2019 Rangers Player Report Card: Jesper Fast

Utility man extraordinaire, Jesper Fast is one of those bottom-six guys that can play up in the lineup when needed. He’s a very smart player who is usually in the right place at the right time. He’s the type of player that teammates love, which is why has been the recipient of the Rangers Player’s Player award for four years in a row.

When it comes to scoring, Fast’s tool set really limits him since he doesn’t really have the hands to be a scorer, but that doesn’t stop him from contributing. He played a good portion of this year injured, thus had a bit of an off-year with a line of 8-12-20 in 66 games. He seems to alternate 30 point seasons with 20 point seasons though.

Proponents of Fast, including myself, usually point to his defensive play to show his value. It’s the stuff that rarely shows up on the score sheet, but luckily nowadays we have quantifiable numbers to show defensive aptitude. Fast’s xGF%, despite his lack of offense, was still 5th on the club (3rd without Zuccarello/Hayes) at 48.71%. For just 20 points, that’s a very good number, and when broken down into the offensive (xGF/60) and defensive (xGA/60) stats, it really shows how good Fast is without the puck. His xGF/60 was just 2.27 (13th, 11th without Hayes/Zucc), but his 2.39 xGA/60 was good for 5th (3rd without Hayes/Zucc). Considering Fast’s usual role as a defensive player and how bad this team was, that is pretty impressive. The stats match the eyes, interesting concept.

Taking this a step further to look at his defensive impact, let’s look at my favorite: shot heatmaps!

With Fast on the ice, the Rangers are actually around league average at limiting threats! The +3% threat level is 3% above league average, meaning Fast contributes a great deal to limiting shot quality and quantity against. Context matters here, and let’s remember that the Rangers are awful defensively for the most part (notice that red spot in front of the net and by the right circle almost never goes away). But Fast has turned that entire left circle blue. Still some trouble areas in the high slot though.

Meanwhile without Fast is a tire fire. While one player does not make a team defensively excellent while on the ice, Fast is certainly a positive player in this regard.

Worth noting that offensively, Fast doesn’t move the needle much. The Rangers are 2% under league average threat level when Fast is on the ice and the same when off the ice. There wasn’t much to look at there, so I left it out. If you want to check it out, go to

Now the interesting thing here is that while Fast excels at even strength defense, it may necessarily translate to the penalty kill, or at least not in the ways we have available to evaluate today. (There are a lot of variables that go into the below heat maps, and I’m doing the best I can with logical guess work).

With Fast on the ice when a man down, the usual problem areas exist. Basically right in front and on the right side of the net mouth. As a forward, he’s usually tasked with coverage up top, which is the green area at below league average. So that’s good. My guess is that, given the location of the purple shifting and what we know about defensemen/forward positioning on the penalty kill, Fast was deployed mostly with Marc Staal and Neal Pionk, who were bad and gave up goals down low on the PK on the regular. Based on the below, I’m actually close to right, with some Brady Skjei sprinkled in.

So my initial guess is right? I’m going with that.

Meanwhile without Fast on the ice, the threat level remains the same, but the colors shift a bit. The high slot area gets more purple and some of the purple in front disappears. Logical guess work leads me to believe that with different defensemen on the ice, the Swiss cheese down low isn’t available, and with less able defensive minds up top, more shots come from up there.

So with Fast we have a guy who doesn’t move the needle offensively, but is one of the better players on the team defensively. To be able to put up surprisingly decent numbers on this tire fire of a team is impressive. Fast is one of those guys who complements others quite well by doing the dirty work and can really bring a line up defensively, and it showed this year.

Grade: B+

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  • Fast is also one of the best “along the boards” player we have.

    The grade is warranted for what he does, and what is expected of him.

    • I guess you do not expect much from him. I guess we are grading on a curve. Sympathy grade? Anchors away my friend.

      • Of course I wish he would score more, but he’s a 4th line player, no matter how many Ranger coaches try to make him something that he’s not.

        Your obsession with Fast is curious because he’s not that important a player, including cap wise, in the grand scheme of things.

        • Then why does mostly everyone defend him so. His offensive disabilities creates problems for other players who wants to and is expected to score. Just like Tanner Glass
          Its like I am telling people the word is round and people are denying it. I am also obsessed with the stupid coach unfortunately.
          Game after game Tanner Fast produced nothing and people don’t care because they are in love with an illusion. I have a problem with that.
          Do you have a problem with my obsessions?
          It might be some people don’t like the way I say things, not what i say. I don’t know.

