GLENDALE - Thanks to the departure of Michael Stone via trade on Monday, rookie Anthony DeAngelo is getting another chance to prove he belongs in the NHL.
The Coyotes recalled DeAngelo from the American Hockey League on Tuesday, and he practiced with Arizona as the seventh defenseman.
"You never want to see guys you've played with get traded, but it's part of the business and I'm excited to be back up here and hopefully jump back in the lineup soon," DeAngelo said.
DeAngelo played 20 games for the Coyotes earlier this season, but he was sent to the AHL for a second time when the Coyotes began their bye week in early January.
The timing of his third recall to the NHL fits nicely with what he described as his improved play in the AHL.
"I didn't like the way I was playing when I first went down there, but recently I feel I picked up my game and got back to playing the right way," DeAngelo said.
DeAngelo notched two assists on Saturday to help the Tucson Roadrunners beat San Diego in what he hopes is his last AHL game of the season.
"He's gone down there and worked hard, and he' s just kind of the next guy in line for us," Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "One of the things that we've really tried to get him dialed into down there is becoming a better defender. His puck skills are all very good, NHL standard, but the ability to defend in some 'D' zone coverage situations has to continue to improve. So, we'll see where he's at and if he's improved in those areas."
DeAngelo, who produced three goals and six assists during his first two stints with Arizona, is eager to prove he can play both ways in the NHL.
"I just want to keep doing what I do, moving pucks and getting up in the play and help create offense, but I've got to be a solid defender, too," DeAngelo said. "That's probably the big key for me. That's the focus now."
DeAngelo's final game in the NHL before his most recent demotion was one he'd rather forget. Playing in Calgary on New Year's Eve, he was ejected from the game for physically abusing an official as the official dragged him away from a scrum of players.
DeAngelo served a mandatory three-game suspension for his actions, and the Coyotes are hoping he learned a valuable lesson.
"He still has to continue to prove himself day in and day out," Tippett said. "His growth and maturity are things that we're going to monitor. He has to make sure he has his emotions in check, and not let them get the better of him, and use those emotions in a positive way and not in a negative manner."
The Coyotes picked DeAngelo to fill Stone's roster spot ahead of AHL defenseman Kyle Wood, who is having a very impressive first season as a pro. Wood ranks fifth among AHL defensemen with 34 points (10 goals, 24 assists) and he recently played in the AHL All-Star Game.
"Kyle Wood has been a real productive player down there," General Manager John Chayka said a few hours after the Stone trade. "I still think he's got a lot of things to continue to work on. At this point, it's real important that our team in Tucson continues to grow and our young players continue to get better in that environment. That's kind of his focus at the moment."