Going into the 2021-22 season, the New York Rangers had a problem in the distance. Adam Fox was entering the final year of his entry-level contract, and had just come off winning the Norris Trophy for the NHL’s best all-around defenseman, beating out defensemen such as Cale Makar and Victor Hedman for the award. Because of that performance, he was going to get paid, but there was some question as to whether or not the Rangers would rush to pay him the big bucks.
Well, they did. They gave him a lot of money, as he signed a seven-year deal with an annual average value of $9.5 million.
Although it may seem expensive just coming off an entry-level contract, Fox has been worth every dollar of his long-term extension, recording 16 points thus far through 16 games. While he’s been up-to-par for the contract given to him, New York’s financial situation isn’t looking bright, as at the end of the season, the Rangers have to re-sign Ryan Strome, Kappo Kakko, Sammy Blais and Alexander Georgeiv. All within $8 million of cap space. Kakko and Blais won’t cost a lot due to their low production, however, Strome and Georgeiv will. On top of all this, They have Alexis Lafrenière to deal with next in two years.
The Fox contract secured them a franchise defenseman at the sacrifice of their salary cap security. With that in mind, I propose a way to soften the blow and relieve stress on their cap space.
Trade someone. Trade a player like Chris Kreider, who’s been used as trade bait for several years now, and is currently the holder of good trade value, being just under a point per game to start the campaign. The Rangers can get $6.5 million off the books and give a player like Lafrenière sustainable first-line time again to heighten his confidence and provide him with more ice time.
Though trading a player is one solution for what I believe is a bigger problem, New York’s front office needs to start looking at the books to make sure they can keep the future that they have wanted so badly since the drafting of Kappo Kakko.
To conclude, can the Rangers afford Adam Fox? Yes, they can, but at the potential cost of beneficial pieces.