Generally I pay little attention to the NHL awards, they are far from objective for the most part, particularly with awards such as the Norris Trophy and the “Best NHL Defenseman”, where the winner is almost always featured amongst the top offensive defensemen, and not necessarily the ones who actually defend.
Perhaps they should create a separate trophy for the best DEFENSEman, but really, does it matter.
With that said, congratulations to Adam Fox who became just the second player since the award was introduced in the 1953-54 season, to win the award in his first two years in the league. Fox has certainly been a revelation as a Ranger, growing up as a fan of the team, and helping to engineer a trade that brought the former Carolina Hurricane pick to MSG.
His ability to play both sides of the puck put him in a rare class, proving that this year by finishing second int he league amongst blueliners with 47 points, and first with 42 assists – he did play one game fewer than Tyson Barrie of Edmonton who finished with 48 points in 56 games.
Defensively though, Fox was very reliable, consistently playing against the opposition’s top lines and totalling 1358:51 of ice time, good enough for 7th in the league amongst defenders. It’s easy to forget that Fox is playing in just his second NHL season, with the poise and confidence he plays with.
While he’s not as flashy as the likes of Brian Leetch, his passing is elite, and his ability to slow the game down and make the right decision with the puck or defensively, makes him amongst the best in the league at the age of 23.
While Fox picked up the main defenseman award, K’Andre Miller also got an honorable mention. The rookie blueliner who stepped in to help anchor the second pair, was selected to the NHL All-Rookie team along with Devils blueliner Ty Smith. Miller was a welcome surprise out of camp, and formed a credible partnership with Jacob Trouba, who also seemed to benefit from the play of his partner to elevate his own game.
With more highly touted defensemen on the way in the form of Braden Schneider, Nils Lundkvist and Matthew Robertson, as well as the likes of Zac Jones, Hunter Skinner and Tarmo Reunanen, the team looks well positioned for the next few years on the blueline.