Over the course of the past week the NHL has begun announcing the finalist for the 2019-20 NHL awards. Among the finalist were some old friends (John Tortorella and Alain Vigenault) for the Jack Adams Trophy, and our favorite Russian Rockette, Artemi Panarin for the Ted Lindsay Award. But a notable Ranger blue liner seemed to be missing from the nominations. First year standout Adam Fox was not named one of the three finalists for the Calder Trophy given to the NHL’s top rookie, a perceived snub.
Despite his exceptional freshman campaign, Fox did not seem to get the mainstream attention as fellow defensemen Cale Makar and Quinn Hughes, or as much as Chicago’s sniper Dominik Kubalik. All three were fantastic this season and deserve some praise, but were they better than Fox? It is certainly worth the discussion.
As the assistant coach of a college team (and the guy who runs the defensemen) I love showing clips of NHL D-men in the film room. And in the offensive zone, Makar and Hughes are a coaches dream. But when it came to both sides of the ice I showed the most clips of Fox. Playing on such a poor defensive team, he stood out very early to me as a guy whose ability to break up a play, make a breakout pass, and add to the rush. By the end of October he became my favorite Ranger to watch and take notes on. Here are 3 of the clips I showed this past season (all in one video).
- Clip 1: Fox faces a 3 on 1, stays on his feet, breaks up the pass, and head mans the puck the other way.
- Clip 2: Fox starts the play below goal line supporting the puck. As puck is moved up ice, he reads the play and jumps up to add to the rush, creating an odd man chance. He supports the puck on both ends of the ice and he is not “The Rush” but he “Adds to the Rush” and puts himself in perfect position to get his first NHL goal.
- Clip 3: Absorbs a hit and maintains puck possession. He gets up and does not panic. He then head checks to see where the forechecker is and moves the puck to his partner who head mans the puck. The Rangers keep puck possession and move up the ice on a rush.
In addition to video, there’s the data. JFresh Hockey on Twitter did a fantastic write up on who should win the Calder based on their advanced metrics. The three finalist made his top five, but at number one was (yes you guessed it) Adam Fox.
Adam Fox is already among the league's best two-way defencemen; an elite driver of offence, transition player, passer, and zone entry defender. He didn't start in a top four role like Hughes and Makar did, but he earned it as the season went on. #PlayLikeANewYorker pic.twitter.com/LC6C1uzdlD
— JFresh (@JFreshHockey) July 15, 2020
According to JFresh, Fox is already one of the NHL’s top two-way defensemen. His data, which adjust for quality of teammates, has Fox with a higher expected goals for and expected then any of the other nominees. He also had better shot suppression metrics (all at even strength). That said, Fox certainly is not as sexy of a player as Hughes or Makar, but his Harvard mind is as elite as they come.
It’s not just that review either, most of the other notable and trusted stat names have Fox at the top of their Calder list.
Rob's statement here is true, I'm just going to add some context.
1) Fox saw mostly 2nd pair TOI until the last 10-15 GP.
2) When NYR fell into a better lineup (mostly via injuries) at Game 30, Fox turned a corner and really began to excel.https://t.co/2CNgnu557R pic.twitter.com/TwI1uYbE1n
Not that anybody lets me vote, but my Calder sympathies lie with Adam Fox. pic.twitter.com/BBkYNQVzUx
— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) June 8, 2020
These are just some of the folks that noted Adam Fox was a snub in the Calder voting, and will be one of the premier two-way defensemen in the league for years to come. TIt’s expected since Fox isn’t the sexy pick and didn’t get the PR. Either way, the Rangers gave up just a pair of second round picks for Fox, which is already shaping up to be a steal of a trade.