Tangradi is referred to as "The Big Dog", due to his large stature and his power forward style of play.
Tangradi, originally from the Philadelphia area, played High School Hockey for Archbishop Carroll and won a Pennsylvania State AA Championship in 2004 over 2-time champions Peters Township and played one season for Wyoming Seminary Prep School in Kingston, PA.
He played three seasons of junior hockey with the Belleville Bulls of the Ontario Hockey League. In 2008, Tangradi was named captain of the Bulls team. In 2008-09, Tangradi had a break-out junior season, posting 38 goals and 88 points in just 55 games. During the season on December 9, 2008, he was also signed to a three-year entry-level deal with the Anaheim Ducks.
On February 26, 2009, Tangradi was traded along with Anaheim Ducks forward Chris Kunitz to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for defenseman Ryan Whitney. Tangradi was named the Boston Pizza OHL & CHL Player of the Week for the week ending April 12. Tangradi at seasons end was named the Belleville Bulls Humanitarian of the Year, Most Outstanding Forward, and Top Scorer.
Tangradi tallied his first professional point in his first professional game in the AHL with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on October 3, 2009 against the Syracuse Crunch. He assisted on a Wyatt Smith goal in the second period. He later scored his first professional goal in the AHL on November 11, 2009 against Jean-Philippe Lamoureux of the Portland Pirates. Off of the following face-off, Tangradi entered his first professional fight taking on Kyle Rank.
Tangradi made his NHL debut during the last game of the season, on April 11, 2010 against the New York Islanders.
The following season, Tangradi made the NHL club out of training camp. On October 11, 2010, Tangradi scored his first NHL point against the New Jersey Devils assisting on an Alex Goligoski goal. On October 15, 2010, Tangradi scored his first NHL goal against goaltender Rick DiPietro of the New York Islanders. After being reassigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on December 8, 2010, Tangradi scored his first professional hat trick against goalies Jussi Rynnas and Ben Scrivens of the Toronto Marlies.
During a February 11, 2011, game vs. the New York Islanders Tangradi was a victim of an elbow to the head by forward Trevor Gillies. Gillies was suspended 9 games for the hit. Tangradi was sidelined for two months, due to concussion symptoms. On January 13, 2012, Tangradi picked up his first NHL fighting major when he took on Erik Gudbranson of the Florida Panthers. On April 18, 2012, Tangradi tallied his first NHL playoff point against his hometown Philadelphia Flyers, assisting on a Jordan Staal goal. Tangradi's legacy with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins is that he is ninth on W-B/S' all-time goals list with 60 in 178 games.
During the 2012–13 shortened season, Tangradi was traded by the Penguins to the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for a 2013 sixth-round pick.
Tangradi scored his first goal as a Winnipeg Jet on March 7, 2013 against the Tampa Bay Lightning's Anders Lindback. Tangradi played his first full season at the NHL level with Winnipeg in 2013-14 where he assumed a fourth-line left wing role.
On October 5, 2014, Tangradi was traded by the Jets to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for Peter Budaj and Patrick Holland.
During the 2014–15 season Tangradi recorded 14 goals and 17 assists in 48 games with the Canadiens' AHL affiliate the Hamilton Bulldogs, and 17 penalty minutes in seven games with the Canadiens.
On July 8, 2015, the Detroit Red Wings signed Tangradi to a one-year contract. On October 4, 2015, Tangradi was assigned to the Red Wings' AHL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins. On December 28, 2015, Tangradi was recalled by the Detroit Red Wings. He was assigned to the Griffins on December 30. On January 24, 2016, Tangradi was recalled by the Detroit Red Wings. Prior to being recalled, Tangradi led the Griffins with 31 points, and was tied for fifth in the AHL with 16 goals in 36 games. He was reassigned to the Griffins on January 26. On March 21, 2016, the Red Wings signed Tangradi to a two-year contract extension.
Growing up in Philadelphia as the son of a postal worker, Tangradi was a diehard Flyers fan. His bedroom included Eric Lindros and Keith Primeau jerseys and a Flyers “Legion of Doom” poster. In a city where hockey took a backseat to baseball and football, he loved playing stick sports (lacrosse was another early passion). He was playing in a floor hockey league at a local YMCA when someone suggested to his father that he should try roller blades and, eventually, ice skates.
Was average in size for his class, Tangradi was a little overweight until he hit a growth spurt in the ninth grade. At age 16, his coach was Ed Hospodar, a retired NHL defenseman who was an enforcer for the Flyers and New York Rangers, among other teams. “He asked me to name my favorite players and when I said Keith Primeau, he said, ‘That’s your guy. Be like him,’ which meant playing a north-south game, being physical and strong on the puck," eventually building himself into the power forward mode.
When he found himself struggling with his confidence in the minors, Tangradi talked with his agent and a number of former coaches and decided to start seeing a sports psychiatrist. He has confided that he believes the sessions have been therapeutic. “We spend five nights a week pumping iron, running stairs, and practicing, but as hockey players, we don’t do the proper things to train our brains," Tangradi told Griffiti editor Mark Newman. "It’s all about staying positive and staying on task in terms of what’s important.”
Tangradi is a dog lover who owns a boxer named Carson in honor of the street in Pittsburgh where he met his wife, Caitlyn Hess. The couple married on June 21, 2014. A Penn State graduate with a flair for fashion, Hess started SCHEÉ (pronounced SHE-ay), a shoe company with a philanthropic twist where a percentage of each sale goes to a charity.Tangradi was a member of the United States team in the 2009 World Junior Hockey Championships.
Tangradi was a member of the 2009 Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins.
Tangradi was named the Reebok/AHL Player of the Week for the period ending Dec. 12, 2010.
Named to the 2011 AHL All-Star game.
Tangradi was a member of the 2017 Calder Cup Champion Grand Rapids Griffins.