The pressure is on for Adam Fox. The New York Rangers rookie defenseman has expectations aplenty on him after general manager Jeff Gorton acquired him in the off season to shore up the Rangers blue line. A local native who grew up in Jericho, the Harvard alum was originally drafted by the Calgary Flames in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft before having his NHL rights traded to the Carolina Hurricanes in June 2018. Gorton made his move for Fox on April 30 and traded a 2019 second-round pick and a 2020 conditional third-round pick for him. It was a development the low-key rookie welcomed, given how he’d rooted for the Broadway Blueshirts and Jaromir Jagr while growing up in the area.
“I was at my dorm at school when I found out I got traded to New York,” he recalled. “I got a call from my agent and he said I might be a New York Ranger. I was definitely excited.”
As someone who won a gold medal with Team USA while recording four points in seven games during the 2017 World Junior Hockey Championships and a 2019 Hobey Baker Award finalist, Fox came with impeccable credentials. Former NHL defenseman and current Rangers TV color analyst Joe Micheletti was working the Colorado Avalanche/San Jose Sharks playoff series for NBC last season when he learned about the Rangers’ newest acquisition. The first person he went to was then-Avalanche forward Alexander Kerfoot, who played with Fox at Harvard. Micheletti was pleasantly surprised by Kerfoot’s feedback.
“I asked about Adam and told [Kerfoot] I heard good things about him,” Micheletti said. “Right away he said, ‘The kid is a stud.’ The rumors were that they while there was no question about his offensive ability, people weren’t sure how good [Adam] was defensively. When I asked Kerfoot about him he said, ‘He’s so much better defensively than people think. He’s got a great stick and when he plays the game, he makes good defensive plays look easy, because he’s so smart.’”
Former Rangers captain and current Rangers color commentator Dave Maloney heard rumblings about Fox so he rang up brother Don, the current vice president of player development for the Flamesabout New York’s latest acquisition. The younger Maloney confirmed that the Rangers had gotten their hands on a gem.
“[Don] would be the first of many people I talked with who talked about how smart he was. And that has certainly come to fruition,” Maloney said. “A lot of times, this game is played like Sega Hockey. People are darting around. So the person who can snake his way through a situation is probably going to be a little bit better off. And he can certainly do that. My first observation is that he’s lived up to that aspect.”
In an interview with NYRangers.com, Gorton was equally effusive about what Fox brings to the Rangers.
“This is a player that not only did we watch for the (2016) draft and for the last couple years since the draft, but now he looks like a player who’s ready to come out and be a pro and push to make our team,” Gorton said. “The biggest thing is the skill. We’re trying, as we move this thing forward and rebuild the team, we’re looking at players that can make a difference, and this guy has high-end skill. He can really move a puck, his power-play ability is really good, he can run a power play and he has always played well in big games.”
Fox’s hockey journey has found him reaping success wherever he’s gone. While skating for the Harvard Crimson, he became the only defenseman in college hockey to average more than a point and a half per game, according to Mike Grinnell of the Spittin’ Chiclets Podcast. He also led Harvard to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in the past five years. The blueliner was equally effective on the international stage, where his World Juniors experience found him leading the team’s blue-line corps in assists and points as an alternate captain in 2018 when the United States captured bronze. It all added up for a pretty exhilarating experience for Fox.
“That was a lot of fun—beating Canada in Montreal and on a shootout no less [in 2017]. It was pretty thrilling,” he said.
Maloney sees a lot to like in a player with the potential to be a major factor on the backline for New York in the years to come.
“I think the real strengths are his ability to have the puck and not get hit or to sense when someone is coming physically while still maintaining possession of the puck,’ Maloney said. “In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. Adam doesn’t get hit very hard because he seems to have that real sense to pass the puck really well and he moves well enough. Amongst many skills the great players have is to pretty much know where everyone is and where everybody is going. So I wouldn’t say he’s there yet, but those are his strengths. It’s going to be his ability to have the sense of where he needs to be and how he needs to get there [that is going to help him succeed].”