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DeAngelo needs to nail his second audition

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The injury to Shattenkirk has opened a door for the young defenseman.

New York Rangers v Los Angeles Kings

On Saturday Tom Urtz Jr. wrote an in-depth piece about how Kevin Shattenkirk’s injury has created a unique opportunity for the Rangers to evaluate their young defenseman. Naturally, the first player he discussed was Tony DeAngelo.

From Tom’s piece:

Whatever AV decides, hopefully he is consistent in how he deploys DeAngelo. This is a prime opportunity to evaluate what type of player he is and how he fits into the big picture of the Rangers. He’s a great skater and puck mover, and he needs to be put in a position where the Rangers can benefit from his strengths.

The fresh start that DeAngelo so desperately needed with his third NHL organization in three years evaporated quickly.

It’s hard to put into words how much of a roller coaster DeAngelo’s time in the Rangers organization has been since late June. After making the team out of training camp the young defender was a healthy scratch after just three games. DeAngelo returned to the Rangers lineup on October 14, but he didn’t last the month. Jeff Gorton assigned him to Hartford on October 24.

We all know the price tag that’s attached to DeAngelo. Gorton acquired him and the pick that became Lias Andersson in exchange for Derek Stepan and Antti Raanta. No one expected Andersson to make an immediate impression with the big club, and few were distraught when he didn’t. But DeAngelo was a different story. Not having an asset from the Stepan trade on the team was alarming. Gorton and the troubled defenseman he brought in became easy targets.

New York Rangers v Los Angeles Kings Getty Images

In Hartford DeAngelo failed to impress to an alarming level. For a time he was a healthy scratch under first year Wolf Pack coach Keith McCambridge. But Gorton still had him at the top of the list of players to recall after shutting down Shattenkirk. As a result the former Lightning prospect earned an unexpected second audition on Broadway this season. DeAngelo can ill afford to see the vaudeville hook appear out of the shadows from stage left this time around. He needs to nail this.

On January 21 in a game against the Los Angeles Kings DeAngelo had a 19:17 TOI and picked up a primary assist on the power play. But he also got into a shoving match with Trevor Lewis that eventually unraveled into defensive partner Brendan Smith dropping the gloves with Adrian Kempe. Smith earned an extra roughing minor and the Kings scored a power play goal on the other side of the first intermission.

Is Smith fighting and getting a minor penalty DeAngelo’s fault? Of course not, but we have already seen the young defenseman show his agitation several times in a Rangers jersey. This is something DeAngelo needs to work on, especially with Alain Vigneault and his frequently-used doghouse for young players who take bad penalties behind the Rangers bench. There’s a difference between playing with an edge and swagger and hurting your team because you’re irascible.

DeAngelo needs to impress Vigneault and New York’s front office in the worst way. Whether or not management is ready to embrace it, it appears that the best way forward for the team is to commit to rebuilding through the draft and young talent. DeAngelo is still just 22-years-old. He can still be a part of the solution. But his greatest obstacle isn’t Steven Kampfer or Neal Pionk; it’s himself.

Oh, and it would also probably be for the best if he stayed off of Twitter.