Adam Fox extension shows Rangers spending like contenders

Adam Fox extension shows Rangers spending like contenders
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Are the New York Rangers done with their rebuild, and ready to contend? The Adam Fox contract extension provides the latest bit of evidence that, whether they’re true contenders or not, the Rangers are spending like one.

The Rangers confirmed that they signed reigning Norris Trophy winner Adam Fox to a seven-year extension. According to various reporters, including the New York Post’s Larry Brooks, the cap hit will be $9.5 million per season.

Fox, 23, just began what would have been a contract year. With that in mind, Fox’s extension carries that $9.5M cap hit from 2022-23 through 2028-29.

By itself, Adam Fox extension is a no-brainer for Rangers

During the 2021 offseason, prices went wild for top defensemen. Big deals weren’t just thrown around for clear top blueliners. Teams practically tore muscles stretching to pay up for defensemen they merely hoped would look like No. 1 blueliners. (Look at the hasty Seth Jones extension, and the trade cost to acquire him.)

Amid what sometimes resembled chaos, the Avalanche actually attained value for a genuine, young, No. 1 defenseman. Credit the relative value on RFA leverage, but either way, locking down 23-year-old Cale Makar for six years at a $9.M cap hit was a no-brainer for the Avs.

Apply the same logic to Adam Fox and the Rangers.

Like Makar, Fox is in the meat of his prime at 23. Both are rare defensemen whose best days might come after signing for $9M/$9.5M. Worries about the aging curve are muted, if they’re there at all.

Considering Fox still has this last cheap year left, the Rangers now have him locked down for his prime years. Honestly, the Rangers shouldn’t have even flinched at Adam Fox’s extension. Grunt at the Harvard connection or not, but Fox is truly a brilliant defenseman.

Costs starting to really add up for New York, though

You’ve got to “spend money to make money.” In hockey, you have to spend money to keep players beyond their RFA years. For the special ones, you often have to open up the wallet for their second contracts.

So, again, the Rangers should not feel a second of regret about the Adam Fox extension. He’s already well worth $9.5M per year. If that goes wrong, it’s likely due to something few could have seen coming.

But the Rangers’ larger spending profile still raises a red flag or two.

The easy to defend

To start, consider a few of the bigger contracts that are easy for the Rangers to defend.

  • Fox is a premium defender. If he maintains his current level of play, Fox’s contract extension is a bargain for the Rangers. At his age, he might even get better. Scary for the rest of the NHL.
  • It’s early, but Igor Shesterkin‘s $5.667M cap hit (through 2024-25) looks like a very nice value. If not, it was a reasonable bet on the 25-year-old goalie.
  • At 30, Artemi Panarin could tussle with Father Time fairly soon. Then again, his savvy style could also age well. Either way, he’s been MVP-adjacent since joining the Rangers, so that $11.643M cap hit’s totally fair.

Lingering mysteries

  • Kaapo Kakko, 20, recently began his contract year. He’s set to become an RFA after this season. Frankly, the Rangers might want to extend Kakko, too — before he possibly breaks out.
  • Alexis Lafrenière, 20, has two years remaining on his rookie deal. It’s a mystery what he’ll cost in 2023-24 and beyond.
  • What does the future hold for Ryan Strome (28, $4.5M cap hit set to expire after 2021-22)? Can they maintain a spot for Filip Chytil (22, $2.3M AAV through 2022-23)? Alexandar Georgiev‘s Rangers days may also be numbered.

Possibly extravagant

  • Mika Zibanejad is a heck of a talent. The 28-year-old could easily be worth it when his cap hit raises to $8.5M starting in 2022-23. How well will that age, being that Zibanejad’s under contract through 2029-30? Plenty of people thought Zibanejad might get lost in the shuffle. (Although some of those thoughts were Jack Eichel-related.)
  • Chris Kreider, 30, is another Rangers player whose extension was mildly surprising. Kreider’s useful, but his rugged style might accelerate his decline. His $6.5M cap hit runs through 2026-27.
  • In their quest for grit, the Rangers splurged on Barclay Goodrow. Might they regret signing a 28-year-old supporting cast member at $3.642M for so long (expires after 2026-27)?
  • To some real relief, Jacob Trouba‘s bounced back from a profoundly terrible start to his Rangers career. That $8M price tag still stings, especially since the 27-year-old’s on the books through 2025-26.

