One simple article on the NHL website was enough to set a ton of Rangers fans off.
With the 2021 NHL season more than half over, trophy-talk has begun once more, paving the path for many controversial selections. On March 17th, an NHL ‘Trophy Tracker’ article was posted, specifically focusing on the possible Norris Trophy candidates thus far.
Leading the pack was Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Behind him were Drew Doughty (LA Kings) and Jeff Petry (Montreal Canadiens). The list went on and on, with various defensemen receiving only a handful of votes.
Adam Fox was the most noticeable player omitted. He did not receive a single vote. Later that day, the Rangers pummeled the Philadelphia Flyers, 9-0, where Adam Fox registered an absurd 5 assists. This performance only furthered the conversation of whether or not Fox deserved to be a finalist, let alone considered. ‘
Fox has been outstanding. But is he Norris-caliber?
It almost feels like deja-vu.
Last year, Fox had an impressive rookie campaign, posting 8 goals and 34 assists for 42 points in just 70 games. He had a plus/minus of +22 and averaged nearly 19:00 minutes of playing time per night. He made the jump from the NCAA to NHL look easy, and emerged as a top defender on the Rangers before the season was suspended in March of 2020.
It seemed like a no-brainer that Fox would be a nominee for the Calder Trophy – yet, when the finalists were announced, he didn’t make the cut. Chicago Blackhawks forward Dominik Kubalik snagged the third spot, after Colorado’s Cale Maker – the eventual winner – and Vancouver’s Quinn Hughes were other unanimous finalists.
It was unfortunate, but safe to say, in a year without one of Makar or Hughes, Fox would’ve made the ballot (he came in 4th in voting, after all).
This year seems oddly similar. At the time of the article, Fox was sitting on 2 goals and 16 points in 27 games, quarterbacking the Rangers powerplay, and was putting up stellar numbers defensively. Which is impressive enough on its own.
Since that NHL.com article, Fox has registered 3 goals and 20 points in 10 games (including his steller 5-assist night against Philadelphia), was the NHL’s First Star of the week from March 22-28, averaged 25:29 minutes per night, has taken the league lead in assists by defensemen with 31, and is currently riding an 11-game point streak. He has also led all skaters – not just defensemen (!!) – in points.
It’s safe to safe that Adam Fox has been outstanding this year.
His defensive game also isn’t being talked about enough:
With Fox, the Blueshirts are a much sounder team defensively, as the figures above depict. Explained by Shayna Goldman of The Athletic: “With [Fox] on the ice, the Rangers are 23 percent stronger than league average defensively; without him, that drops by 20 percent.” Another thing worth noting; Fox has just 6 penalty minutes all season. Notable defensemen considered for the Norris Trophy by NHL.com have had more: Doughty has 18 minutes, and Hedman has 22.
Here’s a look at what Fox has brought to the table all around:
Adam Fox has been by far the best Rangers defensemen – there’s no questioning that. He has the ability to make an impact on all sides of the puck and in any situation, you put him in. But it’s time for the NHL, along with its fans to view Fox as the elite NHL defenseman he is.
(Oh, and he can also play goalie).