Appreciating Adam Fox

Adam Fox has had a great 2016, and he’s only played 11 games.

It was a pleasant surprise to hear his name being called on draft weekend 2016. I personally hadn’t heard of him before (and to my memory, other FN writers hadn’t either), but a quick glance at what he was able to do with the US Development Team had me impressed. Heading into the 2016 hockey season, we had him ranked #8 on our prospect list.

He’s dashed those lofty expectations. Right now, he’s a big and relevant topic for the Flames because of the World Junior’s tournament.  Fox is looking like a certain lock, fingers crossed, to be the #1 on the team, providing offensive firepower on an otherwise very defensive defence for the USA WJC squad.

Fox is almost immediately paying off for the Flames, but what of his future?

The present

Of course, before we talk about the future, let’s talk about Fox right now. There’s quite a few impressive stats to list about him, so let’s go rapid fire.

  • He has scored a point in every game except for two thus far.
  • He’s 10th in NCAA defenceman scoring, but also the only freshman out of those 10 (the only teenager, to boot).
  • In terms of points-per-game, he’s the #1
    NCAA defender.
  • He’s contributed to just about 33% of all Harvard goals.
  • The next closest defenceman to him on Harvard only has six points.
  • He’s outscoring every Crimson player besides Alex Kerfoot, a senior forward.

With 19 games left in their regular season schedule, Fox could find himself in the Harvard record book. At this rate, he’s going to pass the record for assists in a season by a defenceman (38, set in 1974-75 by Ed Rossi. Fox is on pace for 40) and should compete for the record for points in a season by a defenceman (46, set by Mark Fusco in 1983. Fox is on pace for 44). This isn’t considering the ECAC tournament or the NCAA Frozen Four, which both count towards end-of-season stats.

He should also be lighting up the international competition in the next week. With the USDP, he set a record last year for defenceman points with 59 in 64 games. Let’s focus on his impressive U18 WJC tournament, where he was tied for fourth in scoring on Team USA, tied for sixth in tournament scoring, and was the highest scoring defenceman overall. He was voted the tournament’s best defenceman at the end of the tournament, a bronze effort by the American kids.

Fox should be one of the USA’s top players (easier to say now that Logan Brown and Alex DeBrincat have been cut) in Montreal/Toronto, which can only raise our hopes for him.

The future

So what of his NHL future? Surely, it must be fast approaching for someone this dominant? The good news is that, at this rate, he only has two comparables by NHLe standards: Zach Werenski and Justin Faulk. Those two players were incredibly dominant in their draft +1 seasons, and if history is a good guide, we could see Fox in the NHL by next season.

However, we have been blessed with competent drafting over the past few years. Bottom six roles on next year’s Flames will be an intense competition with a handful of competent defenders each making their own case. Fox doesn’t have to be a part of that just yet.

And why would he? Fox has a sweet deal already at Harvard, getting a free ride for a world-class education. He has a chance to take home some major hardware if he continues at this rate, and perhaps lead Harvard to a national title. Why rush?

If he continues producing at this rate, we’ll have a more serious discussion about his future in April. But for now, let’s just appreciate what we have.

  • Greatsave

    Between Hamilton, Brodie, Kulak, Andersson, Kylington, and Fox, the Flames have the makings of a very good top-4 for a good chunk of time (starting say two years from now?), even if only two of the latter four pan out.

    If three or all four make it, I can see Kulak being bottom-pairing, but the fourth might be better served as a trade bait to fill out other needs?

        • Greatsave

          I can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic.

          I’ll be honest, they had slipped my mind. Whether fairly or not. Part of it is probably because AOM is out of sight, out of mind, and Hickey’s stock sounded like it had fallen (or plateaued somewhat).

          If AOM makes it, it’ll probably be as a 3rd-pairing defensive-minded guy? Which actually rounds out the D corps pretty nicely.

          You mentioned Culkin also, and it feels like his development had stalled a bit too thanks to injuries, and isn’t quite as high on the list anymore. This is also kind of supported by the fact that none of Culkin, Hickey, or AOM made the recent Flames prospects re-ranking.

          Regardless, this is just to say that these three are relative long-shots compared to the first six, especially for top-4 spots.

          • T&A4Flames

            Could all be pieces added as trade bait, though. Culkin looked great at the young stars tourney in Penticton in the summer. All 3 are still young with lots of room for growth.

  • Sobueno

    Out of any position, it seems like having a plethora of top 4 d-men is best from a trade market perspective. Nashville has been knocking it out of the park drafting their defence, and have been able to upgrade their forward corps enormously through trades as a result. If all of the above turn out for us and we can’t fit them all into the lineup, then that’d be a pretty sweet problem to have.