It’s no secret that the Calgary Flames seem to be relying on the U.S. college system as a development mechanism, frequently selecting college-bound players from the United States Hockey League and the high school system in recent drafts.
The Flames’ 2016 third round selection Adam Fox (most recently of the U.S. National Development Program) is the latest draftee headed to the NCAA, as he’s headed to the hallowed halls of Harvard in the fall. We caught up with Fox at development camp.
Fox attended the draft in Buffalo and was pleased with how the weekend turned out.
“I think I was going there just hoping to go to a team that really wanted me and was a good fit for me,” said Fox. “I’m happy I ended up with Calgary, it’s a great place and a great spot to develop. It was definitely a unique experience for me and my family being there and experiencing the whole thing. It was definitely a great time and a great time for my family.”
He’s admittedly not overly familiar with the Flames organization or the city of Calgary, but was eager to use development camp to get his bearings on the team and the city, and attempt to make a good first impression.
“I’m not sure about all the D prospects,” said Fox. “I’m meeting some here. I’m sure they’re all great players. Just definitely trying to show what I can do and show that I can play here, and hopefully be a Calgary Flame sooner than later.”
One of a dozen U.S. National Development Program players drafted in 2016, Fox is a right-handed shot who set the single-season defensive scoring record for the program. Considering some of the players that have gone through that system, that’s a big feat. But despite his own successes, Fox remains focused on his team’s success.
“Obviously individually you want to play well, but hockey’s a team sport,” said Fox. “You want to win the games and I think overall we won a lot of games this year and it was good for us playing against the colleges and internationally we did well. So I think as a team we did pretty well. Obviously our goal going in is to win the U18 World, it’s kind of what we train for and to come up short in that was definitely a bummer. Coming away with bronze was nice, come back with a medal we definitely wanted gold, but overall I think individually it was a good year for me, I really enjoyed it, but as a team I think we did well and all improved.”
The second Flames pick in recent memory to head to Harvard and the first since Ted Drury, the 5’10”, 180 pound blueliner seems keenly aware of the challenge ahead of him – hockey wise and academically – but also seems to have some clear goals for himself in the collegiate system.
“I think for me developing and getting stronger,” said Fox. “I think I’m a guy that can definitely add muscle and add some strength and work on that. So I think going to college and spending that time in the weight room is definitely good for me.”
As we saw with Johnny Gaudreau and Mark Jankowski, and are presently seeing with Brandon Hickey, collegiate prospects are often asked how long they’re going to stay in college. Despite the rarity of his situation, the Justin Schultz saga probably is prominent in many fans’ heads when it comes to good college prospects. Fox isn’t saying how long he’s going to be at Harvard, but he knows what he wants out of the experience.
“I think it’s definitely a situational thing, I think, in terms of how my development goes,” said Fox. “I think I’m a guy that can definitely take some time to fill out my body and develop it physically. I don’t think it’s something I’ve thought too far ahead of how many years I’m going to be there, but like I said, I want to be a Calgary Flame sooner than later so obviously just going to put that work in and hopefully play as soon as I can.”
For the curious, Fox’s Harvard team will play Hickey’s Boston University squad at least once in the 2016-17 season – Harvard’s Nov. 22 trip to BU’s campus could also be followed by a meeting in the annual Beanpot. Fox is somewhat of a mirror image of Hickey; Fox is a right-shooting, offensively-minded, smooth-skating player, while Hickey is a left-shot, excels at defensive positioning and is also a superb skater. It’s likely that Flames brass hopes that Fox’s progression can also mimic Hickey’s.
With the Flames’ current depth on the blueline, and Hickey likely a bit ahead of Fox developmentally, the club can afford to be patient with the Harvard freshman’s development.