On April 30th, 2019, the New York Rangers traded a 2019 2nd round pick and a conditional 3rd round pick in 2020 (that is now a 2nd round pick) to the Carolina Hurricanes for the rights to right-handed defenseman Adam Fox of Harvard University.
Fox was originally drafted 66th overall in 2016 by the Calgary Flames and had his rights traded to Carolina as part of the Dougie Hamilton deal. He was then moved to New York as reports were bubbling that the Jericho, New York native wasn’t going to sign with the Hurricanes and wanted to go home and join the Rangers. So, instead of letting the talented defender walk, the Hurricanes negotiated the deal and Fox was off to Broadway.
For the Rangers, Adam Fox was a young defenseman joining a right side of the blue line that featured the newly arriving Jacob Trouba and the strong offense of Tony DeAngelo. Fox was was slotted into the 3rd pair role at the start of season with the expectation that he would need some time to adjust to the NHL level and establish himself as a good, top-4 offensive defenseman that could maybe step in to the top pairing after a couple of seasons getting his feet wet.
That was what we expected. What we got was something very different.
Adam Fox is the Rangers best defenseman, bar none.
As a 21 year-old, Fox skated in all 70 of the Rangers’ regular season games putting up 8 goals, 34 assists for 42 points which was 2nd among Rangers’ defensemen and 7th on the team overall. The points are just scratching the surface though, all season long Fox shined bright while patrolling a blue line that couldn’t stop a stiff breeze. Just how good was Adam Fox? Well let’s take a look under the hood, via the wonderful folks at Evolving Hockey.
CF%: 51.59 (1st on the team, 1st among Rangers defensemen)
CF/60: 56.74 (7th overall, 2nd on the blue line)
CF Rel%: 2.99 (7th overall, 2nd only behind DeAngelo)
C +/- per 60: 3.5 (1st overall)
xGF%: 52.64 (2nd overall, 1st out of the defenders)
xGF/60: 2.71 (4th overall, tied with Tony DeAngelo as tops among d-men)
xGF Rel%: 0.27 (4th on the team, 2nd on the blue line)
xG +/- per 60: 0.27 (3rd overall, 1st among defensemen)
GAR: 14.9 (2nd among all Rangers, tops on the D-corps)
It wasn’t just the skating, passing, goals, or gaudy numbers that made Fox a breath of fresh air, his quick thinking and sound decisions with and without the puck also stood out.
Given the inherent state of the Rangers defense, there was an established lowered bar for Fox and he cleared that bar with ease all season long. Fox gave the Rangers and the fanbase more than they could have asked for in his first season and he was able to put up sterling numbers even while bouncing between Marc Staal, Brendan Smith, Libor Hajek, Tony DeAngelo, and Ryan Lindgren as defensive partners. On a team filled with young, talented question marks Adam Fox set himself apart by exceeding everyone’s expectations. After just one year in the organization, he already looks like he could be a cornerstone of the team moving team.
Final Grade: A+
Banter Consensus: A+
There were only three players given the A+ grade by the Banter writing staff. The fact that Adam Fox was one of them speaks volumes about his play during his first season in the NHL. There is a lot to be excited about when it comes to the future of the New York Rangers and Adam Fox cementing himself as one of the best young defenders in the NHL is definitely high on that list.
While there is a lot of work to be done on the blue line on Broadway, Fox’s emergence makes things just a bit easier for Jeff Gorton and company.