At noon today, defenseman Tony DeAngelo was placed on waivers. This is the same Tony DeAngelo that posted 53 points in 68 regular season games last year, fourth among NHL defenseman. With 3 game winners and 2 OT winning goals, if you were looking at stats alone, he should have been a golden boy.
But any one who follows hockey, and certainly one that follows the Rangers, knows that TonyD has a few problems. First, if he is a member of your team, you have to know that his poor defense is going to result in goals against. With DeAngelo, this is a given, and the Rangers had to know that when they traded Derek Stepan and Antti Raanta for Tony and a first round draft pick in 2017 (Lias Andersson). The only question any team would have is, will he make up for it with his offensive production? Last year, he did. So far, this year, not at all.
But DeAngelo has a bigger problem, a problem that pre-dates the Rangers, and even pre-dates major junior hockey. I can remember watching him play with the Mercer Chiefs at around age 13. DeAngelo was so far ahead of his peers, it was ridiculous that he was even playing with them. He was one of the best players to come out of our area of New Jersey in years. But he knew how good he was and he was not quiet about it. He was so talented though, everyone said that his overconfidence was a maturity issue that he would grow out of.
DeAngelo went on to major junior hockey, where once again, he excelled. But he got suspended for 8 games in 2014 for using abusive discriminatory language toward a teammate–language that was forbidden by the league. During his draft year, no less. Ranked 10th overall before this incident, DeAngelo dropped a bit in the draft but Tampa Bay selected him, and everyone in hockey just once again said, he has maturity issues. His Sarnia Sting head coach said that DeAngelo “made a mistake and he got caught up in the moment.”
But one has to wonder if that was true, when you fast forward to now, where DeAngelo plays for his third NHL team affiliation in less than seven years. He is now age 25, and in addition to his political views (which are controversial and he has made no secret of over the last few months), DeAngelo has had trouble with at least one on-ice official, and now rumor has it, at least one teammate. This is all within the first month of the 2020-21 season.
So, the Rangers really had no choice but to put DeAngelo on waivers. Credit Head Coach David Quinn for saying that it was a business decision and that “we shall see how it plays out.” But this is a young team; a team that needs cohesion and a good introduction to the NHL. It can’t be distracted by a player, although very talented, who is going to create dissension. He had to go. Me thinks Tony overplayed his hand this time–way overplayed it. And it is such a waste of God-given talent.