A look into what Adam Fox’s immediate role could be for the Rangers

When the Rangers traded for Adam Fox this offseason for what will most likely be a pair of 2nd round picks, it was a signal to the rest of the league, and to the fans, that the Rangers were going to make moves to accelerate this rebuild. The Rangers were going to get Fox next offseason for nothing, but they decided that the pair of picks headed to Carolina was worth the price to have him now.

The expectation is that Fox is going to be in the opening night lineup. With Jacob Trouba entrenched as the 1RD and PP1 QB, Fox is penciled into the 2RD spot right now, with possible powerplay usage. I say that only because DeAngelo isn’t signed yet. If he does sign before camp, then I can see Fox being the 3RD to start the season, letting him get used to the NHL life before giving him more important minutes.

With that in mind, the Rangers are likely going to move Fox into a top-four role sooner rather than later. Fox is viewed as a more defensively reliable DeAngelo, although that remains to be seen at the NHL level. That’s also very high praise, since DeAngelo is one of the best transition defensemen in the game (he struggles mightily in his own end, though). All this is speculation, as both need to come to camp and perform. If there’s one thing we know, it’s that David Quinn is looking for a very specific type of work effort. DeAngelo got that message already. Fox may need to learn it the hard way.

Let’s also draw an immediate line in the sand. Fox’s immediate impact is not going to be on the same level as Kaapo Kakko. Fox is very skilled and one of the top prospects in the system, but he’s not at the same skill level as Kakko.

The Blueshirts have a history of bringing their rookies along slowly. Filip Chytil is a good example here. He was a very skilled, but very raw rookie last season. He spent the majority of his ice time on the bottom-six, with limited ice time in a sheltered role. He received very little powerplay time early on, eventually earning his way onto the man advantage unit later in the season. The Rangers have done this with multiple rookies, and it is part of the expected growth process.

It is likely that Quinn will use this approach for Fox –if he makes the team out of camp– to help ease him into the NHL rigors. It’s clear they made a mistake with Brett Howden, riding his hot streak to start the season into the ground when he wasn’t ready. Fox won’t get that treatment.

Assuming DeAngelo comes to camp, Fox is most likely going to be on the third pairing to start the season, getting mostly even strength minutes. Eventually, should he play well, DQ will most likely move him into a top-four role with more special teams work. But I’d expect him to be eased into the lineup. Fox has 40-50 point potential, but I don’t think we see that immediately either. There’s nothing wrong with a growth year. Despite the skill infusion, a growth/rebuilding year is on the horizon for the Rangers, whether we want to admit it or not.

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  • IMO, the NYR will give Fox time to learn and progress, probably start him on the 3rd line, getting limited minutes. He may get some time on the 2nd PP, but probably limited PK time. He is the kind of player that needs to learn the NHL system and get confident so that he will remain for years to come. It will also take time to find the right partner for him.

    • The Rangers rookies will obviously need time to adjust to life in the NHL and the hard charging life that an NHL player lives with on the road.
      The 2nd year guys like Chytil, Andersson, and the aforementioned Howden should be a little more comfortable coming in. Until they realize the pressure is on to improve on last season.
      The whole team is going to have a “getting to know you” period with all the new guys and all the guys that aren’t here anymore. I have

      • Agreed. Plus I would not call this an “accelerated” rebuild (FA signing) – it’s a rebuild. You don’t fully know what you got till you put the product on the ice. I love the pieces they’re putting together and apparently that is acknowledged by the rest of the NHL community. Can’t wait to see what we got – love the work of the other defensemen not in camp (Miller with Wisconsin and Lundqvist with Lulea) thus far. Really exciting to see and looking forward to Traverse City…

        • It’s great to see the new additions, and to a certain extent the deletions. The name of the game is chemistry, and let’s all hope that this collection of players develops that, along with friendships. Nothing worse than a bad apple in the locker room, Kessel anyone???????

  • I completely agree with your assessment here. I believe Fox will start with the big team, but Fox could start in Hartford which would be fine too. He will be on the big team soon enough if that happens. I also think his role will depend on ADA to some extent. If ADA comes to camp, makes the team and plays great it will make it tough for Quinn to move Fox up. Good problem to have.

  • From what I saw of him in Kosice, Fox is going to tear up Traverse City and slot into 2nd pair- PP2 whether ADA is in camp or not.

    The only potential problem is Lindy Ruff & his system.