Things could get tight pretty quickly for Rangers

Just to emphasize it once more: the Rangers had to sign Adam Fox to this extension. It’s highly likely to pay off, too.

That said, for a franchise that’s frequently paid marquee prices for sometimes off-Broadway results, it’s a little unsettling to see breathing room choke away so fast. That’s especially true if an opponent tries to squeeze them on young players who could hit RFA status.

Via the indispensible Cap Friendly, the Rangers devote almost $71M in cap space to 15 roster spots so far for 2022-23. They’re slated to spend almost $60M for 10 roster spots for 2023-24.

(The sticker shock lingers. In 2024-25: $53.45M to seven players. Six players command almost $48M in cap space for 2025-26.)

Naturally, optimism outweighs gloom and doom. The Rangers are loaded with young talent, and if their veterans age well, they could be a force. At 6-2-1, the Rangers already provide some proof of concept.

If things don’t come together, or they feel a piece or two short of completing the puzzle? That’s when they might regret some of their more luxurious decisions.

(But the Adam Fox extension counts as a necessity for the Rangers.)

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Scroll Down For:

    Spencer Carbery hired as Capitals coach after 2 seasons as Maple Leafs assistant

    Getty Images

    The Washington Capitals hired Spencer Carbery as their next coach, bringing back a favorite of the organization to fill the job he envisioned getting years ago.

    The team announced the move, bringing Carbery back into the fold after he spent the past two seasons as an assistant for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

    Before that, Carbery was considered the heir apparent to veteran Capitals coach Peter Laviolette because of his time with Washington’s top minor league affiliate. Carbery coached the American Hockey League’s Hershey Bears for three seasons from 2018-21 before getting his first NHL job on Sheldon Keefe’s staff with Toronto.

    “Spencer is one of the best young coaches in the game who’s had success at every level at which he has coached,” general manager Brian MacLellan said in a statement. “We feel his leadership, communication skills, ability to develop players and familiarity with our organization will be a tremendous asset as he makes this next step in his coaching career.”

    Carbery, 41, went from a Capitals home-grown prospect who began with their ECHL team in South Carolina to one of the most intriguing coaching candidates in hockey. He interviewed with the San Jose Sharks for their vacancy last year and multiple others this spring.

    The Capitals got him back in the role they envisioned for him before a rival team could scoop him up. They chose Carbery from a pool of candidates that also included former captain-turned-Tampa Bay assistant Jeff Halpern, Philadelphia associate coach Brad Shaw and others with more experience.

    “I would like to thank the Capitals organization for affording me the opportunity to lead this team,” Carbery said. “I look forward to working with this group of talented players and building upon the winning culture in place. I would also like to thank the Toronto Maple Leafs organization for all their support over the past two years.”

    Carbery will be tasked with trying to get Washington back into the playoffs after the end of the organization’s eight-year streak. He takes over an aging team still headlined by Alex Ovechkin, who was playoff MVP in 2018 during the first Stanley Cup run in franchise history and is now chasing Wayne Gretzky’s career goals record.

    Ovechkin is 73 away from breaking the record, and from owner Ted Leonsis down to general manager Brian MacLellan, the goal is to continue contending for as long as the Russian star is under contract. Ovechkin is signed for three more seasons, making that the most likely window before the start of a rebuilding process.

    Golden Knights reach second Stanley Cup Final after Game 6 win over Stars

    Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

    DALLAS — William Karlsson scored two goals and had an assist as the Vegas Golden Knights advanced to their second Stanley Cup Final with a 6-0 rout over the Dallas Stars, who had extended the Western Conference Final to six games after losing the first three.

    William Carrier, Keegan Kolesar and Michael Amadio each had a goal and an assist for the Knights, and Jonathan Marchessault had a goal. Carrier, Marschessault and Karlsson were all part of the inaugural 2017-18 Knights season that ended in their Cup Final.

    Adin Hill stopped 23 shots for his second career playoff shutout – both against the Stars. The other was 4-0 in Game 3 last Tuesday, when the Knights were already within one win of clinching the series before Dallas overcame 1-0 and 2-1 deficits in both Games 4 and 5.

    Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final against Florida will be Saturday night in Las Vegas.

    Vegas led the Western Conference in the regular season with 51 wins and 111 points. The Panthers completed a four-game sweep of Carolina in the East final last Wednesday, but their 40 wins and 92 points in the regular season were the fewest among the 16 teams that began these NHL playoffs.

    Instead of having to face a do-or-die Game 7 at home against the Stars, coach Bruce Cassidy and the Knights got off to another fast start and never left any doubt about the outcome of this series that included three overtime games.

    It was the most lopsided playoff loss for the Stars since the franchise moved south from Minnesota before the 1993-94 season.

    “You just expect more from yourself in a game like this,” said Stars forward Joe Pavelski, the 38-year-old veteran still without a Stanley Cup after 17 seasons.

    The Stars got captain Jamie Benn back after his two-game suspension for a cross-check to the neck area of Vegas captain Mark Stone early in Game 3. But Benn already had a minus-2 rating without a shot after playing only 3:46 in the first period, and finished minus-2 with only one shot his 12 1/2 minutes on the ice.

    Vegas led for good when Carrier scored 3:41 into the game after a puck poked from behind the net in the vicinity of three Dallas players. Carrier skated across the front of the crease and put a backhander in the net, the ninth time this postseason the Knights scored in the first five minutes of a game.

    Karlsson’s power-play goal came midway through the first period made it 2-0, and after a penalty that likely had prevented him from scoring.

    Nicolas Roy took a shot that deflected off Jake Oettinger’s glove and popped up in the air behind the goalie. Karlsson was charging into the crease when Stars defenseman Esa Lindell raised his stick and swatted the puck out of play, drawing a delay of game penalty.

    With the man advantage, Reilly Smith took a shot from the circle to the left, which was deflected in front by Roy and then off Oettinger’s extended skate before Karlsson knocked in the rebound.

    After Kolesar made it 3-0 in the first, and Marchessault scored his ninth goal in the second, Karlsson’s franchise record 10th goal for a playoff series extended the lead to 5-0 only two minutes into the third period.

    Oettinger had been 3-0 when the Stars were facing elimination this postseason, including Game 7 in the second round against Seattle before stopping 64 of 68 shots the past two games against the Knights.

    That was after Vegas had scored three goals on five shots in the first 7:10 to chase him from Game 3, which was the only lopsided game in the series until the finale. Two of their three regular season game went to shootouts.

    Dallas was only the fifth team to force a Game 6 in an conference final or NHL semifinal after being down 0-3, and the first since the Stars lost to Detroit in a sixth game in 2008. Only two teams got to a Game 7, which both lost – the New York Islanders to Philadelphia in 1975; and the New York Rangers to Boston in 1939.

    Vegas avoided a Game 7 at home against the Stars and coach Peter DeBoer, who is 7-0 in such do-or-die games, including the Seattle series finale two weeks ago. DeBoer was the Vegas coach for its only Game 7 wins – in the second round in 2020 against Vancouver and 2021 in the first round against Minnesota. But he was fired by the Golden Knights after they missed the playoffs last season for the only time in their short existence.

    Dellandrea scores twice in 3rd, Stars stay alive with 4-2 victory over Golden Knights

    Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

    LAS VEGAS — With Dallas’ season on the line, the Stars got two critical goals from a player who was a healthy scratch the first two games of the Western Conference Final.

    Ty Dellandrea‘s goals came within a 1:27 span midway through the third period, and the Stars beat the Vegas Golden Knights 4-2 to keep alive their hopes of advancing to the Stanley Cup Final to face the Florida Panthers.

    “He’s one of the best guys I’ve ever played with,” said Stars goalie Jake Oettinger, who made 27 saves. “He deserves every opportunity he gets, and there’s no one happier for him than the guys in this room. It shows how special you are when you get taken out. He didn’t make it about him. He needed the opportunity to step up, and that’s what he did.”

    The Stars escaped elimination for the second game in a row and head to Dallas for Game 6 down 3-2. Dallas is attempting to become the fifth team in NHL history to win a series after being down 3-0.

