45
Photo Credit: courtesy Calgary Flames/NHL Media

FlamesNation prospect wrap-up: Adam Fox

While the Flames and Sharks did battle, Adam Fox and Harvard blew a 4-1 lead to something called Clarkson in the ECAC tournament, losing 5-4 in overtime.

That pretty much seals Harvard’s season. Despite being just a goal away from the National Championship last season, Harvard struggled all this year, barely being able to stay above .500, and needed to win the ECAC tournament to make the Frozen Four. They underperformed all season and needed a miracle to survive, but instead let one happen. They’re likely not going to get in the final 16 on merit, so their season is over. They’ll have to settle for being one of the world’s most recognizable and prestigious universities.

Accordingly, Fox’s season is also done, and he faces the potential of going pro in the next few weeks. As one of the Flames’ most recognizable and prestigious prospects, people have been keenly awaiting his arrival. Will it be soon?

Background

If you’re just a little bit familiar with Fox, you’ll know he’s a record breaker. He’s been one of the USA’s most promising young talents for a while now (bts: for a while, the only picture we had of Fox was him participating in a tournament as an eight year old. He was that noteworthy) and set the record for defenceman scoring on the U.S. Development Program team, one that still stands.

As a freshman at Harvard, Fox really blew the doors down. He had the sixth best freshman performance ever in NCAA history, and those who scored higher than he did played in the 70s and 80s, an era famous for easy goal scoring. With a strong WJC gold medal performance under his belt too, it was reasonable to expect that Fox would have an even more dynamite 2017-18.

2017-18 story

Fox was going to have an elevated role in both of his stops this season. At Harvard, seven seniors departed, including three 40-point scorers. With the U.S., he would be one of two defencemen returning from the gold medal winning squad. With both teams, Fox was going to need to step up and fill in some of the gaps created by these departures.

At Harvard, he tried admirably. It’s very hard to replace what Harvard lost, and their struggles throughout the year confirm this. Until the ECAC tournament, Harvard was one game above .500 and had already picked up twice as many losses as they did last year. Fox pretty much saved the team from getting bounced in round one of the tournament, scoring six total points in back-to-back elimination games.

The U.S. also ran into their fair share of problems at the World Juniors. Again, Fox played strong hockey leading all defencemen in scoring (one goal, four assists in seven games), but it wasn’t enough as the Americans settled for bronze.

The numbers

GP G A P Primary points 5v5 points 5v5 primary points NHLe
ECAC 29 6 22 28 16 9 5 18.21

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Fox quite clearly did not have as good a season as he did last year. He didn’t put up points as frequently, and really only outplayed his 2016-17 self early in the season. After a good start, he mostly disappeared, and Harvard struggled for the most part.

But he’s also a defenceman, a position that is not supposed to put up points. Fox rode the ebbs and flows of Harvard’s overall production, which is likely the main cause for his drop in scoring numbers. Last year, he was involved in 22.24% of all Crimson goals. This year, he was in on 30.34%. Despite the drop, he actually became a bigger part of Harvard’s overall attack. His ratio of primary points to all points also went up, which is good news, too.

Not to say he’s perfect. Fox still appears to mostly be a powerplay quarterback, not necessarily much of a threat at 5v5. His involvement in 5v5 goals didn’t change that much from last season to this one, jumping a tiny 1.52% from 15.82% to 17.34%. Ten 5v5 points all year is kind of a sad sight to see, and given that only six of those are primary points, it’s a bit concerning. Again, defencemen are never supposed to be the primary supplier of offence, but guys who rack up powerplay points generally raise a red flag.

Another oddity is his scoring splits, especially in a conference as weak as the ECAC. It seems a bit concerning that Fox was often invisible against the garbage teams in his conference, and it really took a few hot games at the end of the season to make his statline look digestible. In his first 20 games of the year, Fox was only able to score 12 points. Then he scored 16 in his final nine. Scoring doesn’t care when it happens, but it’s certainly an odd split and it really makes you wonder where Fox was for the majority of the year.

I would not be too concerned however. I feel it’s only fair to point out that Fox was a head above the rest of Harvard’s defence. He was eight points up on the next closest defenceman, and 12 up on third place. Among all NCAA defenders, he finished sixth in points per game while being younger (by years) than those ahead of him. He’s got his warts, but he’s still pretty good.

