2022-23 Player Reviews: Tony DeAngelo is technically a defenseman

Tony had a rough go.

2022-23 Player Reviews: Tony DeAngelo is technically a defenseman
Photo By: Heather Berry

To really understand the story of Tony DeAngelo's season, it's probably best to start with how it ended.

DeAngelo finished the 2022-23 season firmly entrenched in John Tortorella's doghouse. A healthy scratch for the final five games of the season, DeAngelo, while conceding that the coach ultimately has final authority, called Tortorella's decision "ridiculous".

Tortorella stayed tight-lipped on the reasons for DeAngelo's lack of involvement, but it seemed as if there was something more to the decision than just substandard on-ice results.

But ultimately, regardless of what happened between the two, the plain truth is that the Flyers were probably better off without him in the lineup.

Basic Stats

This was easily, from both a basic and advanced stats standpoint, DeAngelo's most disappointing season in the NHL. Primarily valued for his ability to provide offense from the blueline, his production took a step back from his totals from 2021-22 and 2019-20. He offered a relatively decent output, but it was still his lowest point total since 2018-19.

With DeAngelo once again a net negative in his own end this year, he needed to maximize his contribution on the offensive side in order to really be a positive for the Flyers. And the reality is, the best aspect of his game took a firm step back this season, something that even DeAngelo himself admitted in his end-of-year press conference.

He had one more goal than he did last season in Carolina, but nine less points overall. And this is compounded even further by the fact that DeAngelo played six more games this year, and averaged over two more minutes played per game than he did in his year with the Hurricanes.

The reason why this is so problematic is because DeAngelo was simply not good at limiting opposing players from getting high quality chances when he was on the ice. His Expected Goals Against per-60 was ranked 7th worst in the entire league among defensemen with over 700 minutes played. His actual goals allowed per 60 was 39th worst, just slightly behind teammate Ivan Provorov, and the expected numbers suggest that DeAngelo's totals would be even worse if not for the play of Carter Hart.

And while Plus/Minus has been proven to be flawed as a metric, it is probably worth noting that his -27 was far and away the worst amongst Flyers defensemen, and the 7th worst rating of NHL defenders.

What They Did Well

DeAngelo's 42 points put him 27th in the league among NHL defenseman. That also made him the leading scorer on the Flyers blueline, which was, albeit, not the highest bar to clear.

DeAngelo also lead the Flyers in Power Play points, somehow tallying 19 on a unit who was dead last in the league at a putrid 15.6%. So again, not really as impressive as it seems when you consider that the Flyers (somehow) only had four players even reach double digits in PP points.

He did provide an offensive punch at times on the blueline that the Flyers have sorely needed for quite a while, and was far and away the most effective Flyer defenseman in the offensive zone.

And there was a compete level there? He tried to be physical, Tortorella praised his competitiveness at multiple points, but really I'm just trying to think of something else positive to say about him.

What They Did Poorly

DeAngelo's biggest problem is that he simply is not useful in his own end. He doesn't really block shots, he takes bad penalties on occasion, he routinely gets walked, and he doesn't make his partner better.

The one saving grace of his game is his offense, but as previously mentioned, the numbers were simply not good enough to paper over his obvious defensive deficiencies. While it is somewhat fair to point out that the Flyers lacked a true workhorse partner to compliment DeAngelo's weak spots, it's also equally as fair to point out that by now he should be able to handle his own regardless of what partner he is paired with.

Up until this point, the analysis has remained largely based on numbers, but it'd be negligent to look through Tony DeAngelo's season and not talk about just how much of a [EDITED FOR EXPLICIT CONTENT] he can be at times.

His two game suspension in early March for a gutless, blindside spear of Tampa Bay's Corey Perry just shows what kind of character DeAngelo possesses. Regardless of Perry's own history as an instigator, that is inexcusable. He has had problems with nearly every organization he's been involved with, going all the way back to his time in the OHL with the Sarnia Sting, and at 28 years of age, you wonder if he even has a desire to change.

He had two separate instances this year where John Tortorella decided to leave him out of the lineup, and the final stint was caused because of a rift between player and coach that Tortorella did not want to reveal. While it is true that at times Torts can put certain players in the doghouse undeservedly, this is par for the course for DeAngelo. More often than not, this is what happens.

Three Questions

Did they live up to expectations?

In one word, no.

DeAngelo was brought in to reinvigorate the power play, it was dead last in the league. He came in with expectations of building on his best offensive season, and he took a major step back. He was scratched for the last five games of the season because he lost favor with the coach who was seemingly excited about working with him. He wasn't always horrific on-ice, but with everything taken in totality, it just wasn't good enough.

What can we expect next season?

To be honest, nobody knows. Tortorella said he would like to have DeAngelo back next year, but the player himself admitted that there was a chance he wouldn't be back. Even if he does return, the only thing that's guaranteed is that he'll probably have 10+ goals and 40+ points.

How do we grade their 2022-23 season?

Overall, Tony DeAngelo wasn't the worst Flyer on the ice this year, but he wasn't the best either. His stats simply weren't as good as is expected from him, and the bottom line is even if Torts didn't have a falling out with his coach, there would still have been a case for benching him on a strictly performance basis. The Flyers essentially paid a premium for an angrier, worse version of Shayne Gostisbehere.

Grade: D+

Stats from Natural Stat Trick and Hockey Reference.