Jeff Cox has reported that Carolina Hurricanes prospect Adam Fox will be staying for his fourth year of college, and becoming a free agent at the end of it.
Per multiple sources, Harvard junior D Adam Fox will return for senior season, opting not to sign with Carolina Hurricanes. Favors becoming free agent next summer. Great news for Crimson and college hockey as a whole.
— Jeff Cox (@JeffCoxSports) March 26, 2019
As of this moment, Carolina Hurricanes beat reporter for The Athletic, Sara Civian, has reported that Carolina has not confirmed their knowledge of Fox’s imminent departure.
I'm hearing that if Adam Fox has decided not to sign with the Hurricanes, he hasn't told them yet. The Canes haven't heard anything and they think he is still undecided.
— Sara Civ (@SaraCivian) March 26, 2019
What’s the Sitch?
Adam Fox is a 21-year-old right handed defender playing for the Harvard University Crimson.
Carolina’s rights to Fox will expire on August 15th, 2020. The Flames-drafted prospect has always generated concern about this exact option in his draft rights. The following prospect review for Flames Nation by Christian Tiberi highlights that very fact, and provides some history on Fox for anyone who is unfamiliar.
In summary, Fox had a bit of a down-turned 2017-18 season, leading to a somewhat lukewarm review of him. Overall, he’s rated as a fantastic prospect.
His offensive prowess returned in this 2018-19 season for Harvard University’s hockey program. He scored 48 points in just 32 games for Harvard, an excellent season to be sure.
For a detailed report of Fox, check out a few scouting reports on him. Here’s one from Dobber prospects.
Fox is an offensive wizard. He finds ways to gather assists like the greatest easter egg hunter. He plays with a confidence and authority that is hard to miss. His stickhandling, vision, ability to get shots through quickly from the point are elite in his draft class.
Fox is a good skater who looks far more graceful in confined spaces than he does in open ice. His lateral movement and edge work are excellent — his twirls and pirouettes are strikingly similar to the way Ottawa star defender Erik Karlsson controlled his puck movement while playing for Team Sweden in his pre-draft years.
On the whole of it, he’s getting great reviews and the hype fully seems worth it.
Impact for the Leafs
Fox’s potential availability is stellar news for a team such as the Maple Leafs whose only significant weakness on their roster is on the right side of their defense. They also have an upcoming defensive mass exodus. Four of the present members of the top 6 of Toronto’s defense unit likely will not be there come time to sign Fox, during the 2020 NHL offseason.
There is little doubt that Fox would be ready for the prime time come 2020. He currently leads NCAA DI Men’s Hockey in points per game, ahead of Colorado Avalanche top prospect Cale Makar and recent Leafs signing Joseph Duszak, and could win the Hobey Baker Award this year, as a junior. Who knows what he can accomplish next year at this level when he is a senior.
Toronto does have the above-mentioned Duszak joining their system as a right handed defenseman, as well as top-pairing-AHL-defender-at-19 Timothy Liljegren there, as well as Eemeli Rasanen, Mac Hollowell, and Jesper Lindgren in their ranks to be considered. But Adam Fox jumps above all of those names except Liljegren today, without question.
However, the latter two could be in competition for a job. Unless Liljegren is able to graduate next year onto the bottom pairing, and establish himself enough to earn a top-four role in the 2020-21 season, then both Liljegren and Fox would be up for the bottom pairing role in 2020-21. While that may lead to one of those assets being expendable, it’s a gamble worth taking when all you’re spending on Fox is cash. Additionally, the internal competition could help both players reach higher ceilings.
What an exciting prospect this is.
There are not many teams with the opportunity waiting for Fox like the Maple Leafs do. Other than the fact that his timeline lines up with Liljegren’s, the Leafs desperately need someone of Fox’s calibre on the right side of their defense. He would sign here knowing that he’ll have a significant role in 2020.
Hopefully the outreach program that brought in John Tavares can work once again in the bidding war for Adam Fox. Of course, the Leafs were very recently in the running for Jimmy Vesey, who did the same as Fox allegedly plans to, and it didn’t work out. But this time… maybe this time it’ll be different.