The future

It’s all in Fox’s hands now.

For my money, he leaves. Harvard isn’t really going anywhere. If this year is any indication, they’re a team that is going backwards and will probably lose top scorer Ryan Donato on top of that. They’re getting projected top 10 pick Oliver Wahlstrom and Jack Drury (Chris’ nephew) next year, but otherwise not a whole lot else. The team will be composed of a few promising young guys and a bunch of older, not great guys. He’s already run out of World Juniors eligibility, so it’s not as if a pro team would hold him back. Why stick around?

He’ll probably be ATO’d and sent to the AHL to finish off this year. Fellow 2016 draft pick, USDP teammate, and highly rated college athlete Trent Frederic has done the same. I would also imagine that he would spend the majority of next season in the AHL, as there is a pretty large gap between pro hockey and ECAC hockey – just ask Spencer Foo. You can start dreaming about the offence a Kylington-Fox pairing could put up. Or a Valimaki-Fox pairing, if that’s your thing.

But if he doesn’t sign, I wouldn’t panic. A Harvard education is pretty enticing, and I could see why anyone might not want to give that up for minor league hockey just yet. If Harvard rebounds, there’s a strong chance he could get some Hobey Baker nods. There’s incentive to stay there is what I’m saying. If he does stay, it’s probably not because he hates the Flames and wants to sign elsewhere, he just has some unfinished business.

Previously

Linus Lindstrom | Pavel Karnaukhov & Rushan Rafikov

  • OKG

    5v5 specialiist is not a poor outcome. Trade Hamilton, Hamonic and Stone away for some forward help and let Fox QB a powerplay that is a lock to be better than the present PP.

    Gio-Brodie
    Kulak-Andersson
    Kylington-Fox

    speed speed speed

      • OKG

        Sure you can go with 3 rookies. Last year’s Ducks had Theodore, Montour, Manson in the lineup and made the WCF. Getting an age appropriate RHS #1C like Eichel for Hamilton+Monahan would go a long way.

        PP1
        Fox
        Eichel-Bennett-Gaudreau
        Tkachuk
        PP2
        Giordano-Andersson
        Jankowski-Backlund
        Ferland

        • Flames8

          Those 3 dmen the ducks brought in weren’t all looked at as heavy offensive guys though. All of them still need to work on the defensive aspect of their games. I think Andersson is ready without a doubt. Idealy you move stone. Kylington could probably use a bit more seasoning. Whether it be one more year or half a year, he’s still young. Fox needs pro games at first. No need to rush them. I think they’ll all be good NHLer’s. But why rush them. Also why trade your best defenceman and #1 centre. I don’t think that gets eichel

          • OKG

            Andersson and Kylington are not offensive guys either. They are two way D whocan play any situation. Fox is the only offense only player and I haven’t seen a D with his pure offensive instincts since Nik Lidstrom.

      • OKG

        Brodie is better RD than Hamilton, Fox is at worst an average NHL #6+PP and has #1D upside, and Andersson is just as good as Hamonic and Stone. Rookie has got nothing to do with ability.

          • OKG

            Brodie
            Better PKer
            more productive (when playing right D)
            more creative
            better defensively
            doesn’t take two penalties a game
            Actually does stuff with the goalie pulled

            Hamilton:
            Nice Wrist Shot

          • Baalzamon

            So you just list a bunch of superlatives and think that proves anything. Kay. I can do that too.

            Hamilton is:
            More productive (the only year where Brodie outscored Hamilton was when Dougie had to drag around Kris Russell, one of the worst regular defenders in the league. Go figure. Hamilton scored a 50 point season without first-unit powerplay time)
            a Better shooter
            More creative
            Just plain better (Giordano was helped more by Hamilton than Brodie in the 16/17 season, hence why that pair stuck. In fact, literally every player on the team was helped more by Hamilton)

            I mean, come on. Brodie is getting outperformed by Hamonic this year. I don’t buy the “Brodie needs to play on the right side” argument at all, by the way. He had never played RD until he turned pro, and even then it was only about half the time before he was paired with Giordano. Adjusting back shouldn’t have affected him that badly.

            It’s not playing on the right side he misses. It’s playing with Giordano (and again, Hamilton helps Gio more than Brodie did. In fact, the numbers last season said Gio needed Dougie more than the other way around).

