Jesper Fast will be a top option for the Las Vegas Golden Knights come June 21st. While losing him would be a hit to the New York Rangers forward group, his replacement could very well be in Hartford.
The New York Rangers have less than a month to put their pre-expansion draft plan into action. The draft will feature the league’s 31st team, the Las Vegas Golden Knights, selecting a player from each of the leagues current 30 teams.
New York is in danger of losing one of three stellar depth forwards in the draft. Michael Grabner, Oscar Lindberg and Jesper Fast are all guys who will likely be left unprotected unless the team makes some series shifts to their roster beforehand–namely trading a Rick Nash or Derek Stepan.
The Rangers can’t afford to lose Grabner. Even though he will likely never score 27 goals again, his speed is so dynamic that he is always going to find his chances. Oscar Lindberg is as good a two-way, fourth line center as they come and has shown he has some playoff chops. Jesper Fast has been great here for a few years now and is as hard a worker as they come.
The Rangers must do anything and everything they can to make sure their forward group is left alone. This means even throwing the Golden Knights a draft pick/prospects to take Nick Holden like my co-editor Brandon Cohen suggested earlier this week.
But if Vegas is gonna take one of these three, if you’re the Rangers, you better hope it’s Fast.
Cause they have a guy in Hartford who might be able to fill his role pretty well.
Don’t be Scared of ‘Boo’
Cristoval ‘Boo’ Nieves, the Syracuse native, was drafted by the Rangers in 2012. He went to the University of Michigan for four years before playing the final eight games of the Wolf Pack’s 15-16 season.
In 40 games in Hartford last year, Nieves notched six goals and 12 assists. Nieves is an energy player who, at 6′ 3″, 219 lbs, is big enough to impose his will on the opposition. He is very hard working and fights to get to the dirty areas of the ice just like Fast does.
Nieves was great this past preseason with the Rangers and would’ve made the team if it wasn’t so deep on the wing. He made his NHL debut on November 15th against the Vancouver Canucks and played a very solid game. In nearly 12 minutes of ice time, Nieves brought a lot of energy to the fourth line. It is worth noting that Nieves played center in this game and not on the wing.
Nieves was drafted to be a playmaker on the second or third line, and even though the organization no longer believes he would be a great fit in that role, a fourth line role with the big club in 17-18 could be a nice fit for the 23-year-old.
Hopefully, it won’t come to this for the Rangers, but if Fast is selected in the expansion draft, the Rangers shouldn’t be scared as long as they have ‘Boo.’