2022-2023 Flyers Player Profile: Tony DeAngelo

Nov 26, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Tony DeAngelo (77) and center Jesperi Kotkaniemi (82) react after a goal by Kotkaniemi against the Philadelphia Flyers in the second period at the Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Mitchell Leff-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 26, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Tony DeAngelo (77) and center Jesperi Kotkaniemi (82) react after a goal by Kotkaniemi against the Philadelphia Flyers in the second period at the Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Mitchell Leff-USA TODAY Sports /

The newest offseason addition from GM Chuck Fletcher of the Philadelphia Flyers comes with a great deal of controversy in the form of signing defenseman Tony DeAngelo to a two-year, $10m contract. The deal was clearly made in attempt to replace injured veteran big man, Ryan Ellis, in the lineup long-term, as well as to provide severely needed aid on the blue line for the Power Play unit. While it is no secret to anyone who has seen DeAngelo play that he can be very effective on the ice, the New Jersey native has found himself at the center of altercations with just about every franchise he’s played for dating all the way back to his OHL-playing days in 2014.

The signing of Tony DeAngelo is a very high-risk, low-reward contract due to the team’s lack of offensive weapons and major cap restrictions this season. He managed to keep himself out of trouble last year in what seemed to be a “last chance” type of opportunity with the Carolina Hurricanes. It is more than possible DeAngelo has finally gotten his act cleaned up and is ready to make money playing the game that he loves, but spending $5M on yet another defenseman–one that comes with a ton of bad PR, no less–who doesn’t improve the team in their own zone is certainly a gigantic eyebrow-raiser of a signing. This is yet another one of Chuck Fletcher’s moves that sparked outrage across the city of Philadelphia as the Flyers missed out on a number of great forwards who were available in free agency this summer.

Beginning in 2014 with the OHL, Tony DeAngelo played for the Sarnia Sting and earned himself two different suspensions in the same season for violating the leagues’s Harassment, Abuse & Diversity policy with the use of offensive slurs. His second disciplined action was for using a slur on his own teammate. DeAngelo was also disciplined multiple times that year for the abuse of an official. He was eventually traded by the Sting around the same that he was drafted by Steve Yzerman and the Tampa Bay Lightning, originally believing DeAngelo would leave the drama behind.

After zero disciplinary issues or penalty minutes through 19 games in Tampa’s AHL affiliated Syracuse Crunch, DeAngelo received two different game misconduct penalties on 12/7/15 vs the Albany Devils. The first for conduct against Joseph Blandisi, as well as “commentary against a referee” for the second misconduct penalty. DeAngelo was traded from Tampa Bay to Arizona the following season. He would go on to make his NHL Debut and even record his first goal on what was a pretty solid outing for a kid on a team like the Coyotes. However, on January 1, 2017, DeAngelo was once again suspended for shoving away a referee in the middle of a scrum.

Tony DeAngelo had already earned himself a poor reputation before even entering the NHL, but GMs took chances on him because they viewed him as a highly talented young defenseman who just needed time to mature, according to Yzerman. He carried his inexcusable behavior and lack of respect for authority into his NHL career almost immediately and refused to let it go until last year with the Carolina Hurricanes. His actions finally cost him some real money and opportunity when he was traded from the Coyotes to the New York Rangers, one of the Original Six teams of the NHL, and continued to get himself into disciplinary trouble despite excelling on the ice as a puck-moving offensive defenseman.

The Rangers were DeAngelo’s first real pushback though, in terms of an NHL team attempting not to give up on him while teaching him the consequences of reckless behavior at this level of the game. Under former head coach David Quinn, Tony DeAngelo was healthy scratched for 20 games throughout his first year with New York, and was even benched two games in a row for “maturity issues” vs the Flyers. This was Quinn’s attempt at keeping DeAngelo on a short leash in hopes of cleaning up his act.

On the contrary, however, as it only worsened the following season when DeAngelo took an unsportsmanlike penalty on opening night, was immediately benched the following game, and told by Quinn that he would be placed on waivers without hesitation if another type of similar incident were to happen again. By January of that same season, he was placed on waivers after reports became public that DeAngelo was in a physical altercation with former-Rangers goaltender, Alexandar Georgiev. He was technically placed to New York’s taxi squad after just six games played that year, but it was strictly a formality as Quinn ensured DeAngelo was not allowed near any of his teammates or the other taxi squad skaters.

If it hadn’t been for Dougie Hamilton’s departure from the Carolina Hurricanes, it is more than possible that Tony DeAngelo played his last NHL game when he was still a member of the New York Rangers. He’s produced points everywhere he’s played and impressed with skill, but proved time and time again that GMs would rather not deal with the controversy surrounding him. Thanks to Carolina’s pure desperation for a puck-moving defenseman, DeAngelo was given another chance on a one-year, $1M deal, almost a full $9M less than he was set to make on his deal in New York.

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DeAngelo played 64 regular season games for the Canes and recorded 51 points while coming up big in clutch moments, and managed to remain out of disciplinary trouble the entire season. Apparently, that was more than enough for Chuck Fletcher to throw $10M at DeAngelo across two NHL seasons and believe his old ways have changed. Although he could’ve just signed him on a minimum contract the same year Carolina did if Fletcher wanted this much more bad PR heading his way in Philadelphia after trading away a fan favorite in Lindblom and failing to even attempt to land the biggest free agent forward in Johnny Gaudreau, siting “too much difficulty” in moving contracts as the reason for doing so.

DeAngelo is a good player with a very bad reputation to fight back from. He could help make a difference for the Flyers over the next two years under John Tortorella’s coaching system, where he should certainly be held accountable for his own actions and will be expected to stand up for his teammates rather than fighting them like in previous years. This is just another example of Fletcher overpaying for one-dimensional athletes that he could’ve signed cheaper a year prior, though, and has not garnered all that much excitement from fans despite his ability to produce offense and run the power play. Only time will tell, though, if Fletcher and the rest of Philadelphia will regret this move or learn to love it.