One of the perhaps underrated parts of this summer’s blockbuster trade between the Calgary Flames and Carolina Hurricanes was unsigned prospect Adam Fox. The young defenseman had been selected in the third round of the 2016 draft out of the US National Development Program, but shot up prospect rankings after incredible freshman and sophomore seasons at Harvard. The Flames had tried to get him under contract before the 2018 draft but failed, with Fox committing to return to Harvard for his junior year. That commitment put a ton of risk on Carolina for the acquisition, as there was no guarantee he would ever suit up as a Hurricane.
Now, in a piece that details Fox’ outstanding junior season for Harvard, Sara Civian of The Athletic (subscription required) reports that Carolina is “very confident” they can sign the young defenseman. In fact, Fox himself addresses the rumors that he wants to wait until he’s an unrestricted free agent in order to sign somewhere else:
I know people think I have some plan to sign with the [New York] Rangers because of where I grew up. But my dream, my goal, is to play in the NHL. As soon as possible.
That is huge news for Carolina fans hoping to get a look at Fox before long, and also puts even more intrigue on how the team will navigate the upcoming trade deadline. The Hurricanes already have a glut of young defensemen and have been interested in acquiring a top-end forward for some time. Players like Trevor van Riemsdyk are being underutilized because of the team’s depth, and prospects like Jake Bean can’t crack the lineup. It’s tough to imagine that is a strong negotiating position when sitting down with Fox, who is obviously ready to take the next step to the NHL right away.
If the Hurricanes feel so confident that they can sign Fox after his college season ends, perhaps they’ll be even more motivated to move one of their right-handed defensemen this trade season. That group is made up of van Riemsdyk, Justin Faulk, Dougie Hamilton and Brett Pesce, an incredibly deep unit that would be appealing to just about every team in the league.
Fox meanwhile could always go back to Harvard for his senior season, and potentially become an unrestricted free agent in August of 2020. That threat may have the Hurricanes scrambling to make room for him over the next few months, in order to avoid any last-minute decisions on his part. With the Hurricanes pushing for a playoff spot this season, there’s even the opportunity that Fox could get under contract and make his debut before the end of the NHL year.