This past offseason, the Flyers pretty much stood pat while the rest of the division improved. Outside of signing Nic Deslauriers, the Flyers didn’t make any major free agent move. The one move the team did make was trading for Carolina Hurricane blueliner Tony DeAngelo and then signing him to a two-year, $5 million per year contract extension.
This made some people in the Flyers fandom upset. DeAngelo has had a history of running his mouth and being a controversial player. After being released by the New York Rangers, only the Canes took a chance on him on a small deal. DeAngelo, humbled by this experience, put together one of his best seasons and appeared to redeem himself. Carolina, looking for some cap relief, sent him to Philly for three draft picks.
Since coming to Philly, DeAngelo has been the offensive defender the team has needed. On a team that has not scored much, he has chipped in four goals with 10 assists. Those numbers put him fourth on the team so far this season.
Tony DeAngelo has been away from the Flyers due to personal reasons
That also includes him sitting with a leg injury for a few games after blocking a shot against Pittsburgh after Thanksgiving. In his last four games before the western road trip, DeAngelo had a point in each game. Twice this year he’s played over 30 minutes as he is averaging over 24 minutes a game.
And yet, despite his offensive prowess, he is struggling on the defensive side of the puck. He is a -13, which is tied for the team lead with Travis Konecny and Scott Laughton. It is also the worst of all the defenders, with Ivan Provorov next up with a -12.
DeAngelo has always been more of an offensive-minded guy. When paired with a strong defender, like with Jacob Slavin in Carolina, it worked out well. The Flyers do not have a solid shutdown defender and DeAngelo’s liabilities are starting to overshadow his offensive capabilities.
When the team is struggling to score because of two lines of forwards are down to injury, effectively, you need to hunker down and play great defense to keep the team in the game. He hasn’t been doing that. It’s great when you can contribute to the offense, and he’s done that more than any blueliner, really, since Kimmo Timonen.
But defense comes first. And as the season went on, DeAngelo was dropped from the top line to the bottom line pairing. When he made the move, Coach John Tortorella said. Here’s what he said from an article written by Jordan Hall of NBC Sports:
"“Tony can be better, He’s ultra-competitive, love the way he plays, but positionally is something that I think we need to help him with. I think a number of our D, we’re really trying to concentrate on structure. I think with Tony, structure has to be a part of it without getting in the way of just the way he plays. He’s a hockey player. I think we need to allow him to be instinctive, also. We’re trying to find a fine line.”"
Tortorella, when he was first hired, also said he was excited about having DeAngelo on the team despite his past antics.
"“Tony DeAngelo’s a hell of a player, Tony DeAngelo has personality. Is he going to say and do some stupid stuff? You’re damn right he is. But I’d rather have a guy doing stupid stuff than have a choir boy here just going about your business. You don’t win that way, you don’t win championships, you don’t build a team without any personality. Tony’s going to bring that and, plus, he’s a hell of a player.”"
His benching has allowed Cam York a chance to play. Tortorella has said he wants to see the young guys play to see what they have to show. CBS Sports reported that DeAngelo is not with the team for personal reasons. Nothing was disclosed. Is something wrong? Has he not fully recovered from the blocked shot? Is he being disciplined? Has he had a falling out with Coach Tortorella?
It’s hard to say. Hopefully, everything is fine and he will be with the team soon. And when he returns, hopefully, he can contribute in the way we all hope he can. We can sure use his skills right about now.