  • I want to question the notion that Fox was going to be a Ranger no matter what. Many years ago, the Oakland A’s had a slugger named Mark McGwire in the final year of his contract. He was going to finish his contract and sign the following season with the Angels. Everyone knew that. he wanted to go to Southern California. So the A’s traded McGwire at the deadline. Not to the Angels of course – they were not going to pay for a player they would get for free. So he went to the Cardinals, where he finished the season and his career.

    We may have had a good idea (or not) how Adam Fox was thinking now. But he is young and a year is a long time. We don’t know what he actually would have done in 2020. The Rangers didn’t just get an extra year with the Fox trade. They got certainty — and I suspect that was more important to them than getting him early.

    • The Rangers overpaid period. You can’t compare McGwire’s situation to this, Fox wasn’t offering his services to the highest bidder. Money wasn’t the issue here. It was clear where he wanted to to go and Gorton paying a price that, IMO, was exorbitant was foolish. Carolina probably couldn’t contain their happiness over this as was evidenced by their fans going gaga over this return.

      That being said it was probably more of a goodwill gesture to Fox in showing the Ranger’s appreciation that such a talented player wanted to come here so Gorton paid a price to get him here immediately. Gorton avoided the haggling that could have potentially upset Fox.

  • I think the pairings will play a major role here – and it may be that the difference between second pair on third pair is based on the guy on the left, not the guy on the right.

    Consider: Most of us expect I think that the Rangers will go with Skjei, Staal, Smith, Hajek on the left. We think Skjei will be paired with Trouba, that Staal and Hajek will play and Smith will be #7. In that scenario, the bottom two pairs will either be Staal-DeAngelo, Hajek-Fox OR Staal-Fox, Hajek-DeAngelo. One needs to set the pairs and pick which pair is 2nd, which is 3rd.

    Personally, I think it would be wrong to simply choose the best LD and best RD for the second pair. I think the pairs should be decided by how well the players fit together. Conceptually, who do you pair with Hajek? Do you want a pair with a combined five games NHL experience? Or is it a mistake to pair Hajek with DeAngelo when you are concerned about the discipline of ADA’s game. I expect some trial and error. We may even see some Hajek-Trouba to give ADA and Fox a chance to play with Skjei.

  • How about we don’t pull a Manny Malhotra and we see how the kid plays in camp and then decide.
    Let’s not rush the kid.

  • Top pair over Trouba, regardless of contract.
    #1 PP QB.
    55 pts.
    Norris Trophy.
    Calder Trophy.
    Stanley Cup.
    Conn Smythe Trophy winner.

    All on an ELC and first full year in the league.

  • At 5’10” 185. I don’t see him playing next year till late in the season on the nhl roster. He hasn’t played an nhl game yet. And you have him penciled into the 2d spot

      • This is true. He didn’t look out of place at all in the IIHF World Championship. I’m sure that someone will say that it was only a small sample, though.

        • Style of play doesn’t change in a small sample size, production does.

          Especially for D not on top pair.

    • I think that (Fox in the second spot) is more a reflection of how bad the Rangers’ defense was last year than anything else. You could be absolutely correct, but that would count on someone who was on the team last year really stepping up their game.

      • But, he WILL play in Hartford if he doesn’t live up to his potential. Don’t get me wrong, I think he’s an extremely talented young defenseman who probably will play in New York right away, but I’ve seen more than one player who seemed to have all the talent in the world who never managed to make it onto an NHL roster on a regular basis. No matter what skills he possesses, unless he’s got the right mind set, and dedication, he won’t be able to cut it at this level.

        • Unless Fox totally bombs, which he won’t, he will be here for the duration of the season. IMO.

  • I am optimistic that Fox will make the team out of camp, but it would not be a shock if a young defenseman needed a little time to learn some things in the AHL. However, I am laying odds that he makes the squad. If so, a right side D of Trouba, Fox and DeAngelo sounds pretty cool to me. Tony needs to get his butt into camp from the start.

    So on the left it will be Skjei and Staal (yeah I expect him to be the regular there) and then the last left side spot is up for grabs. It would make sense that Smith gets 7D because he can play both sides and forward too. I’d rather not see a rookie defender as 7D because it would be better for a kid to be learning in Hartford instead, but it is possible that Quinn does that too.

    Altogether, after a few weeks of play I expect the team to be much better defensively once they jell.

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