On the same day of 2021 NHL Free Agency where the Canadiens continue to explain drafting Logan Mailloux, the Hurricanes paralleled that decision. For better or worse, Carolina clearly know it’s controversial to sign Tony DeAngelo, but they did it anyway.
Like the Canadiens, they tried to meet the bad press halfway by explaining the decision, essentially, as they made it.
“Tony is a smooth-skating, puck-moving defenseman,” GM Don Waddell said in the team’s official release. “We’ve done a lot of background work on this player and we are confident that he can be a positive addition to our group.”
The Hurricanes signed Tony DeAngelo for one year at $1 million. Their gamble is that he delivers to the degree that they not only get more than that in on-ice value, but also that it’s worth the very negative PR.
It’s certainly … a choice. Curiously, as a player, DeAngelo is the type of defenseman who tends to anger coaches and “hockey men.” Generally speaking, people don’t always have a ton of time for blueliners who bring such an extreme of potent offense with lousy defense:
Tony DeAngelo, reportedly signing with CAR, is a top four one-way offensive defenceman and powerplay specialist. Pretty sure that's the only notable information about him, right? #LetsGoCanes pic.twitter.com/ejkKazo8m9
— JFresh (@JFreshHockey) July 27, 2021
Again, though, the Hurricanes aren’t just betting on Tony DeAngelo, the player. They’re also gambling on Tony DeAngelo, the person.
Will signing DeAngelo be worth it to the Hurricanes?
To put things mildly, the Hurricanes signing of DeAngelo will be polarizing.
It’s the sort of move that can distract from other Hurricanes free-agent signings. Bringing in DeAngelo takes attention away from (seemingly) letting Dougie Hamilton walk. Less attention goes to the new goalie duo of Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta. There’s even concern regarding how DeAngelo might interact with trade acquisition Ethan Bear.
As much as NHL teams insist that they hate “distractions,” the Hurricanes invited that in. In the process, they might have left fans feeling excluded.
Good luck selling the fanbase on the rest of the off-season is all I’ll say.
— Corey Sznajder (@ShutdownLine) July 28, 2021
However people feel about Tony DeAngelo’s (outspoken) political beliefs, he’s clashed both with teammates, opponents, and on-ice officials. PHT’s Adam Gretz neatly summarizes his history of altercations, which eventually inspired his falling out and buyout from the Rangers:
Been suspended for racial slurs. Been suspended twice (once in juniors, once in the NHL) for abuse of officials and also had a *different* ejection for it in junior. Got into a fight with his teammate coming off the ice in the NHL. Just a total mess of a player.
— Adam Gretz (@AGretz) July 27, 2021
From a money standpoint, a one-year, $1M contract for Tony DeAngelo is low-risk for the cost-conscious Hurricanes. It’s a huge gamble, and maybe not a wise one, if Carolina is at all image-conscious.