Archive for Jesper Fast
Last week, I went through the bottom half of the New York Rangers 2016 Top 25 Under 25. The bottom half had a lot of turnover, as the 2016 draft was an early success for the Rangers that warranted some shifting in the rankings. Couple that with four players who were ranked last year that are no longer with the organization, and you have a refreshed system that is something to get excited about.
Let’s remember that there are a good number of players on the NHL roster that are under 25 years old, so the top half of this list is mostly populated with them. There was a shift in the rankings for some of these kids though, as we’ve learned what each one is capable of in the lineup.
It’s the true dog days of the hockey season (I feel like I have written that a few times already this summer). Let’s jump into a mainly Rangers musings post but sprinkle in a little league wide news.
I really like the Nathan Gerbe signing. He’s ridiculously small but in today’s league that has never been less of a problem. He can skate, he can kill penalties and in the right situation with the right linemates I feel like he’ll help deepen the Rangers line-up offensively. At 600k there is no downside. The best part of the Gerbe (and Grabner) signings is that I finally feel like the Rangers management get it. They need to get back to being a speed orientated, mobile team. Gerbe and Grabner really help in this respect.
Via Yahoo’s Puck Daddy blog, yet another example why everyone loves: Henrik Lundqvist
Debate for the day: we all want Jimmy Vesey but do the Rangers need him? And where does he fit?
Per Steve Zipay, Henrik Lundqvist has been named Team MVP, as voted on by the media. This comes as no surprise, as without Lundqvist this team might not even be in the playoffs this season. This was honestly a no-brainer.
Jesper Fast was named the Player’s Player, voted on by his teammates. I think this means a lot more than people realize. It shows Fast is respected on the ice for the roles he’s been given, and he’s likely a positive influence in the locker room. Not bad for a sixth round pick, acquired by the Rangers for a busted first round pick in Bobby Sanguinetti.
Give good players time and you will be rewarded. Mats Zuccarello had to fight off traditional hockey stereotypes, climb up the Rangers cluttered depth chart and fight his way into a prominent position over a long period of time but Zuccarello eventually became one of the Rangers most reliable and cost effective players. Zuccarello’s contract is looking better every game and it’s worth looking into the value again because right now, there are few better value deals around the league.
Zuccarello is likely going to lead the Rangers in scoring for the second time in three years by season’s end. Over the past three years (going on numbers after the loss to the Red Wings) Zuccarello is averaging around 54 points per season and this is with 14 games of the current season to go.
Zuccarello is of course, in the first year of his new deal that pays him 4.5m per season. Prior to this season Zuccarello had bagged 142 points in 222 regular season games for an average of .63 points/game. This season he’s scoring at a .77 clip; a pretty significant increase.
Some quick updates today on the injury front:
- Jesper Fast did not travel with the team to Pittsburgh. Instead of using Dylan McIlrath at forward again, which was a miserable experiment, the Rangers will make an emergency recall before the game. The recall will not count against the cap of four recalls allowed following the trade deadline.
- Rick Nash is improving, and Alain Vigneault expects the winger back with the team within the next 10-12 days.
Some quick injury updates as we await the game tonight in Dallas (or deadline moves):
- Rick Nash had another MRI, and is about 7-10 days from skating again. Alain Vigneault said that bone injuries take anywhere from 4-8 weeks, so Nash could still be out a while after being downgraded to week-to-week. Nash has been out since the beginning of the month, and 4-8 weeks slots his return in the middle-end of March.
- Jesper Fast took a puck to the face in practice, breaking his nose and a few teeth. He is expected to play tomorrow, but Dylan McIlrath will play forward if Fast can’t go.
All is quiet in Rangerland right now. The Rangers never let their trades leak early, and while I don’t expect anything to come until Sunday at the earliest, never say never. It appears to be a foregone conclusion that they will make a move though.
Update: Fast will play tonight. McIlrath is the healthy scratch.
Two questions for the mailbag this week. As always, submit your questions via the widget on the right, and we will answer them on a weekly basis.
Ray observes: This is more of an observation about the penalty kill than a question. So I’m going to put the full email from Ray below, it’s superb analysis.
I looked up some surprisingly hard to find numbers and did some calculations that might be of interest. I found my starting numbers on War-on-Ice. The stat is simple enough — TOI/GA (time-on-ice per goals against), so one is rating defenders by the simple metric of how well they keep the puck out of the net. High numbers are good.
I list all Rangers with at least 10 minutes of PK time and asterisk those with < 50 minutes.
After a tough loss against Vancouver, the Rangers continue their west coast trip tonight in Edmonton. Between late games and a somewhat erratic, feast or famine schedule, I have some scattered thoughts…
1) Can you believe we are past the 1/3 mark of the season already? I am of the mind set that the first third is for evaluating your systems and personnel, the second third is for making adjustments and the final third is for making that push toward the playoffs. Injuries to Kevin Klein and Derek Stepan have thrown something of a wrench into that plan.
2) Speaking of those injuries, they have really wrecked havoc on AV’s deployment and line management. I understanding you are without one of your top-six centers and top-4 defensemen. That would be a serious issue for any contending team. The concern I have is that it seems like AV is putting a greater focus on trying to find lightning in a bottle with his line combo’s than he is trying to find a reliable balance.
The Rangers have now past the ten game mark of the new season, and will be taking on the cellar-dwelling Toronto Maple Leafs tonight at Madison Square Garden in search of a 7-2-2 start. There has been much to analyze in the early going, so naturally I have some thoughts…
1. Mainstream media analysis, especially in the early goings of a season, is especially broad. Good starts, slow starts and unexpected performers litter the narrative landscape. Reading publications like The Hockey News or ESPN, the assumption is that the Canadiens are invincible and the Ducks and Blue Jackets are toast. You dig a little deeper into the individual teams and you find that each club has it own sources of consternation and optimism.
In case you missed it, and I’m pretty sure you haven’t, the Rangers have inserted Tanner Glass back to the fourth line. In the process, Jesper Fast has been scratched from the lineup. It’s October, so it’s not worth panicking yet (as I mentioned this morning), but this is a bit of an alarming move.
The Rangers need a solid fourth line to compete for a Stanley Cup this year. Scoring and skating depth throughout the lineup is critical, as is a fourth line that can eat up defensive zone starts. The Rangers had this in 2013-2014, and rode that roster construction all the way to the Stanley Cup Final.
The Rangers did not have that last year. The scoring suffered. The defense suffered. And while injuries certainly played a role in their seven game loss to the Lightning, the roster was not constructed to give the Rangers their best chance at winning.