAngelo? Has he really been of value to the Rangers?
DeAngelo is a guy who is a massive contributor on the score sheet for The Rangers. His offensive mindset has won many games for the Rangers, including a few critical game-winning goals in overtime last season. Although his small frame may not be much of a fear factor on defense, his big slapshots and upbeat style of play allows for almost a fourth forward with DeAngelo. Speaking of fourth, that’s the exact place DeAngelo finished in for most points as a defenseman last season. Tallying 15 goals, 38 assists, and 53 points, DeAngelo is certainly making a name for himself. If he does in fact stay on track for another monster season, DeAngelo (25), could blossom into one of the league’s best defensemen.
Why Were His Stats So Good Last Season?
There are multiple reasons why DeAngelo had such an impactful role on the Rangers in only his third season. For starters, DeAngelo was usually paired up with Marc Staal in the majority of his games played. This allowed for DeAngelo’s offensive opportunities because of the fact that Staal was by no means a goal-scoring threat. Thus allowing for DeAngelo to rush up the ice and generate scoring chances while Staal focused on their own defensive zone. For this reason, they were a great pairing because of how different they both played the game. This pairing allowed for the Rangers to have a great depth balance with the two polar opposite players. Another reason DeAngelo was so capable of scoring was because of his role.
DeAngelo was typically the starting defenseman on The Rangers first powerplay line. The ability to play with Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad, and Chris Kreider certainly benefitted his stats. Considering that for a portion of last season The Rangers were one of the top teams on the powerplay, it is no mystery why DeAngelo thrives on this line. During a powerplay, his fluid presence on the ice shows that he is mindful of his positioning. His lethal shot from the blueline and quick wrist shot from the slot gives you an idea of how DeAngelo can create scoring chances from anywhere on the ice.
Overall, I think DeAngelo will improve even more this upcoming season. It’s going to be interesting to see who he will be paired up with, and how it will affect him, but I am confident that his offensive mindset and skills are all there to have himself another big year. He has a hard slapshot, great vision on the ice, and can lead the rush up the ice with confidence. This is the type of player young kids who are being drafted in the next few years should aspire to be. DeAngelo is an ideal representation of a modern defenseman and is only beginning his trend towards the best D-man in the league.
If there’s one place where DeAngelo receives a lot of criticism, it’s in his own end. While many focus on this downside in his game, the emphasis should really be on the fact that DeAngelo could be a deadly two-way player. As I discussed before, his offensive is great, now it’s time for him to lock in his defense. Considering the fact that The Rangers defense was a big reason why they couldn’t make the jump to the next level last season, it is imperative that they figure it out this season if they want to continue progressing. However, there is most definitely hope for Tony D. With great defensive-minded players on the roster like Jacob Trouba and Adam Fox, I am hoping DeAngelo takes the time to learn from them, and how they play the game.
Where He Is Going Wrong
I can’t tell you one specific thing that, if fixed, will turn DeAngelo into a superstar in his own zone. However, I do notice when watching him play that his gap control and positioning could improve. Often times I see him drift back into his own end without challenging an incoming forward. As a result, too much space is created between the defender and the forward, which allows for the offensive to set up and make plays. The good news for Tony D is that Adam Fox is one of the best on the team in terms of closing the gap. Not to mention, that in my opinion, Fox has one of the best defensive sticks in the game. Are you seeing the comparison here?
Those who maintain tight gap control in their defensive zone tend to be the best at creating turnovers, and poke-checking incoming forwards.
On the other hand, an area where DeAngelo thrives may not be at his own blue line, but in the dirty areas of the ice. DeAngelo’s gritty style of play aids him when going head to head in a corner to battle for puck possession. Even though he may not be physically gigantic, his explosiveness and power allow him to pin players to the boards and strip the puck from them.
My Thoughts On Tony DeAngelo
In my opinion, Tony DeAngelo is a gift to The Rangers team. I expect him to pick up where he left off on offense, but hopefully, be mindful of his play on defense. He has almost every aspect of the game, now he must find that final piece to the puzzle. If Tony DeAngelo can prioritize making sure he owns every inch of ice in his defensive zone, the game will begin to come easy for him. I don’t think Rangers fans should be concerned about him because of the progressions he made through the past three seasons. If in fact he does improve in gap control and positioning in the defensive zone, the sky is the limit for DeAngelo’s talent.