The Flyers have had some interesting developments over their seven-game winning streak. Head coach John Tortorella has been sitting up in the skybox with team management evaluating his team from an eagle’s eye viewpoint. Young players like Ronnie Attard and Egor Zamula have been called up and contribute. But look a little closer, what will you see? Someone is missing from the lineup.
That someone is Tony DeAngelo. He is now scratched for four straight games with no explanation. DeAngelo last played during the loss to St. Louis. It was in that game that assistant coach Rocky Thompson said:
"“Quite frankly, it looks like some guys in here don’t even care. They’re just not trying.”"
A lot of fingers were pointed at Kevin Hayes based on the lack of production he’s been showing. However, Thompson could have been talking about DeAngelo. After all, this is not the first time that DeAngelo has been a healthy scratch.
DeAngelo is an enigma. He leads all Flyers defenders with 42 points. His 11 goals are the second highest of his career and his 42 overall points are his third highest. His 25 takeaways are jsut two shy of his career high set last season. However, his -27 is a career low after a +30 last season in Carolina.
Earlier this season, Tortorella said this about Tony D.
"“We want to try to help him. We feel he needs to get better defensively, without taking away any of the great offensive ability he has.”"
The coach has made it clear all season that he appreciates his abilities on the power play and his offensive skills. At the same time, he’s needed to tighten up on his defense. He turns the puck over too much; especially in the Flyers’ zone. He’s been moved all over the lineup as a front line pairing to the bottom pair. And while his energy and enthusiasm has been complemented on many times, his unwillingness to change has bothered the coach.
Likewise, Tortorella doesn’t air stuff out publicly. He doesn’t call out guys and embarrass them. When he’s been asked about DeAngelo recently, he’s been quiet, giving up only that he hasn’t “talked to him”
If DeAngelo is on the outs with the coach, there are two ways this could play out:
Scenario #1 — DeAngelo makes the changes Torts wants
DeAngelo uses this offseason to work on his game. If he can translate what he does offensively to defense, he could become a great asset for this team. For a team that looks as if it could be relying on a lot of young defenders over the next few years, having a solid, dependable veteran blueline could help to stabilize that. DeAngelo could turn that into a contract extension in Philly or parlay that into a great free agency contract down the road.
Scenario #2 — We’re headed for a breakup
The Flyers are committed to Cam York next year on defense. Justin Braun is a free agent and will be gone. It is likely that Egor Zamula and Ronnie Attard will get looks. Rasmus Ristolainen has made a lot of strides and seems to have earned Tortorella’s respect after struggling earlier this year. Nick Seeler is super cheap and has also earned the coach’s respect for his play. Other prospects like Adam Ginning, Emil Andrae, and Linus Hogberg are waiting. Travis Sanheim and Ivan Provorov may not be in the coach’s favor right now as they have struggled this year.
DeAngelo may be just a one-and-done for the Flyers. It’s a shame because he does have a lot of qualities this team could use. However, his reluctance to change may hinder this team. If he won’t listen to the coach, someone else will. He could be one of a number of Flyers who could find themselves on the trade block.
After all, he was scratched earlier this year. Some of that was due to play and some of that was due to a personal family matter. But all signs are that this team may be planning on moving on from DeAngelo. If that’s the case, this is yet another story line to watch this summer.