Defenseman Tony DeAngelo cleared waivers Monday and his career with the Rangers is over, general manager Jeff Gorton said.
"Yes, he has played his last game for the Rangers,’’ Gorton said before the Blueshirts concluded their two-game series against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Madison Square Garden on Monday night.
"What happens going forward, I don’t have the answer for that . . . He’s been assigned right now to the taxi squad. But we’ll look right now to see if there’s another place for him to play.’’
The Rangers are working closely with DeAngelo’s agent, Pat Brisson, in an attempt to find a team to which they can trade him. It won’t be easy.
The Rangers did try to trade DeAngelo, 25, who had a career-high 15 goals and 53 points last season, before signing him to a two-year, $9.6 million contract in the offseason. And, of course, none of the other 30 teams in the league claimed him — and his $4.8 million cap hit — off waivers when they could have had him for nothing.
DeAngelo reportedly got into an altercation with goaltender Alexandar Georgiev in the runway leading from the ice to the locker room after the Rangers’ 5-4 overtime loss to the Penguins on Saturday night. Gorton wouldn’t confirm the details of the incident, nor Georgiev’s part in it, but the GM said that was the last straw for DeAngelo.
"After the first game of the season [a 4-0 loss to the Islanders in which DeAngelo took an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty in the third period], he was told he wasn’t going to play [the next game],’’ Gorton said. "I’d spoken to him at that time and said, ‘Listen, if there’s any more issues here, the time is going to come where we’re going to put you on waivers and move on . . . If your name is in anything at all that we have to hear, we’re going to move on.
"Something happened,’’ Gorton said. "And I pretty much have to stay true to my word here, and the organization’s word, that it was time to move on.’’
Moving DeAngelo to the taxi squad — where he is eligible to practice with the team but won’t — will save the Rangers $1.075 million under the salary cap, which is helpful, though it leaves the Rangers with $3.725 million in dead money on their payroll.
DeAngelo will be paid his full salary. If he isn’t traded, the team could buy out the final year of his contract in the summer. Because he is under 26, the cost would be one-third of the remaining salary he is owed rather than the standard two-thirds.
DeAngelo had a history of impetuous behavior dating to his days in junior hockey, when he was suspended for eight games in 2014 by his own team for violating the league’s harassment, abuse and diversity policy with actions directed at a teammate.
The Tampa Bay Lightning, who drafted him in the first round that summer, traded him to Arizona after one minor- league season.
He seemed to mature with the Rangers, and last season he appeared to be a model citizen as he enjoyed the best year of his career. But he remained a controversial figure because of his outspokenness on social media and his far-right political views. The Rangers spoke to him about that several times, but team president John Davidson said DeAngelo’s political views and social media activity were not why he was waived.
Davidson also took time to address a story that had been put up on the internet suggesting that DeAngelo did not get along with Rangers rookie defenseman K’Andre Miller, who is the only Black player on the team. Davidson said that story "is 100% false. There’s no truth to it whatsoever.’’