Friday was the return of Brett Pesce to the lineup for the Carolina Hurricanes. The bigger news was that the healthy scratch was none other than Tony DeAngelo. DeAngelo had played in every game to start this season.
On his second stint with the club, DeAngelo seems to bring adversity with him wherever he goes. With 353 games under his belt and an impressive 205 points, his skill is undeniable.
Don Waddell seemed determined to bring back the 28-year-old defenseman this past summer. On the outs with the Philadelphia Flyers organization, DeAngelo was made available via trade. Rumors swirled around a return to Carolina for a large part of July.
Sharing the trade rumors was Pesce after not being able to sign a new contract. Playing in the final year of his deal, Waddell was putting a hard line on signing a contract in the summer or the player would be traded.
DeAngelo signed but Pesce was never traded, as expected. This created some adversity as the Canes had brought in star defenseman, Dimitry Orlov, to start the free agency. The defense was also a very deep part of the roster to begin with.
More specifically, this defensive group now had 4 strong right-handed defensemen Brent Burns and Jalen Chatfield to join Pesce and DeAngelo.
The question has always been and will continue to be who should be in the lineup to give this team the best chance of winning?
To start the season Rod Brind’Amour played with 7 defensemen but that was never going to be sustainable. The Pesce injury made things easy for the short term, but now the main question will be brought back to the forefront.
Ever since Chatfield has been given an opportunity with the Canes, he has taken advantage and provided steady play at the blue line. His physicality and positioning in the defensive zone have been important to round out the top 6. Chatfield makes a strong first pass out of the defensive zone and has shown signs of strong offensive ability.
The New Jersey native has always been considered an offensive defenseman but sometimes to a fault. The chances he provides for his team to score need to be more than the ones he gives away to the opposition.
A true power-play quarterback, DeAngelo is a slick skating player with great vision from the point. Whether it be through passing or shooting, he always takes the chances needed to put the puck in the net.
The other side of these chances is giving the opposing team an odd-man rush the other way. Between last season and this season, DeAngelo is a combined -35, which is hard to ignore.
When the former first-round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning registers a point this season the team is 4-2.
Chatfield is a player who will not shy away from jumping up in the play but will not provide much flash. He does what is required of him offensively in Rod Brind’Amour’s system. His main objective is defending.
With the Michigan native, you will get someone who plays physical, having 78 hits last season. Another helpful quality to the team is his willingness to block shots with 63 last season.
Being one year younger than DeAngelo, Chatfield is finally getting his opportunity and has proven it is well deserved.
I think the next 3-5 games will have a rotation of these defensemen to earn the first chance to play the majority of the games.