ARLINGTON, Va. -- Adam Fox had a pretty normal summer with his parents in his hometown of Jericho, New York, until his friends started going back to college in mid-August.
That was when it began to settle in for Fox that he won't be returning to Harvard for his senior year.
Instead, the 21-year-old defenseman will begin his quest to make the New York Rangers' opening night roster, starting at the 2019 NHL Prospect Tournament at Centre Ice Arena in Traverse City, Michigan, which gets underway Friday.
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"It's definitely an adjustment," Fox said at the 11th annual NHLPA Rookie Showcase last month. "It's a little weird not going back to school, but definitely pretty excited to get going."
A smooth-skating, offensively skilled defenseman, Fox was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, given annually to the top men's player in NCAA Division I hockey, as a junior last season after leading the NCAA with 39 assists and tying for fourth in points with 48. He made the decision to leave Harvard and turn pro after the Carolina Hurricanes traded him to the Rangers for a second-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft and a conditional third-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft on April 30, agreeing to a three-year, entry-level contract two days later.
Fox was selected by the Calgary Flames in the third round (No. 66) of the 2016 NHL Draft. The Hurricanes acquired Fox in a trade June 23, 2018, and after being unable to sign him, granted his wish by trading him to the Rangers, his favorite team when he was growing up.
Now, it's up to Fox to earn a job with New York in training camp.
"That would be awesome," Fox said. "It's obviously a dream of mine to play in the NHL and you work so hard to get to this point and just getting started is pretty exciting, for sure."
A psychology major at Harvard, Fox said he plans to complete the five classes he needs to graduate over the next few offseasons. He put his studies on hold this summer, however, to get ready for his first NHL training camp, working out under the guidance of Rangers strength and conditioning consultant Ben Prentiss in Stamford, Connecticut.
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Fox's size (5-foot-11, 180 pounds) will be a challenge for him in the NHL, and he has concentrated on getting stronger to prepare for that.
"There's a lot of pro guys who are big and fast," he said. "For me, that's one thing I've been working on. I think I see the game pretty well. I have the mental side, but physically is always something you try to work on."
A right-handed shot, Fox can see an open spot on the depth chart behind Jacob Trouba after the Rangers bought out the final two seasons of Kevin Shattenkirk's contract Aug. 1, particularly with restricted free agent Tony DeAngelo remaining unsigned. But Fox is not taking anything for granted.
"For me, I'm just trying to play well," he said. "Obviously, you want to be on the team, you want to be in as big of a role as possible, but you've got to earn that. So, I think for me it's just playing well and trying to bring my style of play and help the team win games."
To prepare for the adjustment to the pro game, Fox sought advice from fellow Harvard alumni such as forward Jimmy Vesey, who was traded by the Rangers to the Buffalo Sabres on July 1, and center Alexander Kerfoot of the Toronto Maple Leafs. There might be some pressure on Fox to succeed because he pushed the Hurricanes to trade him to the Rangers or risk losing him as an unrestricted free agent after this season, but he doesn't view it that way.
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In fact, Fox believes he might be able to fly under the radar a little at the Traverse City tournament and in training camp because of the interest in New York rookie forwards Kaapo Kakko, the No. 2 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, and Vitali Kravtsov, the No. 9 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft.
"For sure, I don't mind having (Kakko) and Kravtsov get that attention away," Fox said. "I'm not really one to go out looking for much attention."
Fox wants his focus to be on hockey and learning as much as he can in the coming weeks, but this fall he'll be doing it on the ice instead of inside a Harvard lecture hall.
"A lot of guys say it, but just kind of be a sponge," Fox said. "It's kind of the same thing when you're going to the development camps and training camp. There are a lot of guys with a lot more experience who have kind of been through the wringer of an NHL season and of a training camp. So, I think just going there with an open mind and kind of listen."