One of the most active teams during the first day of the NHL free agency, the Carolina Hurricanes took a chance from defensive man Tony D’Angelo on Wednesday.
The veteran, seven months following his tumultuous exit from the New York Rangers, has agreed to a one-year, million-dollar deal with the Hurricanes, joining a club that prides itself on defending but has made some big change in the field as well.
Last week, Rangers bought DeAngelo from the final year of his New York deal, once and for all, following he was paroled in January following a series of events that included an off-ice showdown with a teammate.
Then-Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton said in February that DeAngelo had played his “final game for Rangers,” and had been assigned to the taxi squad but told him not to report. At the time, all NHL teams had the opportunity to pick up Deangelo on his current contract, but he didn’t do anything.
DeAngelo, 25, was signed for $4.8 million, and the buyout saved the team just over $4.4 million next season with a salary cap of just under $900,000 in 2022-23, which Rangers used to retool to build unused depth and image under New General Manager Chris Drury.
DeAngelo has had 53 points in 68 games in the 2019-20 season, displaying the considerate of discreet aptitude along the blue streak that many teams crave from a Hurricanes perspective. He explained that his history had been researched prior the decision was made.
“Tony is a defensive guy who skates smoothly and moves the disc,” Carolina General Manager Don Waddell said in a statement. “We’ve done a lot of background work on this player and are confident he can be a positive addition to our squad.”
At the time of his demotion, according to Gorton, DeAngelo was “unable to move on” from the bench for the second and third games of the season, a decision made by previous coach David Quinn following DeAngelo committed an unsportsmanlike penalty in the house openers.
“I told him that if his name came up in anything at all, he would be in exemptions,” Gorton said then. “I felt I had to stick to my word, the word of organization.”
Gorton confirmed that there was a post-match confrontation between DeAngelo and teammate Alexandar Georgiev following the loss to Pittsburgh Penguin, and it was seen as the final straw.
In his breakout season from 2019-20, DeAngelo ranked fourth in goalscoring among all NHL defenders with 15 goals and 38 assists, and was ranked 12th in the Norris Trophy vote.
But then he fought the unused decade, and was on the ice for four of Pittsburgh’s goals in the pre-crash loss. According to sources, DeAngelo made a comment to Georgiev as he walked in the tunnel afterwards, which sparked a physical altercation. The source told ESPN it was quickly dismantled by colleagues.
Drafting number 19 overall in 2014 by Tampa Bay Lightning, DeAngelo also played for the Arizona Coyotes, and has a history of disciplinary issues. He was suspended twice during his junior career at OHL, including for violating university policy covering “homophobia, racism and sexual language” and mistreatment of officials. He was also suspended for three NHL games in 2017, while with the Coyotes, for physical abuse of officials.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.