For those who only track the Hurricanes at the NHL level, Adam Fox is a prospect defenseman who was obtained from Calgary in the trade that included Dougie Hamilton and Micheal Ferland. Fox is a cerebral offensive defenseman and a high-end prospect. The downside to Fox and probably the reason he was available is the fact that he was believed to want to play all four years at the NCAA and turn pro as a free agent. Today’s news suggests that that continues to be a possibility
My quick thoughts on the situation…
Adam Fox’s right
It is every bit Adam Fox’s right to work through four years of college and become a free agent. The concept of 18-20 year old kids entering the work force having zero say into what company they work for or even what city they live in has always been in interesting one. If Fox follows the rules and pays his dues at the college level, he has every right to become a free agent and capitalize on that situation as best he can.
Not really any ability to negotiate
From the Hurricanes standpoint, there is not too much they can do other than staying engaged and hoping for the best. Because entry-level contracts are defined by the league rules, there really is not much to negotiate. It is very simply a matter of Fox choosing to stay in the NCAA ranks and becoming a free agent versus starting his professional play a year early.
Potential to leverage the potential lockout to get Fox signed
The one wild card that the Hurricanes have pending is the potential for an NHL lockout before the start of the 2020-21 season. The risk for Fox is to wait to become a free agent and then immediately miss that first season. The result is that it backs up Fox’s start of his professional career in terms of being paid at least a signing bonus, working through his entry-level contract and simply getting started with his professional career. So there is some chance that the Hurricanes can leverage the situation since they are the only team that can expedite Fox’s development and situation.
Overestimating the probability of NHL success for NCAA stars
If Fox does eventually go the free agent route, the loss will be a sizable one for the Hurricanes prospect pool. Fox is a top 50 in the entire NHL type of prospect with a high ceiling and a game that fits today’s NHL. He also represents future help on the blue line where the Hurricanes are light on true prospects. That said, I think people often overestimate the probability that success at the college level will translate instantly into the same thing at the NHL level. There have been college players who have become NHL stars, but in total even the greatest college hockey stars have been hit or miss.
Effect on the prospect pool
As noted above, Fox is a high-end prospect and the potential for blue line help in the future. The Hurricanes are light in terms of blue line prospects, so losing Fox hurts in that regard too. Minus Fox, the Hurricanes have Jake Bean as a similar offense-leaning defenseman with a high ceiling, Luke Martin who is also playing NCAA hockey and Roland McKeown as a lower ceiling right shot. Past that, the Hurricanes have a handful of defensemen drafted in lower rounds and unlikely to ever make the NHL. So one upshot could be that the Hurricanes use the 2019 NHL draft to restock defense prospects.
Despite Fox’s potential to become a free agent, there is a reasonable chance that the Hurricanes recoup something for fox in the trade market this summer. Some teams will be willing to part with a draft pick to get exclusive negotiating rights to Fox to gain the upper hand in signing him as a free agent.
The chance for an abrupt change
Despite today’s news, there is still some chance that the Hurricanes do get Fox under contract. There is a chance that Fox’s agent is pushing to get some unwritten promises into the contract that helps Fox get NHL experience sooner rather than later.
What say you Canes fans?
1) Are you surprised to hear that Adam Fox plans to ride out his senior year and then become a free agent after that?
2) What are the chances that this is simply a negotiating ploy that eventually proves to be the beginning not the end?