The Adam Fox factor in Rangers contract negotiations with RFA defenseman

NHL: New York Rangers at Dallas Stars
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

As the New York Rangers negotiate a contract this summer with restricted free agent defenseman Ryan Lindgren, there’s an important factor to consider outside of contract length and the dollar amount.

Of course, those are the most important issues at play, especially with the Rangers trying to limit Lindgren’s term and average annual value since they face a fiscal crunch next offseason when Igor Shesterkin (unrestricted free agent), Alexis Lafreniere (restricted free agent with arbitration rights) and K’Andre Miller (also RFA with arbitration rights) are due major raises.

That the Rangers are likely concerned about a longer-term deal with Lindgren because they fear his body breaking down earlier due to his all-out play style also factors into the tricky negotiations.

But Mollie Walker of the New York Post pointed out something else that needs to be considered when she was a guest this week on the Rink Rap podcast presented by Forever Blueshirts.

“It is sticky because of what’s ahead and because [Rangers general manager Chris] Drury needs to account for that but the other thing that Drury needs to account for is that Ryan Lindgren is Adam Fox’s left-hand man, the groomsman in his wedding,” Walker explained. “That’s your Norris Trophy-winning defenseman. You want to provide him with the utmost — they’ve been together since they were teenagers. They have a very good thing going.

“So, it is still a priority that needs to be treated as such and I do think that the Rangers see it that way. I do think term is the issue now. So, it will be tricky for Drury.”

Fox and Lindgren first played together as 16-year-olds with the United States Team Development Program in the 2014-15 season. They climbed the ladder the following season playing for both the USNTDP Juniors and U.S. National U-18 team.

Though the defensemen went their separate ways for the 2016-17 season when Fox was a freshman at Harvard and Lindgren began his collegiate career at the University of Minnesota, they reconnected to play together for the United States at the 2017 and 2018 World Junior Championships.

They helped the U.S. win the gold medal in 2017 and the bronze the following year.

Since 2018-19, Lindgren and Fox have been defense partners in the NHL with the Rangers, the natural top pairing with the offensive-minded Fox free to do his thing partnered with the stay-at-home Lindgren. Fox won the Norris Trophy as top NHL defenseman in 2020-21 and has 308 points (53 goals, 255 assists) in 357 regular-season games. Lindgren is a plus-99 in 333 NHL games, including a Rangers-best plus-22 last season.

“Ryan has said he wants to be in New York. I’m sure he wants to stay with Adam Fox. He’s got a great gig on the left side of the Norris Trophy-winning defenseman,” Walker said.

WATCH: Complete interview with Mollie Walker on Forever Blueshirts YouTube channel

Re-signing Ryan Lindgren is ‘priority’ for Rangers this offseason, Mollie Walker says

NHL: Washington Capitals at New York Rangers
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Walker is right. Lindgren does have a great gig playing alongside Fox. And Fox has it pretty good himself partnering with the reliable Lindgren. And their history, trust and friendship is invaluable, extending beyond the rink and their personal lives, where Lindgren was in Fox’s wedding party this past weekend.

But Drury has shown a cold-blooded business side this offseason. So, despite Walker’s warnings about Fox, the Rangers GM could go hard line with Lindgren, not concerned about ruffling feathers.

Drury has already upset the apple cart this offseason by trying to trade captain Jacob Trouba, only to be outmaneuvered apparently by the defenseman’s agent. And he had no qualms about waiving Barclay Goodrow so that the San Jose Sharks could claim him and his $3.6 million annual salary to gain precious cap space.

Lindgren filed for salary arbitration, which will take place on a yet-to-be-specified date later this month or in early August. That sets a deadline for the sides to work out a deal. Though it’d appear the Rangers want to avoid arbitration since a one-year deal there would walk Lindgren into UFA status at the end of the 2024-25 season, Walker disagrees.

“I honestly think that might be the easiest path. Deal with it next season when you have a better idea of the other contracts you’re going to be handing out,” Walker said.

It’s a chicken and egg situation. Sign Lindgren to a multi-year deal now and get cost certainty before tackling those other major contracts or get all or some of those other deals done first and then worry about Lindgren.

Arguments can be made for each side.

But you can bet where Fox stands on the debate. And let’s see how the opinion and/or feelings of New York’s $9.5 million per year star matters to Drury and Co.

Jim Cerny is Executive Editor at Forever Blueshirts and Managing Editor at Sportsnaut, with more than 30 years of... More about Jim Cerny

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