When you watch Anthony DeAngelo skate onto the ice, he looks like a smaller forward. However, this smooth skater is actually a defenseman and a very good one at that. At 5'10" and 176 pounds, he is well below the NHL average in both height and weight for a defenseman. Because of his birthdate, DeAngelo will turn 20 in time to be eligible to play in the AHL despite only playing one year in Juniors after being drafted 19th overall in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.
Here's how the panel ranked him:
|Kyle Alexander||John Fontana||Mike Gallimore||GeoFitz4||Brett Frieman|
DeAngelo took a bit of a slide in the draft over concerns about character. Tampa Bay Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman and Scouting Director Al Murray however did their research and talked to key people about DeAngelo before deciding to take him. The organization had a glaring need for defensemen prospects with high end talent and Yzerman addressed that heavily in the 2014 draft by taking DeAngelo in the first round, followed by Dominik Masin and Jonathan MacLeod in the second round.
Blueliner Dan Boyle was a key part of the Lightning's 2004 Stanley Cup victory as a right handed power play quarterback. Boyle was traded to the San Jose Sharks after the 2007-08 season and the Lightning have struggled to find his replacement since then. Look no further than DeAngelo for that replacement. He can pass, he can shoot, he can rush with the puck. He is very much a forward playing on the blueline. Over his career in the Ontario Hockey League, he amassed 241 points in 236 games plus another 20 points in 23 playoff games. That is extremely impressive for a defensemen to hit the point per game mark.
DeAngelo began his OHL career with the Sarnia Sting in 2011-12. Unfortunately, the sting were not very good and only made the playoffs twice in the three full seasons DeAngelo was on the team never making it out of the first round. During the 2014-15 season, DeAngelo had 38 points in 29 games for Sarnia before being traded to the Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds at the trade deadline. He went from being on a very mediocre team to one of the most stacked teams in Canadian Junior Hockey. And he exploded. He added 51 points in 26 games for the Soo. Let that sink in for a moment. I'll wait...
During that time, he was one point short of being a 2 point per game player. That is absolutely incredible for a blueliner. He added 16 points in 13 playoff games. Unfortunately, his playoffs were impacted by an injury that kept him from being able to put zip on his passes and power behind his shot.
Here's what BoltProspects.com had to say about DeAngelo as they ranked him #2 on their Supplemental Prospect Rankings.
The Lightning are well represented in our rankings on the blueline, and the crown jewel of that group is OHL and CHL Defenseman of the Year Anthony DeAngelo. DeAngelo once again scorched the OHL with his offensive production, but the rapid development of the defensive side of his game is the truly encouraging sign for his future. A Dan Boyle-type pure offensive defenseman, DeAngelo will likely begin his pro career next season with Syracuse in the AHL, with the NHL not too far away.
The Lightning are a little bit clogged up on the blueline currently and there isn't a clear spot for DeAngelo to play in Tampa this season. Even with an injury to a right side blueliner like Garrison, Coburn, or Sustr, Luke Witkowski would more likely be the next in line to fill a third pair role. The only scenario where DeAngelo would possibly see extended playing time would be a long term injury to Anton Stralman as the need for a puck moving right hander would be much more pronounced if he was out of the line up.
Instead, DeAngelo should be the top right handed defenseman for the Syracuse Crunch for most of the year. His defensive game has improved over the past year, but will continue to need work as he adjusts to the pro game and gets stronger. He'll have some great players in Joey Mormina and Matt Taormina to help show him how to be a professional along with former NHL defenseman and Crunch head coach Rob Zettler.
Playing over 20 minutes per night, plus getting top power play time, it would not be a surprise to see DeAngelo scoring somewhere in the 0.5 to 0.75 point per game range in the AHL. It will not take long for DeAngelo to force his way full time into the Lightning blueline possibly as early as the 2016-17 season.