Earlier today, the Rangers acquired the rights to Adam Fox. The 21-year old defenseman who was up for the Hobey Baker following his junior year with Harvard, can either sign an entry level contract this summer or return for his senior year with the Crimson.
The cost was steep. Rangers GM Jeff Gorton coughed up a 2019 second round pick along with a conditional third in the deal with the Hurricanes. Carolina is currently focused on the second round of the NHL Playoffs. They followed up a 1-0 overtime win in Game One by scoring twice in a 48-second span early in the third period to stun the Islanders 2-1 on Sunday to take a two games to none lead in the Metropolitan Division Final. Game Three is tomorrow night in Raleigh.
With a slew of draft picks, Gorton decided not to wait on Fox, who could’ve played out his senior year and become an unrestricted free agent the following summer. Instead, a young defense prospect the Rangers coveted since he was included in a trade with Calgary last year could sign with the area local he was reportedly interested in.
A Jericho, New York native, Fox represented Team USA twice at the Under 20 World Junior Championship in 2017 and 2018. In 33 games during his junior season for Harvard, he posted nine goals with 39 assists totaling 48 points that paced the Crimson. Originally a Calgary third round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft taken 66th, the right defenseman is already with his third organization before having played a NHL game.
A good skating offensive defenseman, the 5-10, 185 pound Fox could become a fixture on the power play. That’s assuming he signs as TSN insider Bob McKenzie is reporting. If he foregoes his senior year, Fox immediately becomes part of the conversation.
The current status of the right side of the Rangers defense includes veteran Kevin Shattenkirk, restricted free agents Tony DeAngelo and Neal Pionk. Of the three, DeAngelo is the one with the most upside. In a career high 61 games, he posted four goals with a career best 26 assists, 30 points and 77 penalty minutes. The 23-year old, who was acquired from the Coyotes with Lias Andersson (2017 seventh overall pick) for Derek Stepan and Antti Raanta, established himself as a top four defenseman under new coach David Quinn. It’ll be interesting to see if they bridge him.
Shattenkirk has two years remaining on a contract that pays him an AAV of $6.65 million. The 30-year old veteran has to be better than the 28 points (2-26-28) he put up in Year Two as a Blueshirt. Expected to be their power play quarterback, injuries and inconsistency have prevented Shattenkirk from being that player.
As for Pionk, most of his six goals and 26 points came before the new calendar year where his play regressed due in part to an injury. If Fox signs on the dotted line, Pionk likely becomes an extra D who could be the odd man out. Especially with Libor Hajek and Ryan Lindgren possibly part of the NHL roster. Don’t forget K’Andre Miller, who’s likely to sign next year following his sophomore year at Wisconsin.
While adding Fox is a good move, the Rangers could’ve waited for him to become totally unrestricted in 2020. Instead, the total cost could be a pair if second round picks. If he plays at least 30 NHL games in ’19-20, then the conditional third becomes a second in 2020. A nice return for Carolina considering he was never signing.
The Rangers just became more interesting. They already were when they won the Draft Lottery by moving from number six to picking second behind the Devils, who must decide between highly rated Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko. Whoever they don’t select will be a nice consolation prize for the Blueshirts.
With Russian prospects Vitali Kravtsov and Igor Shestyorkin signed, training camp will be one for Ranger fans to follow closely. There should be plenty of excitement.