[UPDATE: DeAngelo has played his last game with the Rangers, says GM Jeff Gorton.]
Tony DeAngelo was not claimed by any NHL team Monday after the Rangers placed him on waivers.
Since Sunday’s news, there have been rumors about what prompted the team’s decision. A fight outside the Rangers dressing room after Saturday’s overtime loss to the Penguins is one story being reported by the New York Post’s Larry Brooks and The Athletic’s Rick Carpinello.
“There’s always rumors, so I’m not going to address rumors,” Rangers head coach David Quinn said Sunday. “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. We’ll see how the situation plays out.”
While he’s cleared waivers, DeAngelo’s career with the Rangers appears over. You don’t waive a player you signed to a two-year, $9.6M deal in October because of an on-ice miscommunication or locker room scrap. Whatever led to the team down this route was serious enough that they were fine losing him for free or, since it’s now the case, sitting him until this matter is resolved.
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What now for the Rangers? According to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, the team and Pat Brisson, DeAngelo’s agent, are working on next steps. There were no trade takers for the defenseman in the off-season, and now that he’s signed through the end of next season, and has baggage attached to him, how busy is GM Jeff Gorton‘s phone?
DeAngelo’s contract carries a $4.8M cap hit through the end of the 2021-22 season with a salary jump from $4.3M to $5.3M, per CapFriendly. His offensive numbers are not good though six games (one assist) and the save percentage when he’s on the ice is a paltry 75%, per Evolving Hockey. If there is a trade to be made, the Rangers will have to eat a chunk of that money or receive a contract in return.
Sending him to AHL Hartford is another option, but if management doesn’t want him around their NHL players why would they want him in a room with their prospects? A demotion would save the Rangers $1.075M from their salary cap.
Can the Rangers try to terminate DeAngelo’s contract, claiming some sort of breach? They can try, but the players’ union will likely contest that move. He can be bought out for one-third of the remaining value in the off-season, and New York — or any team acquiring him — would carry $383,333 next season and $883,333 in 2022-23 on their cap.
DeAngelo did not practice with the team on Sunday and Quinn said Anthony Bitetto will make his Rangers debut on the blue line Monday versus the Penguins (6:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN).
Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.