GREENBURGH, N.Y.— Tony DeAngelo was back at practice Monday and happy to be there. The 23-year-old defenseman skated with his Rangers teammates for the first time since agreeing to a one-year, $925,000 contract on Friday.
“There’s nothing personal. I think we were just kind of waiting, looking at options, and stuff,’’ said DeAngelo, the South Jersey native who was a restricted free agent this summer. “This is a good spot for me. It’s a good situation. The cap situation is what it is. I’m happy to be back and have a good season.’’
DeAngelo, a 5-11, 180-pound, righthanded shooter, led all Rangers defensemen in scoring last season, amassing 30 points (four goals, 26 assists) in 61 games. But as an RFA without arbitration rights, he had no real leverage to negotiate much more than the $874,125 qualifying offer the Rangers were obligated to give him. And with the Rangers in a tight salary cap squeeze, even if management was willing to give him more money, it really couldn’t afford to do it. So, eight days after camp opened, DeAngelo and his agent, Pat Brisson, decided to take what they could get and just report to camp.
“Obviously, I wasn’t looking to let this go into the season. I wanted to play a full season,’’ DeAngelo said. “I wanted to be here, with my teammates and stuff, too. I wasn’t even looking to not be here the week before, but it is what it is.’’
With the Rangers having added the talented Jacob Trouba and rookie Adam Fox to their defense corps this summer, DeAngelo was asked what he expects of himself this season. He said he expects to just build on the consistent play he put together in the second half of last season.
“I’m just going to go out there and try to contribute the same way I did and keep getting better,’’ he said. “And we’re all looking to win. Obviously, we want to take a big step forward this season, so whatever it takes for us to win, everybody’s going to be on board with. Obviously, everybody wants to have personal success, but, two years in a row out of the playoffs, I think we’re looking to put the team first, and everything else will fall into place.’’
Rangers coach David Quinn said DeAngelo is “in great shape,’’ and may play Thursday, when the Rangers host the Philadelphia Flyers at the Garden. DeAngelo said he hopes to be able to play in both of the remaining two preseason games. The Rangers finish their preseason schedule Saturday in Bridgeport, Connecticut, against the Islanders.
Notes & quotes: DeAngelo was in the second practice group. The first group is the lineup that will face the Islanders in Tuesday’s preseason game at the Garden. LW Artemi Panarin, who left last Wednesday’s game against the Devils with a groin strain, practiced and is expected to play Tuesday. Gs Henrik Lundqvist and Alexandar Georgiev will both play, Quinn said, though the coach didn’t know whether the two would have equal playing time… D Yegor Rykov, who sprained an ankle in the Traverse City prospect tournament, practiced for the first time since camp began… RW Vinni Lettieri sat out practice with what Quinn said was a lower body injury. It’s not considered serious, the coach said… The Rangers assigned five players to AHL Hartford: Fs Dawson Leedahl, Tim Gettinger, Nick Jones and Connor Brickley, and D Sean Day.