Report: Canucks sign OHL leading scorer Dane Fox

Could Dane Fox be a sly signing for the Canucks?
Image via CKSN

According to the Erie Otters’ forward’s sister, OHL leading scorer and undrafted free-agent Dane Fox has agreed to an entry-level contract with the Vancouver Canucks:

The team hasn’t confirmed their latest acquisition yet, but as we learned when Derek Joslin’s sister broke the news of the defenseman signing with the team in the summer of 2012, siblings usually know their stuff.

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Read past the jump.

Dane Fox is a 20-year-old forward currently playing in his fifth Ontario Hockey League season this year. Fox has played for both the London Knights and the Erie Otters during his major junior career, and in promising news has been pretty nearly a point per game player since his age 18 season (though he’s battled injury on occassion). Fox has been passed over multiple times at the draft, however, and has attended prospect camps with the St. Louis Blues and the New York Rangers without earning a contract.

But persistence pays off sometimes, kids. This season Fox has had a breakout campaign while flanking 16-year-old all-universe prospect Connor McDavid and Toronto Maple Leafs prospect, speedster Connor Brown. It’s safe to say that Fox’s offensive production has exploded as the six foot, 180 pound forward has managed 41 goals in 35 games as an overager for Erie. Obviously that’s an impressive total, even for an overager, and it puts Fox atop the OHL goal scoring leaderboard.

I’ve watched Erie play a small handful of games this season including once in person and my general impression has been that the 20-year-old forward is not exactly doing the heavy-lifting on his line with McDavid and Brown (more recently Fox has played with fellow Canucks prospect Brendan Gaunce). But whatever, Fox has decent speed, NHL size and is solidly skilled. He’s a decent gamble to evolve into a useful organizational asset for an undrafted overager (so he remains a massive long-shot to make an impact at the NHL level). 

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The Canucks have a pretty good track record with signing undrafted free-agents (Eddie Lack, Chris Tanev, hell even Darren Archibald has improved his skating and morphed into a capable professional). So Fox will look to follow in their footsteps, and anyway is a relatively intriguing addition to the lower end of the team’s prospect pool. 

UPDATE: Here’s what our pal Corey Pronman’s had to say about Fox ahead of the 2012 NHL draft (the first draft at which Fox was passed over): 

Fox had a decent OHL season for a late birthdate draft prospect, as he produced for both teams he lined up for. Offense likely won’t be Fox’s output to a notable degree in the pro game, though, as looks more like a defensive forward with great agitating qualities and good on-ice intangibles. He’s a fine skater who will be able to keep up with the average pro and has a real good engine that churns his legs as he’ll cover a lot of ice on any given shift. While his projection seems more like a third line type of player, Fox will show flashes of offensive skill, be it with slightly above-average hands or distribution skill, and I could see if his development goes well him spotting on scoring lines here and there. The rare hustle and heart type of player who his coach has used on the point for the power play and of course he gets PK minutes as well in which he shows his defensive effectiveness. Fox can get a little over the top at times with his agitating, but overall has managed to keep his penalty minutes in check.

In my limited viewings I haven’t seen that agitator side of Fox emerge to the extent described by Pronman there. But, hey, there’s always room in my organization for a potential fourth-line penalty-killer and jerkpuck practitioner who can skate…

  • elvis15

    Those are crazy numbers but he is older so who knows. Maybe he’ll top out as a line 2 guy? Sounds like he’s more of a line 3, two way forward. As usual with any prospect, wait and see. Nice to see Gillis making efforts…although I think various Canucks were bombed by tweets to have someone look at Fox. That doesn’t instill a lot of confidence in Gillis!

  • It’s not exactly Mitch Holmberg-level production, but at least Corey Pronman’s scouting report seems to indicate Fox brings more stuff to the table other than just goals. If he does have a well-rounded game and was only left undrafted in the past due to “personal issues,” then maybe, maybe he has bottom-6 upside.

    Most likely though is that he’s a career AHL’er or something like that. Regardless, it’s a nice bet to make given that they had to sacrifice Polasek to do it.

  • Marsh

    If he was at a Rangers’ camp and released, presumably Tortorella has seen him and passed on him. So what has changed?

    Still, obviously, AHL Utica could use some better players so he’s worth a shot.

    • Um, he is 2 years older by the time camp rolls around next summer?

      He went to the Rangers development camp in June 2012. A couple of years can do wonders for a kid who might be a bit behind the curve physically.

      Besides, by your logic, Gillis should have dumped Higgins when he signed Torts as the new coach…

    • elvis15

      A little behind on the comments, but he suffered an ankle injury in the camp with the Rangers. That likely prevented them from getting a good look at him and he wasn’t signed as a result.

      Certainly, time passing has helped his stock as much if not more now that he’s tearing it up in his overage season. If he was just a scorer I wouldn’t put his NHL chances very high, but since he’s compared his style of play to a guy like Dave Bolland that does help and speak to his versatility.

    • I like it too. Worst case scenario, he flames out of development camp next summer.

      So what, it cost the Canucks the equivalent of the beer sales from one period of one regular season game at Rogers Arena? Its a low risk bet.

  • A definite lottery pick, and an equally definite upgrade from the recently released Polasek. He could be anywhere from AHL star, to fourth-line agitator to second line scorer. That has about the same chance of happening as Tanev going from not making a midget team to getting into Rochester to getting signed to being on the top pairing. Oh wait.

  • andyg

    Part of developing young talent is having a winning minor league team for them to play in. Not to say that he has no chance to make the NHL but Gillis has 2 teams to supply talent for.

      • andyg

        Hopefully the Utica Comets are the Abbotsford Comets next year. As an Abbotsford resident, having an AHL team lose money hand over fist but take taxpayer money to break even, our current situation sucks.

        Dear Francesco, Having the Canucks AHL team in the Fraser Valley would pay off financially from day one.

        • elvis15

          You don’t need to tell Aquilini, it’s the Flames that need convincing. We tried to reach an agreement with that this year but they wanted too much for the privilege of handing over the rights.

          It’ll be harder now to make the change, with fans in both cities already having Heat or Comets jerseys, but will still make sense to sign off on if the Flames will play ball.

        • elvis15

          Oh you’re from Abbotsford…sorry about that. Money has to exchange organizations, and with Burke at the helm in Calgary I wouldn’t hold my breath. I’m on the Island, compared to the Salmon Kings I think an AHL team would rock here. The mainland makes more sense though. I’m just happy Major Junior came back.

          PS Just kidding with the Abbotsford barb. I’ve got plenty as one of my best friends out here is from there. Cheers.

    • elvis15

      The rumour is other teams were starting to have serious interest in courting him, so the Canucks beat the rush. I can’t find the tweet I saw that from, but that was the gist.

  • elvis15

    I think it’s a solid move. You can’t ignore a guy with those numbers. Very, very low risk and maybe high reward signing. Gillis does some things right but I would still like to see him go…

    The Canucks really don’t have many pure snipers or goal scorers. Maybe Fox is one of those guys. Hopefully Shinkaruk is also one of those. We’re really lacking a game breaker. Maybe Horvat.

    I was hoping the Canucks got their hands on Nichushkin (?) or Mantha in last year’s draft. Those guys have serious hands!