When the New York Rangers acquired Adam Fox back in the spring of 2019, they knew they would be getting a very talented offensive defenseman who could play a big part in the team’s future. Little did they know, shortly after his first season in the NHL he would become their top defenseman. Fox finished fourth in voting for the Calder Trophy, awarded to the league’s top rookie. He even earned one vote for first place due to the massive impact he had on the Rangers. Now a quarter of the way into his sophomore season, the 22-year-old blueliner has emerged as the go-to blueliner and a workhorse for the team he grew up watching.
His Rookie Season Set the Stage For His Emergence
Fox quickly cemented himself last season as an important piece of the team, he finished his rookie season with eight goals and 34 assists for 42 points, both were second among Ranger defensemen to Tony DeAngelo. That is very impressive production from a rookie blue liner. He finished seventh on the team in points and tied for fourth in assists with Mika Zibanejad. Fox was also the team leader in CF% with 51.71% at even strength, according to Natural Stat Trick. The only other Rangers to post over 50% were Pavel Buchnevich and Artemi Panarin.
Statistics aside, Fox also emerged as one of the top Rangers on the defensive side of the game. His astronomical hockey IQ was frequently putting his stick and body in the right position to break up plays, take away shooting lanes or just to direct attacking players to low danger areas. By the end of the season, Fox and Ryan Lindgren had become the top defensive pairing in New York.
Heading into this season, Fox and Lindgren were expected to stand firmly as the team’s top pairing, which they have seemingly eased into. Despite the season opener where essentially every Ranger had a night to forget, Fox has consistently been one of the best Rangers on the ice. Fox’s most frequent partner has unsurprisingly been Lindgren, the pair has played 164:34 together at even strength and have only been on the ice for one goal against. Among defensive pairings that have played at least 100 minutes together, they have been on for the fewest goals against when teams are at even strength.
Although still early in the season, the Long Island native looks like he has picked up right where he left off. Through 13 games, he has one goal and six assists, five of which are primary. He is second on the team in assists, behind only Panarin and third on the team in points, behind Panarin and Buchnevich. Fox is still a big offensive plus for the Rangers even when he is not scoring as the Rangers are outshooting opponents when he is on the ice.
Fox has been utilized in all situations and as expected, leads the team in time on ice with 323:28, Jacob Trouba is second on the team with 290:07 TOI. He leads the team in even strength ice time and is second on both the powerplay and penalty kill. Fox has taken DeAngelo’s spot on the top powerplay unit as well. The powerplay is where most of his production has ben done, scoring his one goal and adding four helpers with the man advantage.
While on the ice, Fox has demonstrated the same qualities that made him so effective in his rookie year. He continues to move the puck exceptionally well, even demonstrating slick skating with it. His ability to get shots through traffic and create rebounds is still there and he is still defending very well. Fox is a player that makes very few mistakes but when he does, he has been able to recover from many of them.
Fox has been incredibly effective in all three zones for the Rangers and it has clearly been noticed by David Quinn. According to Hockey Reference, Fox averaged 18:54 last season, seeing only 12:24 in his NHL debut. From then he played mainly between 15-18 minutes for the first month of the season when he started seeing about 20 minutes per game. The single game high Fox saw was 24:29, this season it has been 27:26 in the Rangers most recent game. This season, his average ice time has jumped up to 24:53, 11th highest in the entire NHL.
Fox has been nothing short of stellar for the Rangers in his young NHL career, while two second round picks may have seemed like a steep price to pay at the time of the trade, the Rangers are no doubt more than happy with the outcome. Given how early he is in his career, it would not be unreasonable to see even further improvements from Fox who has been very good from the moment he stepped into the NHL. He should be a mainstay on the Rangers blue line for years to come as the team continues to inch closer to contention. For any success the team finds in the next several years, we can expect Adam Fox to big a big reason for it.