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Did Tony DeAngelo price himself out of Rangers' plans?

August 23, 2020, 2:23 PM ET [524 Comments]
Jan Levine
New York Rangers Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
I listed my top-25 off-season questions last week. Throughout the summer and early-fall, I will cover each of those questions, hoping to finish before the draft or free agent, Rather than place a link to each one in the first paragraph, I will post the link following the completion of each blog in the table below that contains all 25 questions. 

In this blog, I tackle question #3: "Did Tony DeAngelo price himself out of the team's plans with his regular season or did his price tab dip enough due to his poor series versus Carolina? (update: does his hamstring injury during the play-in round need to be taken into consideration)." Part of this question was tackled way back during the pandemic when I wrote an analysis of each player, bridging off Larry Brooks' columns of the same. For DeAngelo, the blog was titled   My thoughts on Tony DeAngelo, plus Henrik Lundqvist's donation.

Here is a portion of what Brooks wrote in his column:
When you have a 24-year-old defenseman, and a righty, no less, who records the fourth-most goals and points in the NHL at his position and who is coming up on restricted free agency, it’s a no-brainer to lock him up for at least five years, isn’t it?

This is likely the most daunting question Rangers management will confront this offseason in evaluating whether it can afford to sign No. 77 for what likely would be at least $6 million per year on a long-term deal.

There are options, of course. The parties could negotiate a short-term bridge deal for two years for a number that probably would come in around $5 million per. Failing that, management could allow DeAngelo to become the first Ranger since Nikolay Zherdev in 2009 to go to arbitration, but that’s not an alternative favored by anyone.

Or, of course, the Blueshirts could trade DeAngelo from a position of strength on the right side of the blue line in order to get a legit top-nine forward with top-six upside who would fill a position of weakness.

DeAngelo is a special offensive talent, the way he skates, the way he sees the ice, the way he’s a breakdown player carrying the puck on the rush, the way he distributes it in the offensive zone and the way he joins the rush and goes to the net, the way he mans the point on what had become a devastating power play when the season was put on hold.

The defensive side of it, well, not quite so much. DeAngelo has his moments, he plays with bite, he doesn’t back down, he supports his teammates and, of course, he can wheel the puck out of danger in an instant, but there are more than a few too many times when he seems to pick his spots and choose his battles. Clearly, the Rangers need more than a bit more diligence from him in front of the net and in the D-zone corners. 

Clearly, if the Rangers are going to sign DeAngelo for the long term, they have to be convinced this controversy-free season will be the norm and not the exception. There were no benchings or healthy scratches resulting from immature behavior, as there had been on multiple occasions in 2018-19. In fact, it was just as DeAngelo promised the day he reported to camp after settling on his one-year contract.

Management’s decision will be about DeAngelo, but not only about DeAngelo. Because there is going to be a cap crunch. Can the Rangers afford $5 million to $6 million per over the long haul to have DeAngelo on the third pair?

That probably won’t work for anyone. But what if the Rangers move DeAngelo to his off-side on the left, where he has played capably at different stages of his career? I know. Libor Hajek is a lefty and so is Yegor Rykov. K’Andre Miller plays the left side and so do Tarmo Reunanen, Zac Jones and Matthew Robertson. But they are prospects. DeAngelo is an established NHL player. Yes, he is. He established that this year. Moving him to that side would fill a need.

Imagine how poetic it would be to find DeAngelo on the left of anything.

This is what i wrote at the time:
DeAngelo entered the season on a one-year deal, partially due to the lack of cap space for New York. At the time, most of us advocated a two-year deal, thereby limiting the downside risk if ADA exploded. GM Jeff Gorton was either unable or unwilling to deal Vlad Namestnikov prior to the season, and when that deal occurred, the timing was too late to lock up DeAngelo for more than this year. ADA had no arb rights and waited for accepting his contract at the minimum rate.

ADA more than earned that salary and his play has moved his rate of pay to at least the $4 million or $5 million range. To me, that amount seems more likely on a long term deal. I was thinking between $3-$4 million on a bridge deal, but could see a higher base amount and up to $6 million on a long-term deal. If the possible compliance buyout we discussed last week actually is a reality, the Rangers could use the savings on either buying out Henrik Lundqvist, Marc Staal or Brendan Smith on DeAngelo. In addition, and maybe more important, the future cap and use of escrow will determine how much space is truly available, impacting what type of deal ADA could be offered, similar to last year. 