    And look who’s back for the Stars? Captain Jamie Benn returns after a two-game suspension for his cross-check to the neck of Vegas captain Mark Stone in Game 3. That was the only game in this series that was decided early, and the Stars hadn’t even had a multigoal lead.

    “I know our group, and we weren’t happy about being in the hole we were in, and they decided to do something about it,” Stars coach Pete DeBoer said. “And now we’re rolling.”

    The only problem for DeBoer was waiting two days to play Game 6.

    “Drop the puck,” he said.

    DeBoer said before the game if his team won, the pressure would shift to the Knights. Now it’s up to them to respond after twice being a period away from playing in the Stanley Cup Final and letting both opportunities slip away.

    “I don’t think we brought our best the last two games,” Stone said. “We were still in a good spot to win the game. We’ve got to bring a little bit better effort and start playing a little more desperate.”

    Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy said “it’s a very good question” why his team didn’t play with more desperation, but he also wasn’t thrilled with the Knights’ execution.

    “We had 24 giveaways,” Cassidy said. “I’m not sure you’re beating the Arizona Coyotes in January with 24 giveaways. That’s no disrespect to Arizona, but it’s not the right way to play.”

    Dellandrea found the right way to play and put together the first multigoal playoff game of his career. Jason Robertson and Luke Glendening also scored, and Thomas Harley had two assists.

    Chandler Stephenson and Ivan Barbashev scored for the Knights, and Jonathan Marchessault had two assists to extend his points streak to four games. Adin Hill made 30 saves.

    Dellandrea scored from the right circle to put Dallas ahead, the puck deflecting off Vegas defenseman Alex Pietrangelo with 9:25 left for a 3-2 lead. Then, Dellandrea scored from the slot with 7:58 remaining.

    Dellandrea said the older players kept him motivated when he was temporarily sidelined.

    “There’s no denying it’s hard,” he said. “I’m thankful for a good group of character guys, and you’ve just got to stay ready.”

    The teams traded goals in the first two periods.

    Jack Eichel battled two Stars players for the puck in Vegas’ offensive zone, and then Barbashev swooped in and made a fantastic move to glide past Oettinger and score with 6:24 left in the first period. The Stars wasted little time in answering when Glendening scored on a deflection less than two minutes later.

    Dallas was robbed of what looked like a sure goal when Hill snagged a point-blank shot from Roope Hintz, who then threw his back in disbelief.

    Like in the first period, the Knights had a goal in the second quickly answered by one from the Stars. Stephenson scored from the left circle at 16:40 of the period, and Robertson knocked his own rebounds 2:09 later to make it 2-2. Stephenson tied the Knights’ record with his eight playoff goal this year, and Robertson had his fifth of the series.

    Sabres sign Minnesota defenseman Ryan Johnston to 2-year rookie contract

    Getty Images

    BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Buffalo Sabres ended a lengthy wait by signing Ryan Johnston to a two-year, entry level contract more than a month after the defenseman completed his senior college season at Minnesota.

    Johnston will report immediately to the Sabres’ American Hockey League affiliate in Rochester, whose best-of-seven Eastern Conference final playoff series against Hershey is tied at 1.

    From Southern California, Johnston is listed at 6-feet and 170 pounds and was selected 31st in 2019 draft.

    His puck-moving skills fit Buffalo’s style of play, Johnston finished his college career with nine goals and 59 points in 143 career games, including four goals and 18 points in 40 games this year. He reached the NCAA’s Frozen Four in each of his final two seasons, with the Gophers losing in the semifinals last year, followed by a 3-2 overtime loss to Quinnipiac in the championship game last month.

    He also had a goal and three assists in seven games representing the U.S. team that won gold at the 2021 world junior championships.

    Johnston, who turns 22 in July, had the option to wait until August when he would’ve become an unrestricted free agent and eligible to sign with any team. Because Johnston was first-round pick, the Sabres would’ve been compensated with a 2024 second-round selection had he signed elsewhere.

    Both sides are banking on the player’s age and college experience to enable Johnston to make the jump to the NHL within the next two seasons. The Sabres will still control Johnston’s rights as a restricted free agent once his entry-level contract expires.