Rangers Adam Fox winning the Norris Trophy now faces a bigger challenge

steven McDonald extra effort
Apr 29, 2021; New York, New York, USA; The Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award is presented to Adam Fox #23 of the New York Rangers prior to the game against the New York Islanders at Madison Square Garden on April 29, 2021 in New York City. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Bennett/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

Adam Fox continues to lead the league in scoring by a defenseman with a handful of games to go. His 47 points in just 50 games is three better than Victor Hedman and five better than John Carlson who are considered favorites to win it.

If that wasn’t enough, Fox’s plus/minus rating is at +21. A quick glance at the NHL stats shows Hedman only at a +7 and Carlson is a -6. For many, plus/minus has become an inconsequential stat but Fox’s underlying advanced stats also make him a better choice than the two just mentioned. Categories like goals for percentage and expected goals share with him on the ice makes him the clear cut winner.

The Norris Trophy and the NHL playoffs

Winning the Norris Trophy would be special for the Ranger 23 year-old defender. If he were to do so, he would be just the second defenseman to win it in his sophomore season with the great Bobby Orr being the only other one. However, if he were to win it Fox would be the first ever to do so without his team qualifying for the playoffs.

In researching all winners starting in 1953-54, no Norris winner ever missed the playoffs. Starting with the Red Wings Red Kelly, not a single one earned the honor without his team in postseason action. Some may quibble that last year’s winner, Roman Josi was the first but the Nashville Predators were part of the Return-To-Play format. Even though they lost in the qualifying round, all points scored in those games were categorized as playoff stats.

Adam Fox
Bruce Bennett/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

Adam Fox was always going to have a tough time convincing voters that he should win the Norris. Whether some want to admit it or not there’s a component of anti-New York sentiment out there. Him being only a second year player could be another factor, but Erik Karlsson won his first at the age of 21, albeit in his third season. P.K. Subban won one as a 23 year-old in his fourth season in the league.

Hopefully, this year’s voters will put whatever biases they have aside and vote for the kid from Jericho, L.I. The Rangers star blue-liner has been amazing to watch night in and night out. One player does not a team make. The Norris Trophy is an individual award, and there’s been no better individual defenseman than Adam Fox this season.

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Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore

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