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?
Or, in the case of one Tony DeAngelo, is 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.