Adam Fox is a lot of things. Already a special player that in my mind has become the most important Ranger in just two years time, the 23-year old was recognized for his outstanding second season on Tuesday. The brilliant defenseman became only the fourth Ranger to win the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenseman.
It’s quite an honor for a young player, who becomes only the second Norris winner to capture the prestigious award in their second year. He joined exclusive company alongside the greatest defenseman ever in Bobby Orr. A legendary player considered by many older generation fans to be the best player of all-time. Of course, that would be a great bar debate with Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe joining the conversation. It all depends on your preference.
It’s a pretty cool achievement for Fox. Following a terrific rookie season in which he posted 42 points in 70 games to finish fourth for the Calder Trophy, the poised former Harvard University standout who the Rangers wisely traded a pair of second round picks to Carolina for, finished second among defensemen in scoring with 47 points (5-42-47) in 55 games. That included 22 even strength points, 23 power play points and two shorthanded points. In averaging 24:42 of ice time per game, Fox was trusted by former Rangers coach David Quinn in every situation. Whether it was matching him and cohesive partner Ryan Lindgren at even strength or having him play power play or penalty kill, Fox excelled in all situations. He also finished a plus-19 with just 14 penalty minutes.
The smart skating right defenseman wasn’t just an offensive threat due to his great vision. But he sacrificed for the Rangers by blocking 102 shots. He also was plus-two with 38 takeaways and 36 giveaways. A good indicator of what kind of player he is.
In two seasons, Fox has tallied 89 points (13-76-89) and a plus-41 rating in 125 games. The Jericho native can turn restricted the following summer. If the organization is smart, Team President and GM Chris Drury will lock up Fox this summer to a long-term extension. They can save money and buy up free agent years. Something that makes sense with a special player of Fox’s talent.
In winning the Norris, Fox is the first Blueshirt to win the award as the league’s top defenseman since two-time winner Brian Leetch. Leetch won it in ’92 and ’97. Fox joins Leetch, Harry Howell and Doug Harvey as the only New York Rangers to ever win the Norris. Quite an exclusive group consisting of Hall of Famers. Might Fox one day be so lucky to join them? Let’s not go crazy. Let’s enjoy Adam Fox for what he is. A very mature player who will continue to have a bright future. He will be a huge building block along with a unique young core that features Ryan Lindgren, Alexis Lafreniere, Kaapo Kakko, K’Andre Miller, Igor Shesterkin, Vitali Kravtsov, Zac Jones and Nils Lundkvist. The latter three still looking to establish themselves.
It’s an exciting time for the Rangers. They certainly didn’t waste any time congratulating Fox by having proud teammates record personal messages via the official team Twitter account. That also included former teammate Tony DeAngelo, who took to his Instagram and posted a nice congratulatory post in his story wishing Fox the best. Contrary to popular belief falsely spread by toxic blogs who don’t care about integrity, DeAngelo has remained supportive of his former teammates. Good job by him.
The best aspect is they got the vote right. Fox won pretty easily by beating out Cale Makar and Victor Hedman. Rounding out the top five were Dougie Hamilton and Charlie McAvoy. Islanders duo Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock each received a vote.
I hope we get to hear from Foxy Clean this week on winning the award. It’s well deserved. Congratulations go out to Fox on a great season. It’s wonderful to see him get recognized. He sure earned it.
As for the other big awards, Marc-Andre Fleury won his first ever Vezina by edging out Andrei Vasilevskiy for the top goalie. It was a close vote, but Fleury justifiably took home the hardware in the first time he’s ever been nominated. Philipp Grubauer finished a distant third.
Not surprisingly, Connor McDavid was a unanimous winner for the Hart Trophy by receiving all 100 votes. He also swept the Lester Pearson. Ted Lindsay Award. Behind McDavid for league MVP were Auston Matthews and Nathan MacKinnon. Sidney Crosby finished fourth with Brad Marchand fifth.
Similarly, it was no surprise that Kirill Kaprizov won the Calder by a unanimous vote. Jason Robertson finished runner-up and Alex Nedeljkovic was a distant third. In case you’re curious, Shesterkin got fourth. The All-Rookie Team consisted of Kaprizov, Robertson, Josh Norris, Ty Smith and K’Andre Miller. Nice to see Miller make it on the blue line with Devil Smith. Nedeljkovic rounded out the list in net.
The First All-Star Team saw Adam Fox join Cale Makar on defense with Connor McDavid, Brad Marchand and Mitch Marner up front. Andrei Vasilevskiy got the nod in net. The Second All-Star Team consisted of Victor Hedman with Dougie Hamilton on defense while Auston Matthews, Mikko Rantanen and Jonathan Huberdeau were up front with Marc-Andre Fleury in net. So, Fox also got recognized as a First All-Star. Awesome!
RANGERS NORRIS WINNERS
Doug Harvey ’61-62 6-24-30
Harry Howell ’66-67 12-28-40
Brian Leetch (1) ’91-92 22-80-102*
Brian Leetch (2) ’96-97 20-58-78
Adam Fox ’20-21 5-42-47
*Last defenseman to top 100 points and win Norris