Here’s an even better idea: make forward Jesper Fast a permanent fixture.
The 23 year-old right-handed shooting forward makes the most of his time on the ice, displaying versatility, flexibility and resolve. In 22 career payoff games, he has seven points and three goals (Career stats: here). Last season, team injuries led to Fast playing consistent top-six minutes and he submitted an admirable body of work under playoff pressure. He can play on any line and plays a sound two-way game (currently T-3rd among NYR forwards in blocked shots), adjusting his defensive play to whatever line-role he’s plugged into. Alain Vigneault loves that kind of flex because it enables him to shift his lines when looking for a spark.
Perhaps most importantly for a young player on a seasoned playoff team, Fast has quickly earned the trust of his head coach. Following the completion of the 2013-14 season, Fast aggressively sought increase his strength and athleticism, adding 10lbs of muscle to his 6′ frame. Vigneault noticed the effort and Fast played in 58 regular season matchups. Following a particularly strong Game 2 in the 2014-15 Conference Semi-Finals against the Washington Capitals AV had high praise for Fast, offering “Every time I see him he is full out and full go. He won’t be perfect…but he always goes on the ice and gives everything that he has.” (SNY)
With value-added roster newcomers Viktor Stalberg, Emerson Etem, rookie standout Oscar Lindberg and a healthy Mats Zuccarello all taking coveted roster spots, Fast’s playing time came into direct competition with that of Tanner Glass. Etem has been in a similar position, but Fast isn’t new to the team and is a proven playoff performer.
He’s also a good luck charm: the Rangers have posted a 47-22-5 record when he has been in the lineup (.669 points percentage). They win more than twice as many games as they lose when he plays.
Jesper Fast should be the biggest beneficiary of Tanner Glass’ demotion by waiver. He delivers immediate positive impact and he has more than earned his minutes.
That’s probably not something Emerson Etem wants to hear.