Player Comparison: Adam Fox and Cale Makar

Adam Fox and Cale Makar are two young defensemen, on the New York Rangers and Colorado Avalanche, respectively. Last season, both players had great seasons, with each of them putting up 40+ points. They were also nominated for the Norris Trophy, given to the best defenseman in the NHL. This year, they both improved their game and took the next step towards superstardom. Let’s take a look at their career progression, and try to look into their futures as these two players are going to be playing for a while.

How Their Careers Started:

Cale Makar was drafted fourth overall in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, by the Avs.  He was a highly-touted prospect out of the AJHL, a junior hockey league in Makar’s home country of Alberta, Canada. Since he was drafted, Makar has been a proven point-per-game player. He is an amazing skater, makes excellent decisions, and has superb stickhandling. Eliteprospects.com said that “his potential is that of a traditional franchise defender that can do it all”. 

Adam Fox started his career in 2016, being drafted by the Calgary Flames in the third round of the draft. Analysts questioned his defensive ability, as well as his concerns about his size and strength. He played for Harvard University, racking up 40 points in 35 games, and began getting attention league-wide. Fox did not want to sign for Calgary, so he was shipped off to the Carolina Hurricanes for a package with Noah Hanifin. Then, reports came out that Fox would be unwilling to sign for the Canes, so they flipped him to the Blueshirts for two second-round picks. In hindsight, the trade looks like a steal for the Rangers. Fox has been one of the best defenders in the league since coming to New York, and after playing just one full season in the NHL, he took home the Norris Trophy, as the best defenseman in the league.

Where They Are Today

Makar and Fox are just 23 years old. Both of them are in the top 4 of points for their respective teams. They both rank second and third league-wide for points by defensemen.   Fox has been a major contributor to the Rangers season, leading their defense and helping them to a 30-14-4 record. He is fourth on the Rangers in points, with only their offensive stars ahead of him. Leading the way for the Rangers’ surprise season has been Chris Kreider, with a league-leading 33 goals. Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad have been box-office watching as advertised, and behind those three superstars is Adam Fox.  Fox is typically either on a line with fellow Americans Jacob Trouba or Ryan Lindgren. The defenseman has been out with an upper-body injury since January 27. The Rangers went 2-2-0 in the time he was out. The defense struggled mightily while he was out, as the Rangers choked 2-0 leads in all four games that Fox was not playing. If Fox makes a rare mistake, he has the favorite for the Vezina Trophy, Igor Shesterkin, in goal behind him. 

 

Makar’s team is in first place in the Central Division, sitting at 32-8-4. The Avs are one of the best teams in the league, with the best line in hockey with Mikko Rantanen, Gabriel Landeskog, and Nathan Mackinnon playing together and scoring goals in bunches. They have such a high-flying offense, that the defense is often overlooked. Makar leads the defensive charge, along with newly acquired D-man Devon Toews. For Goaltending, the Avs have the tandem of Darcy Kuemper, and Pavel Francouz, who aren’t the flashiest names, but both have played lights out.

End of this Season

This season may end with the same three finalists for the Norris Trophy as last year: Fox, Makar, and Victor Hedman. All three have played outstanding, and will probably lead their teams on deep playoff runs. Fox took home the trophy last year, and he is making a strong case to repeat, however, Makar is also pushing to win the prestigious award. The two players will be battling it out for years to come, and I for one, can not wait to see it.

 

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