Managing Expectations: Jesper FastJuly 31, 2014, by
Jesper Fast has acclimatised well to North America despite suffering a few injuries over the past couple seasons. Last year, on a struggling WolfPack team, Fast managed to grab 17 goals and 34 points in his first full year in the AHL. Those totals managed to get him a shot with the Rangers which included 3 games in the playoffs and his first NHL point (an assist). Those totals also showed that his relative offensive explosion the year before in the SEL wasn’t a fluke or a hot streak.
What Fast hasn’t yet done is show that his production in Sweden – and in the AHL – can translate to the NHL. Many fans will see Fast’s cup of coffee with the Rangers, his relative lack of production and the arrival of a slew of depth signings at the NHL level and assume Fast is a prospect in danger of being lost in the shuffle.
What the depth signings suggest is that Fast is not yet ready for full time NHL play and that is probably true. That said, the Rangers haven’t rushed fast nor have they needed to and that’s the right way to treat the young winger. What is also yet to be established however, is what kind of player Fast will be at the NHL level. Will he be an offensive producer or another Hagelin type Swede who excels through his skating ability and work rate?
Fast’s speed, solid size and work rate make him an ideal candidate to be called up mid season as barring a stunning preseason and training camp the Rangers top nine appears a little crowded right now. The likes of Lee Stempniak won’t be a deterrent long term and Martin St Louis isn’t getting any younger either. Then there’s Hagelin himself who is getting more expensive with every season which in theory could see Fast eventually step in and replace Hagelin if Hagelin’s future lies elsewhere.
Fast has time on his side. He is a key part of the WolfPack and will see major minutes on the minor league club which should allow him to develop his offensive game. With several veterans and talented young players in the mix for the ‘Pack, Fast could (should?) have a strong season.
Apparently (according to some in the media) the Rangers don’t have many offensive prospects close to making the big club so a strong season from Fast in the ‘A would be a huge boost to the Rangers as well as to his own hopes long term.
With his talent and with strong, offensive producing potential line mates in the AHL such as Chris Mueller and Oscar Lindberg Fast could flirt with 30 goals as his familiarisation in the AHL continues. Fast may or may not be the focus of Rangers fans right now but he’s definitely a player worth monitoring. With his development influencing not just his own future but those of Carl Hagelin and several other players in the organisation, Fast is an intriguing prospect this coming season."Managing Expectations: Jesper Fast",