The New Kid on Broadway
Adam Fox, growing up as a die-hard Rangers fan has seemingly found his calling here with the Blueshirts. As a youngster growing up in Jericho, NY, one would assume that Fox was an Islander fan but instead Fox decided to side with the better of the two organizations, and wow are we glad to have him.
Entering the league as the 66th overall selection in the 2016 NHL Draft, Adam Fox became a member of the Calgary Flames. Instead of signing his entry level contract with the Flames, Fox decided to play at Harvard University where he spent the next 3 years. During his time at Harvard, he was dealt to the Hurricanes and later the New York Rangers for a 2nd and 3rd round pick. This trade just might, if not already, prove itself to be one of Jeff Gorton's best trades apart from the Zibanejad trade.
Adam Fox, who scored 1.2 points per game in college, has continued his impressive play in his rookie year in the NHL. He ranked 1st in +/- rating with +22, 3rd in assists with 32, and 4th in points with 42 amongst all NHL rookies. His influence on the young and inexperienced blue line has proved to be extremely beneficial to the Rangers, shown by these numbers. However, there are a lot of plays along the boards and in front of the new that are not noted down and often overlooked.
Below are some of those plays that are not put down on the score sheet that show Fox's value to this Rangers team.
This play might seem like a very minute play, but there is a lot to take away from this seemingly insignificant stick lift. You see right before the video is paused, Fox instead of having his eyes glued to the puck, which is the downfall of a lot of defenseman, keeps his head on a swivel and checks where the opposing players are by taking a quick glance over his shoulder. Once he assesses the position of the forward, he keeps his focus on the play while also keeping in mind the player crashing the net. Then, instead of crosschecking the player from behind, he lifts his stick at the exact right time. If he lifted it too early, the player making the pass might see that and not get rid of the puck or the forward crashing the net would fight back for stick position. If he lifted it too late, the forward crashing the net would have already made contact with the puck, leading to a high percentage scoring chance, as he was well in the slot.
In this second clip we see that there is a turnover in the neutral zone. Fox was already heading up the ice because the Rangers were in possession of the puck, but once he saw the turnover he immediately reverses his direction and gets in position to support his d-partner for the d-to-d pass. If he did not transition back, Lindgren would have been stuck with the puck against the boards with no passing option, leading to a giveaway. Once Fox receives the puck, he sees that the St. Louis forward has his stick in the passing lane back to Lindgren. Fox makes a quick head fake towards the forward's stick, tricking the player into thinking he fell into his trap, and then immediately explodes in the other direction leaving himself space to skate the entirety of the neutral zone and start the rush.
In this third clip, you see a bit of Fox's defensive zone play. When your partner is fighting for a puck in the corner, it is imperative that you cover the net which Fox does very well here. Once he sees Lindgren come away with the puck, Fox again supports him by giving him a passing option behind the net. If Fox does not get into position behind the net, Lindgren is caught flat footed in his own zone with the puck ready to be stripped. Once Fox receives the pass, he doesn't automatically throw the puck up the boards in hopes of hitting one of his teammates. Instead he takes a couple of strides and forces the opposing team to retreat and gives himself enough time to make a clean pass to an open forward.
Fox has been playing extremely mature hockey for a rookie defenseman. He understands that in order to play offense he needs to first take care of his own end. He supports his players and makes high end plays in the defensive zone that allow his teammates to get up the ice quicker to attack. There are a number of videos that show Fox's great offensive ability as well, but the reason why Fox is so valuable is because he is not a traditional offensive defenseman that wants to get up the ice as quickly as possible so that he can showcase his offensive prowess. He takes his time and uses his poise to take care of the defensive zone first and then worries about scoring goals and assists, which he does so well.