Moving DeAngelo to the left side, where he played in the past, looks to be the wisest path forward. This shift would fix a hole for New York and open a spot for the depth that exists within the organization. If the org knew ADA would pan out as he had, maybe Jacob Trouba is now acquired in general or signed long-term, but that's Monday Morning QB and revisionist history, and unless they move him before the July 1 NMC kicks in, a non-entity for this discussion. 

I would most certainly give ADA a bridge deal. Seeing what happened last year, that length of contract might be what he wants to enable him to cash in quicker. The only way around that would be if New York gave ADA around $7 mil a year long term, which to me is an overpayment. But if he continues to develop, especially defensively, that may not necessarily be the case.

Love ADA's comment to Brooks' column, as the last line was a nod to DeAngelo's political leanings, which have been a bone of contention in the past. 


Per Evolving Wild, see Strome column for more info on their prognostications, they project DeAngelo for a five-year deal with a $5,705,000 AAV with a 37% likelihood of that length of a deal. They project contracts from 1-7 years, with a one-year deal, which has a 4% likelihood, is at $3,744,000, while a two-year bridge deal at $4,267,000 is projected with an 11% likelihood, the same percentage as an eight-year deal. Three- ($5.315 mil AAV) and four-year ($5,009,500 AAV) deals have an 8% likelihood while a six-year deal at $5,812,000 AAV is projected with a 13% probability, My view is that a two-year deal is the most probable with a three-year deal possible. Based on a variety of factors, including.a flat cap the next two years and $1 mil increase in year 3, resulting in a cap crunch for new York, especially next season, I am unsure if New York will go the long-term route. But a five-year deal at that projected price might be viewed as palatable or even a six-year one at the $6,017 mil AAV.

On the ice, we saw the offensive skills we had been waiting on since he arrived in New York. He drove the power play and transition, evidencing his strong puck-moving skills. DeAngelo finished with 19 power-play points, taking over as the first unit point man, among his 53 points on the season, In addition, he plays with an edge, dishing out hits, though at times there, he goes over the edge, seen in his constant chirping on the ice. Defensively though, ADA needs work, especially in his own zone. Though, part of that might have his pairing with Marc Staal. The positive defensively is that DeAngelo is one of the best at defending zone entries, playing into his strengths as a transition defenseman. But coverage in the defensive zone overall is still a work-in-progress.

With ADA though, on-ice is not the only component. ADA's political beliefs and leanings are well known. We criticize athletes when they give bland answers, asking for more. Then, when they give more, we take them to task as well for what they believe. DeAngelo obviously has the right to believe what he wants, however, when the expression of his beliefs become or are viewed as becoming a problem, that's what it impacts the team and management.

DeAngelo has had a checkered past. That lack of maturity, using that term loosely here, since more is likely at play, contributed to his departure from Tampa Bay and Arizona. Initially, coach David Quinn scratched ADA at times due to his uneven play and his maturity, the latter of which Quinn made a point to note improved this past season, a contributing factor in his improved play.

But that maturity, which to me also means knowing when to bite your tongue and walk away, continues to be a challenge. DeAngelo got into a beef with a fan this past week, all but challenging him to a fight, before stepping away. The Watch Your Tone podcast, which by the way is a good listen, twitter account is run by DeAngelo's brother, Dan, who has also been known to express his beliefs through that account, not aiding Tony' s case. In addition, his remark regarding a column on analytics and the first overall pick, while on the face of it, not a material comment, gets lumped into all the comments he and the WYT site have made, furthering the view that the off-ice "issues" will have an impact on his future with the Rangers and possibly the league itself, if left unchecked. The tweet was taken down and an apology issued, but ramifications remain.

DeAngelo can be based on his views, polarizing, which might have been more palatable to many five years. Whether you believe in "cancel culture" or “left” leaning politics, his support of Trump and promotion of right wing agenda makes him somewhat toxic. Especially since little remorse or forethought appears to be the case, at least initially. Talent wise, DeAngelo deserved a long-term deal, especially after playing at just $925K last year. But are you willing to bet on-ice, he irons out his defensive issues, but more, his off-ice demeanor won't result in a black eye - figuratively not literally - for the team, league and himself at one point? The answer to that question might be more of a factor than the salary cap.

