Jesper Fast – Utility man extraordinaire

I think it’s safe to say this. All together now. We were wrong.

It’s not that we were wrong about Jesper Fast and his usefulness, but we were wrong about where he should be in the lineup. For the past few seasons, the perfect world has been Fast on the fourth line. He’s excellent there. But if he were ever in the top-nine, there would be lineup questions abound.

Now Fast is on the top line and has found instant chemistry with Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider. Yet Fast isn’t an elite talent. He’s not at the same skill level as Zibanejad and Kreider. But here we are, talking about how good that line has looked.

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For Fast, it’s about the constant improvement from his rookie year to now. His primary points rate has steadily increased every year, and with that his usage has gone from fourth liner to consistent middle-six presence. His minutes per game has steadily increased from 11 minutes per game to 17 minutes per game, a sign of trust from the coaching staff. Something he’s earned.

Fast’s involvement and progress is not about his elite talent, but his ability to complement any duo on a line. Need someone to go retrieve the puck (basically what he does with Kreider/Buchnevich)? Fast can do it. Need someone to help the cycle and get to the front of the net? Fast can do it.

Fast’s greatest value to the team is his flexibility. It’s what makes the Rangers lineup so fluid, as Fast can be the third to any duo the team has to offer. Certainly makes David Quinn’s job easier, and gives the kids an opportunity to be eased into the lineup. In a rebuild, that’s a best case scenario.

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  • When Zib and Kreider are on your top line and Skjei is on your top pair, average talented players are going to move up in the line up.

    Don’t get me wrong, Fast is a terrific hockey player, just not high;y talented. A true contender would have him tearing up other team’s 4th lines.

    But now, who is he replacing? Zuc? who’s mentally checked out? Names, who turned back into a pumpkin since he’s not playing with Stamkos and Kucherov? Buch, who we can now start the “maybe he wasn’t that good after all” narrative? (I’m extremely disappointed in his play so far).

    Not much to replace, quite honestly. But for Fast himself, I am very happy for him, because he’s a such a “leave it out on the ice” player. Love him to death.

    Young players, HE’s your teacher and mentor on the ice. Take note.

    • Fast with a letter on his jersey sums up his importance.

      Buch only saw 3 shifts in the third period yesterday. I thought only bad coaches would make a move like that 😀

      • LOL, love the come back on the coach my friend. But I’m glad he’s gone and we have someone that’s actually breathing behind the bench. 🙂

        But seriously, Buch is out of excuses now. I certainly expected a lot more from him to start the season. He, Hayes, and Zuc are the poster children of what’s wrong with the team, not the losses or the mistakes of young players.

        • Chytil only played 10 minutes. Wasn’t another coach ripped apart for his usage of Chytil to start last season!

          Haha I’m just playing. I’ve listened for the last 2 years about how awful the coach was. Of course I’m going to rub it in when the new regime makes the same types of personnel decisions!

          But in all seriousness I’m not ready to write Buch off yet. It’s still early on a team that knows it’s not going to win many games. Embrace the rebuild and don’t take these games too seriously!

          • Oh I agree, it’s still early, but there are certain players that you figure would bust out of the gate for the start of the season. Buch and Hayes figured to be front and center.

            But both have been invisible for large portions of games, forget about point production. I want to see impact on the ice and both have produced virtually none so far.

            As for Chytil, isn’t Coach Quinn in charge of his players’ minutes? What is keeping him from giving Chytil a regular shift? That’s what this season is supposed to be all about. Giving playing time to young players.

        • Disagree on Zucc. I think he’s engaged and working hard. I agree on Hayes and Buch, but my biggest question remark remains Chris “Mr. Enigma” Kreider. Been waiting far too long for that man to consistently live up to his physical gifts…

          • I’ve been to 2 games so far (where you see the play away from the puck), and I don’t see the tenacity that you usually see from Zuc. I guess it’s an acceptable effort for an average NHL player, but I don’t have those expectations for Zuc, I have higher expectations.

            As for Kreider, yeah I’m with you. When he came back last year, we all said, “this is the player we think he can be.” And now, back to inconsistent play. I guess he is what he is.

            Meanwhile, the next $7M per player, Kevin Hayes, has 1A and 7 SOG through 5 games at almost 17 minutes per game. His trade value is going down by the game.

          • I wonder how much knowing that this team is going to lose most games is affecting the compete level of these guys. It’s not an excuse but Kreider, Hayes, and Zuke have never played on a team was destined to be bad.

          • 100% true, no doubt about it. They ALL know they’re not going anywhere this year. This “attitude” starts with Dolan and slides all the way down to the trainers. They’re human, and they know from Game 1 that they’re playing for pride.

            Add to that, Hayes and Zuc are as good as gone at the trade deadline, and I think that they know that too. There is nothing for the vets to play for but themselves (HELLO HANK!!). Hank is the only vet playing like there’s no tomorrow. But he will “crack” at some point, we just don’t know when, then it will get really ugly.

            That’s why I wonder why this dog and pony show, by not playing all kids at this point, to see what they have in them. I expect Hayes, Zuc, Smith, Staal, and maybe even Kreider all gone either during this year or by the start of next season.

          • Agree with you on Zuccarello, Hayes and possibly Kreider. I don’t think the Rangers will move on from Smith, I think Quinn likes him and would want to keep him around. Same with Shattenkirk. I think Staal is pretty much untradable at this point, but he’s go to go. I think a sleeper to be traded may Zibenajad.

          • I think anyway is trade bait at this point. Staal will get bought out. Making him the “A” for all games was done for no other reason than to up his trade value. His play is laughable.

            If the Rangers believe that the 3 young centers can do it down the road then Zib could be a goner too, true. They could always get a vet to play the 4th line C.

    • Fast is a busy body out there that fools everyone like he is working hard…..The fact he is on out Top line is a sad state of affairs

  • The narrative that everybody on the team wanted Fast on their line was born of his effort and smarts. He does the little things well and gives it his all. I think his play in pre-season and thus far in the regular season games has been excellent. So no matter where the coach puts him he will make the players around him better.

    I look for Andersson to eventually be the same kind of guy, but with better hands and a little more speed.

  • Maybe this is overthinking, but I wonder if this juggling of the lineup and deployment is a “test” to see who buys in and who doesn’t.

    I ask this because the coach and GM are big on having “the right players” on the team. Just a thought.

    • It’s possible. So far it seems like it’s worked for namestnikov. He’s played well the last 3 games. Hope he keeps that up.

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