Heading into last season, there were some concerns about an Adam Fox regression. The reigning Norris Trophy winner was entering his third season after putting up 5-42-47 and basically carrying the Rangers blue line the year before. The concerns turned out to be unfounded, as Fox took another step forward in his first full NHL season, putting up nearly a point per game.
Adam Fox regression? I think not
Most of the concerns about an Adam Fox regression were centered around Fox’s ability to play a full NHL season. His rookie and sophomore years were shortened by Covid, and he never played more than 35 games at Harvard. While that made sense on the surface, it didn’t really account for Fox playing 70 games in his rookie year. It seemed to be unfound worrying.
Fox’s 11-64-74 in 78 games showed any worries about regression were silly. What is amazing about that stat line is that Fox didn’t score a single powerplay goal. He had 33 powerplay assists, but no goals. So his even strength scoring line was 11-31-42, showing he’s not just a powerplay point collector.
What’s even more amazing, at least comparatively to the rest of the Rangers from last season, is that Fox’s possession metrics remained very good. There’s also an argument that Fox may have left even strength points on the table, given the GF/60 is below his xGF/60. Also, that powerplay production may step back a bit, but the skill level on that unit is so high that it may not.
*-I had some issues uploading the RAPM from Evolving-Hockey that I couldn’t fix quickly, hence the tweet.
It’s clear that any Adam Fox regression concerns should be thrown out the window, and he will be one of the best defensemen in the NHL for years to come.
So what’s next?
The conspiracy theorists think that Fox will eventually get the ‘C’ from Jacob Trouba at some point in the mid-term future. I think that’s certainly a possibility, but we honestly don’t know what Fox does in the locker room, or even if he wants it. Remember, Brian Leetch never really wanted the ‘C’ and many don’t remember his stint as Captain too fondly.
Something else to consider: Perhaps Fox is the best option to help groom some of the rookies on the blue line. Playing with Fox certainly helped Ryan Lindgren grow into his own as a viable NHL defender. With Braden Schneider, Nils Lundkvist, Zac Jones, and Matthew Robertson all in the system, Fox’s two way ability and calm demeanor on the ice can only help them along.
Fox will likely finish at a point per game in a season at some point in his career. Is a 100 point season doable? With this powerplay unit, quite possibly. It seems the sky is the limit for Fox.