New York Rangers’ Jesper Fast out Indefinitely–Now What?

Larry Brooks of the NY Post reported today that Jesper Fast is out indefinitely with a separated shoulder. Considering the Trade Deadline is rapidly approaching, what do the Rangers do now?

Jesper Fast’s injury came out of nowhere today for the New York Rangers. His separated shoulder could cause the Rangers to make reactionary moves with today being Trade Deadline Day. New York can look to replace Fast through the deadline, or perhaps use fill-ins from within.

Let’s see what the best course of action is for the Rangers.

Trade Options:

The Rangers can hit the trade market to find a fourth liner. While Jesper Fast will return before the post-season, there remains an open fourth line spot for him when he does. Oscar Lindberg and Jesper Fast own two of the fourth line spots.

However well Brandon Pirri and Matt Puempel play, it appears neither of the two are guaranteed fourth line spots. Despite Pavel Buchnevich being far better than any of the options, the Rangers are not ready to give him a consistent lineup spot.

With that in mind, there is an open spot for an acquired player even after Fast returns. The key when acquiring a fourth liner is to find one that can help in the present and future.

Though the top options on the market exist as pure rentals, the Rangers need players that can help in the future, not only the present. Brendan Smith was a rental, but with the thought of keeping him long term kept in mind.

With this in mind, the Rangers must be out on the likes of Shane Doan, Jarome Iginla, or Patrick Sharp, for examples. Radim Vrbata will likely be too costly, while also serving as a rental.

Potential players the Rangers could acquire that could help for more than only the present include former Ranger Anthony Duclair, Antoine Roussel, or other young players. The likelihood of this happening is low, so odds are the Rangers’ best bet is filling the holes from within.

Internal Options:

While we previously discussed the Rangers not wishing to play Pavel Buchnevich right now, that must change. Buchnevich is averaging the same amount of points per 60 minutes as Chris Kreider, scoring more than plenty of NHL players. He needs time with consistent linemates in a consistent role, and taking over Jesper Fast’s spot allows for that.

Playing Buchnevich in Fast’s role allows for the rookie to develop in an ideal spot that helps the team as well. The Rangers have struggled to score lately, and Buchnevich is a solid scorer. For a fourth line option, Buchnevich brings more than most.

While defense up front may be a concern, New York does not need the fourth line to serve as a defensive line. Each of the other three lines have strong defensive abilities, while the penalty kill owns plenty of options without Fast in the lineup.

We shall see what happens for the rest of the Deadline Day. Perhaps the Rangers will acquire a fourth liner, keeping Buchnevich in the AHL. But as the Deadline winds down and passes, the opinion here is that the internal option is better than the external options.