How the New York Rangers should internally replace Jesper Fast

Jesper Fast of the New York Rangers takes the puck (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Jesper Fast of the New York Rangers takes the puck (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /
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With the  New York Rangers looking to play meaningful hockey–whenever playing resumes–for the foreseeable future, management has some tough decisions for the sake of the club’s present and future.

The New York Rangers, in a weird way, went all-in at the deadline. By not trading Chris Kreider at the deadline for what would have been a bounty, management declared they’re thinking now about the short-term instead of the long-term. Blue Line Station’s Daniel Blanda argues that it was a mistake:

"So, here’s the primary reason the New York Rangers a hundred percent choked this trade deadline: they should have thought with their heads and not their hearts and traded Chris Kreider away. The value for Kreider will never be that high again. Simply put – it was bad business. –Daniel Blanda"

While this article isn’t about Kreider and the Rangers’ deadline decision per se, it is about asset management and how it’s critical in the salary-cap NHL.

And that’s why the Rangers have to let Jesper Fast walk at the end of the season.

Jesper Fast’s coaches haven’t utilized him how they should have.

Fast was a sixth-round pick (157th overall) in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. With this in mind, he’s had himself a fine career so far: 55 goals, 92 assists, and 147 points is nothing to scoff at. He’s won the New York Rangers’ Players’ Player Award four consecutive seasons in a row starting in the 2015-2016 season. Additionally, he’s defensively reliable and possesses those intangibles that coaches and general managers love.

And that’s the problem–Jesper Fast has truly been misused.

This season he’s predominantly played on the second line–yes, you’re reading that correctly–with Artemi Panarin and Ryan Strome. Panarin is one of the elite playmakers in the game, and Strome is almost a point-per-game player this season (59 points in 70 games, though how much of this success is because of Panarin is a conversation for another day).

David Quinn’s questionable-at-best decision to continually employ Fast on the second line isn’t unique. In fact, Jesper Fast has been moved up and down the lineup more times throughout his tenure with the New York Rangers than someone playing Chutes & Ladders.

And that’s the problem. Fast is an amazing fourth line wing, and a very good third line one. But you cannot call yourself a serious Stanley Cup Contender with a second-line right winger who only buries the puck in the back of the net nine times on average per season.

So, it’s time to let him walk after this season, whenever that may be. In the short-term, you may be slightly worse off defensively as a team, but you won’t overpay for a bottom six forward whose best offensive year was 33 points.

Fortunately, the Rangers have several options to replace him.