In this edition of The Journey, we look at the fantasy potential of Tampa Bay Lightning prospect defenseman Anthony DeAngelo.
Anthony DeAngelo left his hometown of Sewell, New Jersey at 15 to start his junior career with the Cedar Rapids Roughriders of the United States Hockey League. In his 28 games in Iowa, the young defenseman showed enough promise to become a second-round selection of Sarnia in the 2011 Ontario Hockey League Draft.
DeAngelo’s three-and-a-half seasons spent in Sarnia were nothing short of terrific from a numbers standpoint. Breaking out in his second OHL season, the undersized blueliner led all OHL defensemen with 49 assists in just 62 games. Improving on that mark in the 2013-14 season, DeAngelo put up 71 points in 51 games, a point output which led all OHL defensemen and ranked him top-30 among all players. He was drafted in the first round, 19th overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft in Philadelphia, just 30 minutes away from his childhood home across the Delaware River.
After being drafted, DeAngelo took his game to an even higher level. He finished his Sarnia career as the team’s all-time leading scorer at his position, recording 190 points in 210 games for the Sting. He was traded to Sault Ste. Marie after the Sarnia’s poor start to the 2014-15 season, and scored at close to a 2.0-per-game clip over his final 26 regular season games for the Greyhounds. DeAngelo was named to the OHL’s First All-Star team and earned the Max Kaminsky Trophy for the OHL’s Most Outstanding Defenseman.
In his first professional season, it was much of the same for DeAngelo despite the talent and age gap between the OHL and the American Hockey League. Playing for Tampa’s affiliate the Syracuse Crunch, he was second among rookie defensemen in scoring with 43 points in 69 games. Strangely enough given his prowess with the man advantage, none of his six goals came on the power play. Although he is not the biggest player on the ice, DeAngelo plays with an edge and three times had games where he finished with over ten penalty minutes. He could grow into a multi-category asset given his points and shots output and his potential penalty minutes numbers. Although the offensive side of his game is NHL ready, DeAngelo could likely benefit from more time spent in the AHL to continue to improve in the defensive third of the ice.
From a scouting perspective, it’s easy to be in awe of DeAngelo’s game-breaking offensive ability. He is at his best when moving north and south, picking the puck up in his own end and either skating it through the neutral zone or sending accurate breakout passes to his teammates. The young rearguard still has plenty to learn in the defensive zone, which could keep him in the AHL for at least another year, but he has improved since turning pro. If DeAngelo can learn how to cut down on the pinching in the neutral zone, he will likely be able to play more than a PP-quarterback role in the Lightning lineup. Worst case, he is a second-paring defenseman who will be lethal with the man-advantage.
Fantasy Potential: DeAngelo has the potential to be a 60-point defenseman in the NHL. He will be lethal on the power play, and should be able to collect a large amount of first and second assists in all situations with the Lightning. As a true offensive rearguard, DeAngelo is able to set the pace from the backend and generate offense for his teammates with his elite-level skating and vision. Last year in the NHL, four defensemen finished with at least 60 points, the most since the 2007-08 season. If DeAngelo reaches his full potential he could be in line for that type of offensive output.
Dobber Prospect Rank: 4th ranked prospect defenseman in DobberHockey’s Top 50
Fantasy Outlook: A
Pros: Offense, Vision, Hockey Sense, Skating and Passing Ability
Cons: Continuing to add strength, defensive awareness
Anticipated NHL Arrival: Tampa currently has two defensemen signed past 2017-18, so there is an upcoming window for DeAngelo to be integrated into the lineup on a full time basis next season. He may receive his first call up this year, but unless he has a Shayne Gostisbehere-like affect, the Lightning would be happy to see him dominate in the AHL for another year.
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