Implications of Adam Fox joining the Rangers blue line

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On Tuesday, the New York Rangers acquired the rights to Adam Fox from the Carolina Hurricanes. Fox, who just finished his junior year at Harvard, is 21 years old and will qualify for a three-year entry level contract. But what will the addition of Fox mean for the Rangers blue line?

In an interview following the trade, Jeff Gorton (GM) was pretty clear on his intentions: “We think Adam is ready to play now. People talk about a year from now, but a lot can happen in a year, or 16 months. That comes with a lot of ‘if’s.’ So for me, it was easy. We wanted him here and we didn’t want to wait. We want to get moving.” That level of confidence in a prospect is rare for the Rangers, and fans need to realize this isn’t a prospect on the level of Jimmy Vesey or Neal Pionk. While those two were good college hockey players, Adam Fox obliterated records at the same level. Adam Fox is a lot closer to Cale Makar and Quinn Hughes, who both made the leap to the NHL near the end of the season and have made their teams better for it. That’s the type of impact Rangers management expects from Adam Fox.

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The Rangers currently have Kevin Shattenkirk, Marc Staal and Brendan Smith signed until 2021 with a combined cap-hit of $17.6 million and varying clauses. Neal Pionk and Anthony DeAngelo are both restricted free agents. Fox’s arrival could mean the Rangers move on from Shattenkirk who, unlike some fans may think, still has value on the trade market. The Rangers can retain a maximum of 50% of his contract, which would result in a $3,325,000 cap-hit with just $2,800,000 in actual money for the next two seasons.

Another potential casualty is Brendan Smith, who has a $4,350,000 cap hit without salary retention. Unlike Shattenkirk, the return on the trade market will be lower for Smith, with the Toronto Maple Leafs seeming to be a potential trade partner for either player. They need to replace Jake Gardiner and Ron Hainsey, while not committing to too much money with Marner, Kapanen and Jonsson all restricted free agents this off-season. The condition in the trade for Fox indicates both parties are expecting Fox to make the team out of camp next year. The third round pick in 2020 will become a second round pick if Fox plays in 30 NHL games in the 2019-20 season.

The third possibility is that the Rangers move on from either DeAngelo or Pionk in a trade this off-season. Both young defensemen are restricted free agents this summer and with Fox entering the mix they could fetch a nice return for one of maybe even both.

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Adam Fox is a New York native, born in Jericho, NY, and played Bantam hockey for the Long Island Gulls. He has been linked with the New York Rangers for quite some time and the news yesterday should not come as a surprise to anyone. Fox played for the USNTDP between 2014 and 2016, before committing to Harvard University, where the 2016 third round pick (66th overall) recorded 40 points, 22 more than any other defenseman 18 years old or younger. The 40 points were the most by a U19 defenseman in NCAA Div 1 hockey since 1987.

Next season just got a lot more exciting for Rangers fans with the addition of Adam Fox.