Adam Fox isn’t ready to predict if the New York Rangers will qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season, but the defenseman said he is ready for bigger and better things.
“I think playoffs or bust is maybe an exaggerated way to put it, but definitely the expectations are higher,” Fox said during an appearance on the “NHL @TheRink” podcast Wednesday.
The Rangers have not won an NHL postseason game since 2017. They didn’t qualify for the playoffs in 2018 or 2019, were swept in three games in the best-of-5 Stanley Cup Qualifiers by the Carolina Hurricanes in 2020 and failed to reach the playoffs again last season.
Fox also talked about winning the Norris Trophy voted as the best defenseman in the NHL and what it has meant to him, the likelihood of the Rangers having a captain for the first time since defenseman Ryan McDonagh was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2018 and the possibility that it could be him, and the potential to have a chance to play for the United States in the 2022 Beijing Olympics.
The Rangers changed coaches in the offseason, hiring Gerard Gallant, the Jack Adams Award winner with the Vegas Golden Knights in 2017-18 for NHL coach of the year as voted by members of the NHL Broadcasters’ Association. Gallant is replacing David Quinn, who was fired after three seasons.
“You can only say you’re a young team for so long or you’re only in a developmental phase for so long,” Fox said. “We have pieces and a lot of really good players, so I think it’s probably playoffs or it’s a disappointing year for a lot of guys. It starts in camp and gelling together. We did bring in a few pieces, guys with experience. We’re all excited to get going and the playoffs are a goal for everyone in that room.”
Fox said he’s spoken to Gallant a handful of times and has been impressed.
“I’ve heard nothing but good things about him,” he said. “I can’t speak too much to the systems. We haven’t gotten going with that. But you see the success he’s had with Vegas and I haven’t heard someone say a bad word about him. I’m definitely excited to get going with him.”
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New York focused on grit and becoming a tougher team to play against with the additions of forwards Barclay Goodrow, Sammy Blais and Ryan Reaves, and defensemen Patrik Nemeth and Jarred Tinordi.
Goodrow, Blais and Reaves are expected to play in the bottom six forward group, behind a top-six that should feature Mika Zibanejad, Artemi Panarin, Chris Kreider, Alexis Lafreniere, Kaapo Kakko and Ryan Strome.
Nemeth and Tinordi will battle for playing time behind a top-four on defense that includes Fox, Ryan Lindgren, Jacob Trouba and K’Andre Miller. Rookie defenseman Nils Lundkvist, a first-round pick (No. 28) in the 2018 NHL Draft, could earn a spot in training camp.
“We brought some guys in with more experience, guys with more defined roles,” Fox said. “You hear the playoffs and everything, but I think every team wants to make the playoffs going into the year. I don’t think anyone is going in to lose games. New coaching staff, a few new players, so it’s a step-by-step process.”
The process has been ongoing in New York since 2018, when the Rangers went into an announced rebuild. There’s been talk about them coming out of the rebuild for the past year.
Fox said he thinks it’s time.
“We should definitely take a step forward,” he said. “We’ve been a young team for the past few years and it only gets better with more experience.”
The podcast this week also featured discussions on the futures of Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel and St. Louis Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko, the remodeling of the Chicago Blackhawks, the potential for the Seattle Kraken to qualify for the playoffs and much more.
The “NHL @TheRink” is free and listeners can subscribe on all podcast platforms. It is also available on NHL.com/multimedia/podcasts and the NHL app.