Adam Fox now in the spotlight for Rangers

Adam Fox (NHL.com)

The official buyout of veteran defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk following a great deal of confusion surrounding the Rangers buyout window will have a significant impact on the organization in 2019-2020 and for years to come. The buyout will affect the Rangers in a variety of different ways both on and off the ice and maybe most notably in regards to the Rangers salary-cap situation for the next 4 seasons.

Now, while the buyout of Shattenkirk is unfortunate due to the salary-cap-complications the Rangers will experience next summer (around 7.5M in dead cap space), it’s more unfortunate when putting the buyout in context with how “Shatty” landed in New York.

Farewell Shattenkirk

Shattenkirk was born and raised in New Rochelle, New York, a suburb about 20 miles outside of New York City. After establishing himself as a power-play specialist and dynamic offensive defenseman in St. Louis, Shattenkirk was shipped to the Nation’s capital at the 2017 NHL trade deadline. After failing to make a substantial impact with the Capitals, Shattenkirk was set to hit the open market as the prize of the 2017 free agent class.

Following the Blueshirts signing of Shattenkirk on July 1st, 2017, reports began to surface that “Shatty” left both money and term on the table in order to fulfill a childhood dream and play for the Rangers to the tune of a reasonable 4X26.65M contract. For a player that dreamed of playing for the Blueshirts his entire life, it surely is disappointing to see him bought out after just 2 seasons in the Big Apple in which the Rangers entered a full rebuild during Year #1 of Shattenkirk’s tenure.

However, following the acquisitions of two righty-shooting defenseman in Jacob Trouba and Adam Fox coupled with the emergence of youngster Tony DeAngelo, it became clear to John Davidson, Jeff Gorton, and Rangers management that there was no longer a role for Shattenkirk in New York.

Interestingly enough, it appears that the heir to Shattenkirk on Broadway is a young man that, similar to “Shatty,” grew up rooting for the Rangers and only wanted to play in New York: Adam Fox.

Who is Adam Fox

Adam Fox was born on February 17th, 1998 and was raised in Jericho, New York. The 5’11 defenseman, who grew up a passionate Ranger fan, was selected by the Calgary Flames with the 66th overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft in Buffalo. After being drafted by the Flames, Fox began playing for Harvard and enjoyed a stellar freshman season for the Crimson as he tallied 6 goals and 34 assists in 35 games.

The American-born blueliner followed up his astounding freshman campaign by recording 28 points in 29 games in his 2nd season at Harvard. After the Flames failed to sign Fox to an entry-level-contract, he was shipped to the Carolina Hurricanes as a minor piece of the Dougie Hamilton/Elias Lindholm blockbuster in the summer of 2018.

The Canes encountered the same issue with Fox that the Flames experienced; he wasn’t willing to sign an ELC with the organization and instead chose to return to Harvard for another season. Fox’s junior campaign in Cambridge was his most impressive to date and likely his last season playing hockey at the collegiate level, as he recorded 48 points in 33 games. As the 2018-2019 season progressed, the chatter around Fox’s name increased as it was revealed that he had no intention of signing for Carolina because he instead wanted to play for his boyhood team, the New York Rangers. Fox was traded to the Rangers on April 30th, 2019 and signed his first professional contract just a few days later.

Adam Fox (NHL.com)

What Fox Brings

In regards to what Fox will bring to the Blueshirts lineup in 2019-2020 and beyond, Ranger fans should expect a smooth-skating, offensively gifted, and highly motivated blueliner that will likely find himself quarterbacking one of the Rangers power-play units this season. Fox is a world-class skater that has the ability to lead the rush with his crafty hockey sense and dynamic passing ability. Fox is at his best when he has the puck on his stick, as his high hockey IQ and creativity allow him to make nifty passing plays in the offensive zone, especially with the man advantage.

In my opinion, Fox (5’11, 181 lbs) draws comparisons with star defenseman Torey Krug of the Boston Bruins (5’9, 185 lbs). These players are not just similar in height and weight, but also play a similar style of fast-paced hockey predicated on quick puck movement. I believe that the reason that Fox fell to the 3rd round in his draft year was because teams were unsure about his size, likely the same reason that the 5’9 Krug was undrafted earlier this decade. However, following Krug’s 3rd consecutive 50-point campaign in Boston, it’s evident that size is not as much of a determining factor in whether or not a player will succeed in the NHL.

It’s unclear if Fox will evolve into the player that Krug is today: a power-play dynamo teetering on the edge of “superstar” status. But the Rangers appear to have a good one on their hands.

Fox’s Impact

While I believe that Fox will have a positive impact on Broadway in 2019-2020, it’s important to preach patience in regards to the youngster and his development, specifically in the defensive zone. Defenseman often need more time than forwards or goaltenders in acclimating to the NHL and it’s important to remember that Fox has yet to play a single game of professional hockey in his career. He will likely struggle at times in his own end while dazzling at the other end of the rink. I believe that Fox will find himself on the 2nd or 3rd defensive pair in 2019-2020, as he may partner with stay-at-home defenseman Marc Staal.

The buyout of Shattenkirk indicates that the Rangers believe that Fox is ready for NHL action in 2019-2020, as there is now a role in the Rangers lineup that the organization believes the youngster can fill not only next season, but hopefully for the next decade.