The New York Rangers improved lineup has fans talking playoffs and one player who has remained a crucial intangible is Jesper Fast.
Quickie, as many of his teammates call him, has been one of the most reliable players on the Rangers. This has been the case not only under head coach David Quinn, but it was also a recurring theme with former Rangers coaches John Tortorella and Alain Vigneault at the helm.
The 27-year-old has the ability to play while in a stealth mode. Unnoticeable on the ice when a player such as Alex Ovechkin skates towards the Rangers goal, he is able to limit the scoring opportunities.
He is even more valuable as the team’s top penalty killer. Fast gained valuable skills playing along former Ranger Marian Gaborik in this capacity a few years ago. The two formed a tandem that not only killed off penalties, but was also able to create shorthanded opportunities.
This offensive threat carried over to the offensive game that saw him play beyond his means. He’s seen time on the top line, mostly when Vigneault was behind the bench. Not known for his scoring touch, he tends to score the big goal at the most important moments in a game.
The Nassjo, Sweden native scored just six goals with 20 points in 66 games during the 2019-20 season.
Now, the winger is in some unfamiliar territory. The team has grown with free-agent signings and new players that should all help the club rebound from results of previous seasons. Fast will excel here as he helps tutor the younger players.
His experience, along with his strong character, will be needed to help the newer Blueshirts get through a full season while winning games. The pressure is on Fast to help with the transition from minor hockey league’s such as the AHL and OHL to the unpredictable NHL and its long schedule.
Fast is the best option to help bring these kids along while continuing to play his game.
As he enters the final year of his contract Fast will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. Unlike other players who have been in this situation, there is a great chance that he could re-sign with the team with a two or three-year deal. This would allow him another opportunity to raise the elusive Stanley Cup.
A Players player
Fast has been a warrior for the team since he made his debut in October 2013. He has been known to play through pain and injury, most recently last season when he injured his thumb and tore ligaments in January.
Putting the pain aside he played for two more months, on a team that had no chance to make the postseason, until March 8 when the club announced that he would be out for the remainder of the season.
In 2017, Fast had surgery for a labral repair of his left hip. The forward missed just two weeks at the beginning of the regular season totaling five games, making his season debut on Oct 14.
He won the Rangers Players’ Player Award last season, which is voted on by his teammates, for the fourth-straight season. A feat only accomplished by two others, Brian Leetch and Jean Ratelle.
Players such as Jesper Fast are a necessity for every team. His value goes beyond goals and assists. The player himself is what the team needs to succeed. His work ethic and personality on and off the ice is what drives him to be the player he and the team needs.