When highly touted Harvard defenseman Adam Fox refused to sign a contract with the Carolina Hurricanes, who had traded for his rights, there was widespread speculation that the New York Rangers were his desired NHL destination. The speculation was accurate: The Hurricanes traded Fox to the Rangers on Tuesday in exchange for a second-round pick in 2019 and a conditional third-round pick in 2020.
Fox, 21, had 48 points in 33 games with Harvard as a junior this season and was named a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award as the top player in collegiate hockey. He also was named a first-team All-American. Fox has played for the United States internationally in world junior tournaments for three straight seasons.
The Hurricanes acquired Fox in a June 2018 deal with the Calgary Flames, along with defenseman Dougie Hamilton and forward Micheal Ferland. Fox opted not to sign with the Flames, who drafted him 66th overall in 2016, after his sophomore season with Harvard. So they shipped his rights to the Hurricanes, who hoped to sign him after his junior season and were unable to.
Once that happened, Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon said the team would "try to trade" the native of Jericho, New York. Fox did have the option of returning to Harvard for his senior season and becoming a free agent in 2020. Instead, he's expected to sign an entry-level deal to play for the Rangers.
A right defenseman, Fox was called the best defensive prospect not currently in the NHL by Carolina general manager Don Waddell when Fox attended the Hurricanes' prospects camp last year. But while Fox is considered a blue-chip prospect, ESPN's Chris Peters had him ranked 30th and behind eight other defensemen on Peters' list of top 50 best young players who were currently not in the league.
"High-end vision, poise and an ability to read plays especially well have all helped Fox become one of the top defensemen in college hockey. He is an assist machine, can quarterback a power play and gets up the ice especially well. Defensively there is room for improvement," Peters wrote.
Fox, 21, joins a Rangers team in the midst of a rebuild. The Rangers own the second overall pick in this summer's draft and have a bevy of strong prospects in their system. Fox should step right into the Rangers blue line and see significant minutes as a rookie next season.
The second-round pick shipped to Carolina is the one the Rangers own. TSN's Bob McKenzie reports that the 2020 third-rounder becomes a second-rounder if Fox plays 30 games next season. Were that to happen, acquiring a pair of second-round picks for a player who didn't want to play in Carolina should take a little of the sting away for the Hurricanes, even if their ultimate goal was having Fox join their impressive collection of defensemen in Raleigh.