          • I don’t care either way what you think or say, you’re free to do whatever.

            My “defense” of him is to play him on the 4th line, where belongs, and allow him to do what he does best, and that is to defend and grind along the boards. It’s as simple as that.

            Your “picking on” a 4th line player, who’s impact on the success of the club is minimal, is just curious to me, like he stole your lunch money or something. It almost sounds personal, lol.

  • Fast is the Jack of all trades, who does everything well, but not great. As a fourth line guy, and PK man, he excels. As a scoring forward, well what can you say other than he tries his heart out, but still comes up short. I believe that this will be Fast’s last season playing on any line other than the 4th!

    On a side note, last night down 3-1, Carolina fought back, and won it in OT. Congratulations to Rod, and his team, great job by all except Doug Hamilton. That dude doesn’t like contact at all. Anytime he saw Ovie coming his way, he would stop dead in his tracks, and let him get to the puck unchallenged. Such a display of cowardliness on his part, you can keep Alice!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Fast is fine if he plays as a 4th liner and moving up only when there is no choice because of injury or penalties. He works and that is why his teammates and coaches respect him.

      Meanwhile, the playoffs have gone exactly like I did not anticipate in virtually every series! I am convinced that I know nothing about hockey!

  • Jesper is a bottom 6 forward who gets a bad rap because of his flexibility. If they keep him on the bottom 6, he is an A player for that role. Because they play him up, we tend to get annoyed at his first line play. Our angst should be against the coach and not the versatile player.

    • No one gets a bad wrap on being flexible. I flex my mind and people hate me. Remember I am entertainment. Yes, angst against the coach is apropos. Now that we are on the same side, you will now see you are wrong.

  • I know you all hate my point of view. Thats OK! Showing how good Fast is, is like drawing blood from a stone. Just kidding, but not totally. Some of you see that Fast should be on the 4th line but the smart coach thought a defenseman should be playing the 4th line. Don’t start thinking the coach will change his stripes next year! The stats indicate that Jesper is good on defense and he is not so good on offense. What we need to look at who did he play with on the so called defensive line? It was not mayor Pete. It was not the 4th line players. I think he was put on a line with good players, so when we look at the stats we see decent stats and attribute that to Mr Fast. Mr Fast was playing with talented people because we do not have enough right wingers and when Buch was in the dog house old Fast was there dragging down the other players.
    Our offense was stifled by a coach who wanted to teach Buch a lesson. So DQ put an anchor on the top lines and not on a defensive line. We lost lots of 1 point games and I like to point out that is all on the coach. He was an anchor and may have been one because he was hurt. But that is not his problem, it is the coach who played him and put him in a position to hurt the team.
    When you take offensive talent and you put a defensive guy in who is hurt and can’t produce offensively you are hurting the team.
    How can you give a player with 20 points in 66 games who was hurt a B. A C- would be more appropriate, because it wasn’t totally his fault he helped us lose and get a great lottery.
    May the procession of down thumbs begin.

  • He would have had his 30+ points if not for the injury, his play offensively did suffer towards the end of HIS season (the last 15-20 games). Aside from the somewhat anemic offensive game though he’s an exemplar of how to play the game — IF he continues playing in NY on a 4th line down the road then that 4th line better get 12+ minutes a night, that will indicate the rebuild is over.

    Despite the above I’m tempted to give him an injury affected B for this season, Dave you’re a generous grader. 😉

      • Your over reliance of hyperbole borders on sheer stupidity at times … other times it’s just downright stupid. You would think that getting overwhelming down votes most of the time would clue you in that your views are rejected by virtually everyone, but no. You think this makes you a resident genius, you’re misunderstood by “normal” folk. Newsflash, genius may be misunderstood and underappreciated by most, but it’s always recognized by at least a substantial minority.

        • Down ward knuckledusters dont like that I am shitting on their golden boy. Notice they are unable to refute me thats why there is no comments. You can’t refute they are shit and so is the opinions that are personal like yours. Genius is funny because no one is. My critique is about hockey yours is about valid opinions. Your problem is not with me but the truth that some suck. If you can’t refute it with math or logic shut up and drag you knuckles.

  • Jesper throws his body around bravely but I think he is breaking down already because of it. Ends every season beaten up. At 27 I think his best years are behind him already.

  • A forth line player who can be moved up in an emergency not being defensively or offensively atrocious is ok.

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