Coming off of a Norris Trophy winning season in 2021, Fox still had a lot to prove— that it wasn’t a one-off year, that he could continue to play that well, and most importantly, that he was worthy of out A+ grade last year.
It’s safe to say he did just that. The numbers may not have been as outrageously in his favor for a Norris repeat, but he had a huge hand in bringing the Rangers just a handful of games away from a Stanley Cup Final and really cemented himself as the best defenseman on this team that’s in it for the long haul.
The Rangers rewarded him for it just nine games into the season with a massive $66.5 million deal to ensure Fox will be playing for his hometown team through the end of the decade.
"I got this one." - Coast-to-coast Adam Fox. pic.twitter.com/IDQk244QfJ— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) March 6, 2021
Boxcar Stats: 61 GP, 11 G, 63 A, 158 SOG, 23:56 TOI/GP, 26 PIM, 5 Penalty Differential
Rangers fans, players, and front office alike, all likely didn’t know what the 2021-22 season had in store for them. Yes, the rebuild is in full effect and it was obvious the Blueshirts have been inching closer and closer to a successful season, in part thanks to players like Fox. But I’m not so sure anyone thought we would still be watching Rangers hockey in late June.
Something we did know? Adam Fox would put on another highlight reel performance almost every night.
Another look at that pass from Fox to Kakko. pic.twitter.com/X36RP3h1xk— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) June 4, 2022
Spending most of his season with Ryan Lindgren as a defense partner, it seems like the Rangers have really rounded out what they want their defense to look like with a Trouba-Miller pair slotting in behind Fox-Lindgren.
Adam Fox is the kind of hockey player that checks all the boxes and passes all the tests. He ranked fifth in Norris trophy voting this year, just a season after winning the trophy (he should have been much higher if you ask me). He was voted into the All-Star Game despite not attending due to injury that did sideline him for a handful of games in the middle of the season.
That didn’t slow him down much once he returned though. He led all Rangers defensemen in goals and points, almost doubling that of Jacob Trouba who ranked second in points. He also ranked second to last in penalty minutes among Rangers defensemen who played over half the season and took just one penalty during the playoffs, which speaks more to his hockey IQ and is understated about him.
Speaking of hockey IQ, Fox could probably write the ‘For Dummies’ book on it in his sleep. He is near perfect at exit control, plays an extremely heads up style of two-way defense, and has earned the Brian Leetch comparisons that he often gets. It’s just straight up fun to watch him play hockey.
Now I’m not the stat-iest, stat nerd that writes for BSB, but I don’t need to be to tell you that all that blue you’re looking at up there? It’s good. Fox is able to play for a lot of minutes and do a lot with his time on the ice without his play diminishing. I don’t think I need to tell anyone reading this, fancy stats or not, that Adam Fox passes the eye test. He is the definition of knowing where the puck is going not just where it is, and for that I not only think that he can he keep up with his pace from a Norris winning season, but he can exceed it and certainly win it again. Maybe add on a Stanley Cup or two also?...Please?
Author Grade: A-
Banter Consensus: A
It’s hard to give any demerits to someone who is shaping up to be similar, or dare I say, a more effective defenseman on the Rangers than Brian Leetch, but if a Norris winning season was the gold standard that earned Fox a unanimous A+, then an A- seems fair for just a little bit of edge shaved off. If I’m being completely honest, that’s okay. With the Rangers defensive depth getting better and better, Fox doesn’t have to do it all by himself. So if scoring a little bit less, and getting a few less minutes of playing time means that the third or fourth pairs can have some wiggle room and see more success? I’ll take the A- all day.
*All Data via Evolving Hockey