Add all this together and I think a two-year deal is what happens. I believe at the end of that type of deal, ADA would still be an RFA with arb rights, but confirming this is the case. Signing him to this length of a deal would allow New York to see if the maturity and growth we saw this season continues and/or if the off-ice issues remain. In addition, if the defensive challenges were due to his playing with Staal and if he possibly could move to the left side on the first pairing, depending on what happens in free agency or trade front. While a two-year deal could result in the Rangers paying more on the back end, it also gives them protection to an extent if everything blows up. I hope that ADA continues to grow and mature, both on- and off-the-ice, but to me, a short-term deal may make the most sense.

What's your view?

Top-25 off-season questions:

1) Should-Ryan-Strome-be-brought-back-and-if-so-what-kind-of-deal -(also, will getting Lafreniere result in New York moving a winger to get a 2c, making Strome expendable)
2) Has Jesper Fast played his last game as a Blueshirt?
3) Did Tony DeAngelo price himself out of the team's plans with his regular season or did his price tab dip enough due to his poor series versus Carolina? (update: does his hamstring injury during the play-in round need to be taken into consideration)
4) Is David Quinn the right coach for the team moving forward? How concerning is his inability to adjust in-game and between games? If no, who might be under consideration? (update: does he need to make the playoffs and/or win a round, due to winning the lottery and sweep at the hands of Carolina, to keep his job?)
5) Should we prepare the jersey raising for Henrik Lundqvist now? (update: did anything JD said convince you that he might be back next season?)

6) Can Filip Chytil be the second line center if Strome is not brought back? (update: is his future at center or wing?)
7) With Nils Lundkvist and K'Andre Miller in the pipeline, does New York have enough D to get the next level?
8) Will Vitali Kravtsov be in the Opening Night lineup?9) Is Pavel Buchnevich now "expendable" due to Lafreniere coming on board or will the Rangers regret dealing him based on his untapped potential? (new)
10) Do the Rangers need to name a captain? If so, should that be Mika Zibanejad or Chris Kreider? Regardless of your view, did Kreider's comments in the Game 3 press conference sway your view?

11) Which is the true Brett Howden, the one that did little from October to March or the one we saw against Carolina?
12) Do you view the three-game sweep as a good learning experience, as mentioned by several including Davidson, for the neophytes on the team or is it too early to make that call?
13) Were you satisfied with the growth seen from Kappo Kakko and what's your realistic view as to what we should expect in years 2 and 3?
14) If Lundqvist is not back, do you want Alexandar Georgiev as Igor Shesterkin's 2020-21 backup or are you dealing him for additional assets? If bringing him back next year, are you signing him for more than one season?
15) Are you concerned with Artemiy Panarin's small late-season swoon? No goals in the last eight games before the pandemic and just one goal in the three-game sweep?

16) What is the identity of this Rangers' team? Do we know? Is one needed?
17) Can Brendan Lemiuex repeat how he played in Game 3 against Carolina or was that the aberration and not the norm?
18) What should be done with Lias Andersson? (from Tommy G on 8/7)
19) Who will be Jacob Trouba's partner next season if it's not Smith? (from Tommy G on 8/7)
20) How does the looming Expansion Draft affect the decision made for a particular signing/trade/buyout? (from Hedgedog 8/8)

21) If buying one player out, presuming that it's not Lundqvist for a variety of reasons, is it Staal or Smith, or do you not buyout anyone?
22) Presuming Lafreniere is the pick, on which line does he start the season? If New York makes no major acquisitions, what is your top-nine and fourth line? Is Morgan Barron on the team to start the season? (new)
23) Who do you want to target in free agency or via trade? (please be realistic in your proposals. That applies to who New York could get and what they would give up, so no 4-for-1 offers where the team grossly overpays. (new)
24) Does Gord Murphy end up on the coaching staff for 2020-21 or is someone else brought in to helm the defense and the penalty kill? (new)
25) When do you think New York contends for the Cup? 2021-22, 22-23 or other? (new)

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