When Chris Kreider went down with his hand injury, the Rangers were left with a problem in their top-six forwards. There were few options to fill in for Kreider, and none that could provide the scoring threat that Kreider provides on a nightly basis. Dan Carcillo has been a pleasant surprise, and Jesper Fast has held his own in his call up this week. Since J.T. Miller is not ready to take on this role, it comes down to Fast or Carcillo.
Acquired for a 7th round pick, Carcillo has been one of those pickups that went under the radar but reaped many rewards for the Rangers. Originally thought to be redundant with Arron Asham in Hartford, Carcillo has fit in nicely with the fourth line. The fourth line continued chugging along with Carcillo in for the then-injured Derek Dorsett. Once Dorsett returned, Carcillo bounced around the lineup, most recently filling in for Kreider on both the top line and second line.
Carcillo does not give you much scoring potential. That much we know. But this matchup with the Flyers is likely to be a bloodbath. Carcillo has been shown to be willing and able to defend his teammates in battle, something the Rangers sorely lack in the lineup. While that skill may not put goals on the scoreboard, it may act as a deterrent for guys like Wayne Simmonds or Zac Rinaldo.
This team is not touching the fourth line of Dorsett, Brian Boyle, and Dom Moore. So Carcillo’s role would need to be in the top-six. But therein lies the problem: As much as the Rangers need the additional muscle, the empty spot in the lineup is a scoring role. Carcillo simply doesn’t have the offensive touch to be an effective player in that role. The spot is for someone who can put the puck in the net.
Jesper Fast on the other hand, is a solid two-way player who has proven to be able to put the puck in the net. He put up a line of 17-17-34 in 48 games with Hartford. He put up 18-17-35 in the SHL last season. He can score. But he’s not exactly an intimidating force in the lineup.
Fast is the type of player that fits what the Rangers need in the lineup while Kreider heals. He certainly will not hurt the team defensively, and he has that scoring punch the team could use. The problem is that he is a bit wet behind the ears. He’s still adjusting to the North American game, and a lack of playoff experience might hurt him.
As long as Kreider remains injured, the Rangers will need to decide between Carcillo and Fast to round out the lineup. Both bring different games to the table, but in the end it will be a combination of the type of series played and the performance of each player that will decide who dresses. If this series takes a turn towards ugly, expect Carcillo to get some time. If the series is hard-fought but clean, expect Fast to dress.