Defenseman from South Jersey expects to go in first round

Anthony DeAngelo (left), who grew up in Washington Township, visits LOVE Park with other prospects. "It's awesome," he said of the experience.
Anthony DeAngelo (left), who grew up in Washington Township, visits LOVE Park with other prospects. "It's awesome," he said of the experience. (ANDREW THAYER / Staff Photographer)
Posted: June 27, 2014

Anthony DeAngelo, a smooth-skating South Jersey product who led Ontario Hockey League defensemen in scoring last season, continued to live the dream when he took batting practice Wednesday at Citizens Bank Park with some of the other prospects who are expected to be selected in the first-round of the NHL draft on Friday.

"It's awesome," said DeAngelo, who sat behind home plate as the Phillies won the 2008 World Series. "It's insane that the draft is in Philly this year. What are the odds?"

DeAngelo, 18, had 15 goals and 71 points in 51 games for Sarnia last season. He grew up in Washington Township before moving to Iowa four years ago, when he played in the U.S. Hockey League. He is projected to be the first American-born player chosen in the draft. His size (5-foot-11, 175 pounds), speed, and offensive ability remind some scouts of a younger Shayne Gostisbehere, arguably the jewel of the Flyers' minor-league system.

When the Flyers select 17th in the first round Friday at the Wells Fargo Center, there is a chance that DeAngelo will be available. He would like nothing more than to play for the Flyers.

"I even admitted that to all the other teams in the NHL," he said of his pre-draft interviews. "It would be a dream come true to go to Philadelphia."

The Flyers, however, seem to be leaning toward selecting a forward with their first pick.

In mock drafts, DeAngelo - who said he may have 200 relatives and friends at the draft - is projected to go between 13th and 28th in the first round.

"I'm going to be honored to go to whichever team selects me," he said. "All that matters is where you are two, three, four years down the road, and not where you're drafted."

DeAngelo and five other prospects - including beefy defenseman Aaron Ekblad, who is expected to be selected by Florida with the No. 1 overall pick - toured historical and trendy Philly sites Wednesday. They went to the Art Museum, LOVE Park, and the Betsy Ross House. They had cheesesteaks at Pat's and Geno's and took batting practice off a tee with Phillies broadcaster Matt Stairs as their instructor.

"I lived around here, but there were a lot of things I had never done - the Rocky steps at the museum, the Betsy Ross House. It was pretty cool," DeAngelo said.

DeAngelo, a former youth baseball player in Washington Township, looked more comfortable at the plate than most of the other prospects, continually ripping liners to center.

"I've been getting nervous about the draft, and it's a good day to take your mind off the draft and just hang out with a couple of the guys," DeAngelo said. "As it gets closer, that's all you're really thinking about. There's nothing else going on. I've got my mother's birthday on Thursday, so besides that, I'm just thinking about Friday night."

DeAngelo received an eight-game suspension from the OHL last season for directing a slur at a teammate.

"A stupid mistake," he said. "Just something that slipped out of the mouth, a heat-of-the-moment kind of thing. There was nothing meaningful, and a week later we were fine. I got punished and I deserved the punishment and I just moved forward."

DeAngelo doesn't think it will affect where he is drafted.

"I was really honest about it and took responsibility for it," he said. "I'm not the kind of guy who's going to say, 'Hey, it's not my fault.' "

Couturier ailing

Flyers center Sean Couturier is on crutches after having a cyst removed from his foot.

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