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The Case for Trading (or Keeping) Adam Fox

Fox looks to have a very bright future ahead of him

2016 NHL Draft - Portraits Photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes/Getty Images

When the Calgary Flames drafted Adam Fox with the 66th overall pick in the 2016 draft, they knew that had potential to be getting a steal. Most scouting agencies had him ranked in the top 60 players with some even ranking him as high as the 30’s. So when he fell to the Flames at 66, they pounced, and have reaped the rewards of that pick since.

Fox looks to have a very promising future, but with the Flames having a pretty stacked defensive pool both in the NHL and the prospect system, could it be worth exploring a trade? The Flames still have over two years to sign him before he could become a free agent, so it’s not like the Flames are forced to trade him or anything.

Anyways, let’s first jump into the case for trading him, and then look at the case for keeping him.

Trading Adam Fox

Obviously a big reason some may have for wanting to trade Fox is that he could go the way of Jimmy Vesey and just not sign in Calgary. That shouldn’t be the reason the Flames would consider trading Fox this summer, or even next.

First of all, players like Vesey are the rare cases and that’s often the reason they get the attention that they do. Secondly, many folks had this exact same worry with Johnny Gaudreau when he was in college, and that worked out. Thirdly, the Flames will have until August 15 2020 to sign him, so its not a pressing deadline and the Flames still have two years to woo him over in any way possible if there is any hesitation in his camp.

The biggest reason a trade of Fox would make some sense this summer is that they could address an area of weakness by dealing from a position of strength which is their back end and specifically their youth on the back end.

For the Flames to be willing to trade Adam Fox this summer, they would need to get some sort of return that includes a top six forward or a high draft pick, but my preference would be on a top six forward. The Flames may even be able to incite a bidding war for Fox as there should be lots of interest in a 20 year old right-handed offensive defenseman with sky-high potential.

Who could be trading partners? When you consider that Fox is at least one or more years away, it probably makes more sense for a rebuilding team to acquire him as they can give him time, or a team that’s looking to shed cap for next season. It doesn’t make a ton of sense for a team who’s window is open right now.

Calgary definitely shouldn’t trade Fox within the division and it would be smart to even be hesitant to trade him within the conference. With that in mind, here’s a preliminary list of teams that could make some sense and may have a top six forward available at the right price.

  • Carolina Hurricanes (Jeff Skinner, 82 GP, 24 G, 25 A, 49 PTS, +1.02 CFRel%, 1 yr at 5.725M w/NMC)

Skinner had a down year from his previous 63 points, but with the Hurricanes potentially moving him, it might make some sense for the Flames to try and bring him back to Bill Peters. A deal involving Fox doesn’t seem likely with Carolina having a stacked D prospect pool and the Hurricanes not being in a position to give up scoring.

After returning to Chicago as part of the Artemi Panarin trade, Saad struggled like many of the Blackhawks to get going this year. While it seems unlikely that Stan Bowman would ship out Saad so quickly after one year, he may be one of the few movable big contracts on Chicago so his hands may end up tied. The Hawks need to start replenishing their farm system, and Fox could be a nice add to it.

  • Detroit Red Wings (Gustav Nyquist, 82 GP, 21 G, 19 A, 40 PTS, +2.85 CFRel%, 1 yr at 4.75M)

With the Red Wings firmly entering the rebuilding process, they’ll probably be looking at moving Nyquist at some point in the next year. Given the return they got for Tomas Tatar, they might be better off just holding off until the trade deadline. Nyquist did spend some time under Peters when Peters was an assistant coach in Detroit.

  • Montreal Canadiens (Max Pacioretty, 64 GP, 17 G, 20 A, 37 PTS, +3.13 CFRel%, 1 yr at 4.5M)

Pacioretty is a name I’ve seen connected to the Flames and it could be a deal that ends up happening. The risk in Pacioretty is that he took a sizeable step back this year and is also a free agent after next season.

  • New York Rangers (Mats Zuccarelllo, 80 GP, 16 G, 37 A, 53 PTS, +0.28 CFRel%, 1 yr at 4.5M)

On paper, the Flames and Rangers seem like really good matches for trades as the Rangers are entering a rebuilding phase whilst the Flames are looking to bolster their roster with NHL ready talent. It’s hard to say exactly what deal would occur or if Zuccarello would even be the player Calgary targets, but there seems to be potential there.

  • Ottawa Senators (Mike Hoffman, 82 GP, 22 G, 34 A, 56 PTS, +1.29 CFRel%, 2 yrs at 5.188M)

Hoffman would be a huge add for the Flames and would likely take a lot more than just Fox, but he would fit in very well in Calgary. It’s hard to say exactly what the Sens are doing mostly because of the Erik Karlsson situation, but bolstering their blue line with Fox could be a good way to soften the blow of losing Karlsson.

It is worth noting that Sprong’s production came at the AHL level. The main reason I included him in this deal is that I did an Andersson for Sprong piece last month and some readers suggested that Fox for Sprong could make sense as well. Sprong is 21 and looks to be ready to make the NHL jump. The Pens GM came out last week and said Sprong will be on their team in 2018-19 so he may tough to pry away.

Obviously the players mentioned above and subsequent deals will likely have to be added to from one or both sides, but each player could provide a nice boost to Calgary’s top six and overall depth. There is quite a bit of risk with all those one year deals, but hopefully the Flames would account for that in their deals with either extensions agreed upon or conditional picks.

I’m not saying the Flames should trade Fox, but if they decide to, it should be for a player that’s of the caliber above.

Keeping Adam Fox

This section will be much shorter as there really are quite a few good reasons to keep Fox but as I already mentioned above is that they still have plenty of time before they’re forced to make a decision.

The biggest reason to keep him? I mean he’s a 20 year old right handed shooting offensive defenseman who is ranked as one of the better prospects league-wide.

He’s a dynamic playmaker who has shown glimpses of amazing potential in just the two years since he’s been drafted. He’s been a big part of the United States last two World Junior Championships and was even in the discussion for a possible spot on the Olympic roster last winter.

Fox could be a perfect option for anchoring the Flames powerplay down the line with his skillset and could be a major point producer in the NHL.

Really it all comes down to that the Flames can take their time to analyze Fox’s development, and also see what kind of offers they start to get for him. There’s nothing pushing them to trade him today, so why would you force it unless you’re getting a steal?

Fox already looks like an absolute steal for a third round pick, and as his progression continues, it should only get better.

If the Flames can find the right deal to bolster their NHL roster today, it may make some sense to consider trading Fox, but with the amount of time they have left before they have to sign him, there isn’t any rush to do so. You would hate to give up on his potential unles you knew you were getting something great back.

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Should the Calgary Flames trade Adam Fox this summer?

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