GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Tony DeAngelo will become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights at the end of the season, and then the defenseman will be in line for a good-sized raise from the $925,000 he signed for as an RFA last September.
Although the season DeAngelo put together — he was fourth on the Rangers in scoring, with career highs in goals (15), assists (38), points (53) and games played (68) — normally would have earned him a multiyear, multimillion-dollar deal, there’s no way to tell how his next contract might be affected by a COVID-19 economy.
“I think (COVID-19 has) affected a lot of people a lot worse than it's gonna affect myself,’’ DeAngelo said Saturday after the Rangers’ fifth practice since the NHL started Phase 3 of its return to play protocol on Monday. “We're all in the same boat, players and free agents, and stuff, but there's a lot of people that are unemployed (because of COVID-19), so we're pretty blessed to still be able to play.’’
For now, DeAngelo said, his focus is on the Rangers’ best-of-5 play-in series against the Carolina Hurricanes, which begins Aug. 1. Like many of his teammates, DeAngelo has never played in the playoffs. But he said he imagines playing at a neutral site (Toronto) in an arena with no fans, may help make it easier on playoff newbies like himself.
“I have no basis (for saying) this, because . . . I haven't played. But I think with no fans, it kind of puts people on an even playing field,’’ he said. “I feel like the crowd noise, when you watch on TV — how loud it gets, and how crazy it gets — it could play a role for a young player in his first playoff game. It could kind of put you on your heels a little bit. Now, with a pretty silent building, I'm assuming — unless there's some crowd noise going on in there — you're kind of just playing hockey.’’
Tough adjustment for Trouba
Defenseman Jacob Trouba, who struggled to live up to expectations after being acquired in a trade last summer from Winnipeg and then signing a seven-year, $56 million contract with the Rangers as an arbitration-eligible RFA, admitted he had a hard time getting comfortable upon arriving in New York, and that may have played a part in his first 70 games with the team. He said, though, that the long pause in the season due to the coronavirus have helped him “reset’’ and he feels much more comfortable now than he did last October.
“I'd never been traded, never really gone to another team,’’ Trouba said in a Zoom call with reporters after practice. “So, it's definitely — I mean, as much I wanted to tell myself I was trying to be as comfortable I could, I was definitely uncomfortable.
“And I have the type of personality where it takes me a while to adjust, and really get comfortable with teammates, and new coaches and all that.’’
Trouba, 26, may be even more comfortable after he got married in Florida during the long pause. He said he and wife had a destination wedding planned for Cabo San Lucas, in Mexico, but that was canceled because of the coronavirus. They went ahead anyway, with a scaled back ceremony on their original wedding date.
“My family drove down from Michigan, and her family drove over from . . . the other side of the state of Florida,’’ he said. “So, we just kind of had our families come and have a little dinner and try to do it as safely as we could and still have some sort of little celebration.’’