If it weren’t for an absolute steal of a trade by the New York Rangers, we wouldn’t have the privilege of calling Adam Fox a Blueshirt. On April 30th, 2019, the Rangers traded their second-round pick in the 2019 NHL draft and a conditional third-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft to the Carolina Hurricanes for Fox. The young defenseman offered depth on the right side for a Rangers team that was desperate for help in their own end. Being a Hobey Baker finalist in his junior year, Fox foreshadowed a possibly victorious career ahead of him. So could the former Harvard student excel enough in his rookie year to earn himself an A+ from Rangers fans? Well, as a Ranger fan myself, I can tell you without any doubt that Adam Fox deserves a gold star in his first season on Broadway.
Recap of Fox’s Rookie Season
Adam Fox joined the Rangers just last season and has taken to the team as quickly as possible. A big reason for his swift transition to the NHL has to do with his college years. In his third and final season for Harvard Men’s Hockey, Fox tallied 48 points in 33 games. In his first NHL season, Fox registered 42 points in 70 games. Because of his impressive first season as a pro, Fox was in heavy contention for the Calder Trophy. However, unfortunately for Fox, he was snubbed the Trophy by the Avalanche’s Cale Makar. Nevertheless, Fox’s play this past season was still outstanding.
The Deadly Duo
A significant factor contributing to Fox’s success as a Ranger has to do with his defensive partner, Ryan Lindgren. These two youngsters built their chemistry far before making it onto the big stage, and it showed. For two years, both teenagers played together for the United States National Development Program in Ann Arbor. On top of this, the duo has won both a gold and bronze medal while competing at the World Juniors. Not only were they victorious on the ice, but they also played their fair share of video games together in between games. Lindgren jokingly once said in an interview that the two spent “a disgusting amount of time together.” As a result, as the bromance strengthened, so did their play.
Moreover, both players complement each other’s game exceptionally well. While Lindgren is known for his gritty, hard-nosed play style, Fox is known for his excellent defensive stick and exceptional playmaking.
Luckily for Rangers fans, Fox and Lindgren’s success story is only just beginning. As they both head into their second season of playing together, the sky is the limit for these two defensemen.
Adam Fox, Two Way Threat
Throughout last season, Adam Fox has shown that he is a threat from anywhere on the ice with or without the puck. A big reason for this is because of three things Fox does right: his head is up, his stick is down, and he is always in the right position. All three of these traits work together to give Fox an edge both offensively and defensively. The first trait, having his head up, gives Fox great vision on the ice. His ability to see the ice so well translates to his ability to find open players. Fox’s vision is so important because the Rangers defense performs many stretch passes during their breakouts.
This x-factor makes the Rangers defense so offensively oriented and capable of connecting on a pass to form an odd-man rush. Their ability to stretch out the ice and hit forwards in stride in the neutral zone causes opposing teams to be extra careful in their end. Secondly, Fox, in my opinion, has the best defensive stick in the game. What I mean by this is that both his stick and body is in the right spot to force turnovers. His body is square, his stick is in front of him, and he anticipates a pass through the middle. As a result, Fox keeps forwards on the outside of the ice and forces them to make a bad pass through the middle.
As you can see, these three things that Fox does so well was the main reason he had such an outstanding rookie season.
Looking Ahead To This Season
With the Ranger’s first game just a few days away, I am incredibly anxious to witness what 2021 has in store for Fox. Not only is Fox’s talent going to increase as the years go on, but the Rangers team, in general, has shown vast progress over the past couple of years. With the addition of Alexis Lafreniere and possibly K’Andre Miller in the near future, the Rangers roster is starting to gleam with talent. Not to mention now that Fox is establishing himself as a great two-way player, he will most likely see an even larger workload on both defense and on one of the two powerplay units. Either way, Fox will slowly work himself into the role of the headman of the Rangers defense.
Are There Any Concerns For Fox?
Fox has shown some of his talent and potential, and I believe he will continue along his successful trajectory. His poise with the puck elevates the Rangers offense while also being able to shift gears and lockdown on defense. As far as his skating goes, he skates fluid up and down the ice and maintains reasonable control when he has the puck. Finally, in his own zone, he maintains excellent gap control against oncoming forwards and makes crisp breakout passes when leaving the zone. All in all, Adam Fox is the embodiment of a modern-day defenseman with his two-way play style. As far as I can tell, I don’t think he will regress at all this season. He sticks to a simple game where defense comes first, and offense comes second.
Nevertheless, Fox’s yin and yang balance between his two-way play style is why he has had so much success in his early hockey career.