Hartnett: DeAngelo's Hot Start Going Under The Radar


Although Tony DeAngelo’s game-winning goal in Monday’s 3-2 overtime victory over the Minnesota Wild was scored with panache, not enough attention is being drawn to his impressive and potentially record-breaking start to the 2019-20 campaign.

DeAngelo has begun his third season as a Blueshirt with seven goals and 10 assists through 22 games. Among NHL defensemen, his 0.32 goals per game only trail Dougie Hamilton (0.42) of the Carolina Hurricanes. His career-high 0.77 points per game rank 11th among defensemen. Hamilton (10) and John Carlson (eight) of the Washington Capitals are the only blueliners ahead of the DeAngelo in the goalscoring race.

You would have to look all the way back to the 1988-89 season to find a Rangers defenseman with a more efficient goalscoring output. Hall of Famer Brian Leetch finished that campaign with 0.34 goals per game, the highest of his career. (Note: This isn’t counting the under-seven-game samples of Alexander Karpovtsev in 1998-99 and Thomas Pock in 2003-04.)

Should DeAngelo continue on this pace, he would finish this season with 26 goals. That total would beat any of Leetch’s best seasons. Leetch twice netted 23 goals in the 1988-89 and 1993-94 seasons, though he was limited to 68 games in 1988-89.

Rangers defenseman Tony DeAngelo shoots and scores the game-winning goal in overtime against the Minnesota Wild on Nov. 25, 2019, at Madison Square Garden. Adam Hunger/USA TODAY Images

It’s a bit mindboggling to see a modern-day Rangers blueliner on track to outdo Leetch’s best career mark in single-season goalscoring. Reijo Ruotsalainen (28 goals in 1984-85) and Ron Greschner (27 goals in 1980-81) are the only defensemen to score more than 26 goals in a single season in team history.

Should DeAngelo continue on this pace, he would slot into third place. A hot streak or two might be enough to stand alone as the Rangers’ all-time single-season goalscoring leader among defensemen. That would be some claim to fame given the Blueshirts’ 94-year history and collection of offensively dominant blueliners like Leetch, Brad Park, Sergei Zubov, Ruotsalainen and Greschner.

DeAngelo’s shoot-first mentality was on display for all to see when he notched Monday’s deciding goal. He saw his lane and took it, he spied the lower corner and sniped the target with precision accuracy.

It only took 32 seconds of overtime for the 24-year-old defenseman to score the game-winner. After receiving the puck from Artemi Panarin, DeAngelo deftly skated around Joel Eriksson Ek and Ryan Suter before sneaking a low wrist shot past Alex Stalock. It was DeAngelo’s first career overtime goal.

He has now recorded 15 points (six goals, nine assists) over his last 16 games. Maybe the greater hockey world will soon take notice of No. 77’s rising stock.

Follow Sean on Twitter at @HartnettHockey.