Adam Fox will be a catalyst for New York Rangers rebound this season

NHL: Carolina Hurricanes at New York Rangers
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During this offseason, it has felt like the New York Rangers have been one of the more disrespected teams in the league.

From being ranked 11th by writers, to having their prospect pipeline drop to 15th in the league, expectations seem pretty low for the Blueshirts.

In a recent ranking of top five defenseman by Mike Kelly of NHL Network, Adam Fox didn’t crack the list. How? Not only has he already won a Norris Trophy in his young career, but the New York native was a finalist last season too.

Following their playoff debacle against the New Jersey Devils, there surely should be a lot of questions about this team. The one thing that should not be in question however is the elite status of defenseman Adam Fox.

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Adam Fox is elite

While Fox had a tough Game Seven in New Jersey, his insane production since coming into the league in 2019 has allowed older Ranger fans to remember Brian Leetch, and younger fans a chance to see what Leetch was like.

Adam Fox is not only a top-five defenseman in the league today, he’s top two. Since entering the league, Fox ranks second in assists and fourth in points among defensemen while quarterbacking a powerplay that is fifth in the league since he took over.

Despite what the Norris Trophy will tell you this past season, defense is wildly important for a defenseman. As a Harvard graduate, Fox’s intelligence and overall hockey IQ are brought up very often. 

“Growing up on Long Island I think education is a valued thing too so it was always education over hockey,” Fox said in a 2021 interview with ESPN. “ People are always more impressed that I went to Harvard than playing in the NHL sometimes.”

Fox’s intelligence has made him one of the more dangerous defensemen in the league since stepping on the ice. Fox only trails Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Jacob Slavin in takeaways since 2019. Shrink that timeframe down to just last season, Fox and Slavin were tied atop the league with 88 takeaways.

As a psychology major at Harvard, Fox has been able to use that experience to improve his game on the ice.

“A short memory is super important, mistakes happen.” Fox explained. “I think just coming back the next shift and bouncing back those are two things that are very important.”

Adam Fox is special player to watch

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What makes Fox such a special player is his ability to play both sides of the ice at an elite level. While he is second in the league among defensemen in takeaways since 2019, he is also fourth in points during that same time. And after following up a 74-point season in 2022 with a 72-point season in 2023, Fox became just the 10th defenseman in NHL history to have multiple 70-plus point seasons before their age-25 year. 

He was actually on pace for a 70-point year in the shortened 2020-21 season, which would have tied him with Hall of Famers Ray Bourque and Rangers legend Brian Leetch as one of six defensemen with three or more seasons of that caliber.

“Fox is a guy for me, with his little change of pace to get by, and his stones to make a play through people. He’s not afraid to make a mistake.” said then ESPN analyst and current Philadelphia Flyers head coach John Tortorella.

It seems insane to believe that, as we head into the 2023-24 season, Adam Fox is not considered a top-5 defenseman in this league by anyone. Since coming into the league Fox ranks in the top five among defensemen in assists, points, takeaways, offensive, defensive, and total point share. Fox was robbed of his second Norris Trophy a season ago by a guy who had the same number of giveaways as he did points. Don’t be surprised if Fox’s name is called again this year at the NHL Awards.

Steven Pappas is a North Jersey native who works as a news anchor and reporter at WHAM-13 in Rochester,... More about Steven Pappas

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