There was a surprising name on the NHL waiver wire on Sunday afternoon when the New York Rangers waived defenseman Tony DeAngelo.
Why so surprising? Well, let’s count the ways.
First there is the fact defense is the clear Achilles Heel of this Rangers team, and they aren’t really in a position to potentially be giving away players that could help for nothing. For all of his flaws away from the puck (and there are many), he can be very good — and perhaps even elite — with it. DeAngelo is coming off of a 2019-20 campaign that saw him record more than 50 points and actually receive three Norris Trophy votes.
That alone makes this move surprising.
Then there is the fact that he is just six games into a two-year, $9 million contract that he signed back in October.
Not usually the type of player you expect to be on the waiver wire this soon into a season. But here we are.
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There could be a number of factors at play here, from performance to off-ice.
When it comes to the former, DeAngelo has been bad so far this season and a lot of the mistakes are ending up in the back of the Rangers’ net. You also have to take into account that DeAngelo has been somewhat infamous for bringing a lot of negative attention to the Rangers due to his social media usage, which has included everything from fighting with fans over hockey and politics, to his opinions on the COVID-19 pandemic.
In short, he can be a headache, and one the Rangers have had to deal with “internally” before.
Rangers coach David Quinn addressed the move on Sunday and would not get into specifics, saying in part that “this was a decision the organization made and we’ll see how the waiver situation plays out.”
He said they might be able to address the situation a little more clearly and specifically over the next 24 hours.
He was also pressed on rumors that there was an altercation in the locker room following Saturday’s game.
“There’s always rumors. I’m not going to address rumors,” said Quinn.
“This isn’t about one incident, it’s not about one thing. This is a situation the organization felt was best at this current time.”
The questions now become whether or not another NHL team will claim him, and what the Rangers’ plan for him is if nobody does.
The most obvious team that might be a candidate right now is Pittsburgh. That is almost entirely due its current injury issues on defense where Brian Dumoulin, Marcus Pettersson, Mike Matheson, and Juuso Riikola are already sidelined, while Kris Letang exited Saturday’s game in the first period and did not return. But all of those players will be back at some point (some sooner than others), and the Penguins are not really in a position to take on another big contract that runs through next season. They also have an interim general manager at the moment and no one really knows what he can and can not do to the roster. So even that seems like an extreme long-shot at this point.
Either way, the Rangers are clearly unhappy with something and it should be interesting to see where this goes over the next 24 hours.
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.