            Hamilton’s better. Always has been. Always will be. Deal with it.

        • Chrissu

          But how do you know that Fox is, at worst, a NHL #6 defenseman? Fox has no pro experience so far so it’s unfair to him to expect NHL level preformance from Fox.
          Also, I would not want to take Eichel and that 10 million contract for Monahan and Hamilton

          • OKG

            You would be absolutely insane to turn down that trade from the Flames perspective. Eichel makes us an instant contender. Solves everything wrong with our team offensively.

            Fox is an NHLer. Some players you just know. With that hockey IQ he could score 40+ as a 20yo rookie D.

        • Hockey for life

          Hahaha what? Hamilton has allot better defensive And offensive stats this year. Actually tied for lead in goals. Brodie has been hot garbage all year. No way someone watches hockey and thinks Brodie is better

        • LannyMac

          I can’t believe you got nothing but trash replies. Does anybody out there notice how bad Hamilton plays on the defensive side of things. He is comatose out there.

        • LannyMac

          Stay with it OKG your takes on Hamilton are bang on Hamilton is so overrated by this fan base. Every time I watch him play I feel the fan base is as comatose as the player they rave about

    • WillyWonka

      ya, lets trade away our defensive dead weight cause defense doesn’t matter anyway, at least that is what my Oiler-fan friends say. the best defense is no defense and 1 star forward… it works every time, like in edmonton

  • radiomonkey

    He’s going to go back to Harvard. Another year of Ivy League education is pretty enticing, and it puts pressure on the Flames to make room for him in 2019.

    The Flames need to stagger this new wave of D anyways. Andersson makes the team out of camp, Valimaki starts in the minors and fights with Kylington for first call-up. Fox spends another year in school.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      It’s bigger than that. Hitmen and Roughnecks are among the worst clubs in their leagues. The last two seasons the Stamps entered the Grey Cup as the biggest favourite in the history of the final and came away empty. Consensus is that other than the Leos, the other West clubs have caught up to the Stamps. Apparently, no deals even on the horizon for a new arena or football stadium.

      What is the common denominator of all this futility? Look no further than the owner. There’s your story.

  • DMac

    The intelligence of this young man is the same on the ice as it must be off. He has a chance at an Ivy League education. He will play four (4) years at Harvard, graduate and join Messrs. Rasmussen, Vaalmaki on a dynamic Flames defense after that.

  • Chucky

    Great to speculate but it would be interesting to hear the Flames sales pitch. It will probably be Conroy trying to sign him and he has been successful with college players in the past, but what does he have to offer. The Flames are a non playoff team that hates to give young players a chance. So what is the offer, you are welcome to sign a minor league contract that will put you on the second defense pairing in Stockton until 2020-21, you will slot in right behind Rasmus Anderson but he becomes a free agent in 2020-21 and by that time he will be fed up with the minors so more than likely he will sign with someone else and you will get to go from the second pairing in the AHL to the Second pairing in the NHL, don’t worry you will be ready by then.
    He becomes a free agent on July 1 and his options, Boston has 5 defence signed for next year, NYI have 5 defense signed for next year Philly has 4 defense signed for next year. Conroy has got a tough sales job ahead of him if he expects to get Fox to even think about being a Flame becasue there are at least 20 teams with something better to offer.
    It really is too bad because he does remind of Phil Housley and it could be fun to watch him.

  • Chucky

    Maybe we could have real look at the Flames future with a line-up like this for the last few games. (apologies to Stockton’s Finest)

    Gaudreau-Monahan-Ferland
    Bennett-Jankowski-Tkachuk
    Lazar-Backlund-Frolik
    Mangiapane-Shore-Foo

    Giorano-Hamilton
    Kulak-Brodie
    Wotherspoon-Andersson

    See if the kids can make a scoring line, when they have been together it has been exciting.
    See if Lazar can fit into a shutdown role, he has the speed and the physicality and might have the hockey sense.
    See if Brodie is still a good right defenseman because he certainly has not moved to the left side with success. Even if they end up trading him a few good games on the right might help his value.
    Wotherspoon will be in the NHL next year with someone other than the Flames, maybe his trade value can be increased by a cup of coffee in the NHL and a draft pick can be reclaimed rather than watch him go in free agency.