Larry Brooks is providing player evaluations daily in the NY Post, an exercise that began the past Monday. The order is by last name, and while he is not giving a grade, he is giving a sort of high-level assessment. Since it's my hope that we will have hockey, I thought it might be interesting to take one or a few aspects of his daily column along with his closure - the latter in italics - and provide my view, then receive yours in the comments. I will try and do this daily, and have covered Lias Andersson, Pavel Buchnevich, Filip Chytil, Tony DeAngelo and Jesper Fast. Today, it's Adam Fox.
How much more needs to be said after typing, “Adam Fox, the 22-year-old rookie out of Harvard, was the best Rangers defenseman this year?”
We can tell you about the Jericho, L.I., native’s uncanny poise and vision on the ice; about his ability to elude hits and move the puck out of trouble, about how he adapted and adjusted in different stages throughout the year as the league adjusted to him.
General manager Jeff Gorton acted decisively in acquiring Fox from the Hurricanes last April in exchange for a 2019 second-rounder and a 2020 third, which became a second rounder after he played 30 games this season, though the defenseman was on track to become a free agent this coming summer and all but assuredly would have signed with the Rangers
Fox was selected 66th overall in 2016 by Calgary in the draft in which the Blueshirts did not have a selection until 81st overall after having traded their first (for Keith Yandle) and second (for Eric Staal). The team used that third-round pick on defenseman Sean Day, who remains in the organization, but isn’t likely to make it to the Garden.
Nevertheless, the Rangers could have three defensemen from that 2016 draft in the lineup next season: Fox; Ryan Lindgren, selected 49th overall by the Bruins and acquired in the 2018 deadline deal for Rick Nash; and Libor Hajek, selected 37th overall by the Lightning and acquired that same day in the trade for Ryan McDonagh and J.T. Miller.
Not too bad.
Fox and Lindgren played together for the Team USA Under-18’s in 2016, they were intact as a pair for the Yanks in the both the 2017 and 2018 World Juniors, and they were essentially inseparable this season, logging 674:34 after Lindgren was summoned from the AHL Wolf Pack in late October.
Fox makes plays out of nothing. He turns it around quickly and precisely on transition. He’s got an active stick and he improved on his reads and coverage as the season progressed. He was on for 63 Rangers goals at five-on-five, second on the team to only Artemi Panarin, who was on for 75. And the Jericho native rang up his impressive offensive numbers despite being on the second power-play unit much of the season behind DeAngelo.
I think we all had a sense of just how good Fox could be offensively. What was in question was how well he would ply in his own zone. That proved not to be a problem at all. Frequently, we saw him find a way to come out of a scrum or the corner with the puck. The italics above spell out just how god Fox was this year.
The Fox and Lindgren are hopefully set up for long-term success, each of whom were acquired by Gorton. Right now, giving up a second last year and third (now second after the conditions were met) in this year's draft sure looks like a deal, despite the currency and value each selection has. For Fox, the next step will be for him to become a blueliner that can play in all situations, including the penalty kill, where he saw just 0:08 in shorthanded ice time this year.
I look for Fox to take another step forward next season, blossoming into a true first pair blueliner. If he is able to grow as we hope, the Rangers will be very well set up for the future. As Brooks noted, the acquisition for New York was crazy like a Fox.
MSG Employees will be paid through May 3:
For all the rightful criticism of James Dolan, which largely has been centered on his handling of the Knicks, as he is somewhat hands off on the Rangers, he gets major kudos here. Just think, we could have Jeremy Jacobs as an owner. (Update
: wishing a complete recovery to Dolan, who tested positive for Corona)