As trade deadline chatter heats up, rumors will be abound regarding any pending free agent on a non-playoff team. For the Rangers, Chris Kreider is the top target across the board, but Jesper Fast is a name that has been floating around that provides depth for Cup contenders. He’d be the kind of low risk acquisition that stabilizes the bottom-six of the acquiring team.
Finding teams that need someone like Fast isn’t as easy as we might think. After all, he is a jack-of-all-trades, but true contending teams would view him as a bottom-six forward who can play up as needed, but also have the assets needed to acquire him (2nd round pick?). Cap space shouldn’t be too much of an issue with his $1.85 million cap hit, but the Rangers will be able to retain 50%, making the cap hit $925,000.
An interesting wild card would be teams that are a little bit more analytically inclined. Fast has always had great numbers, even when the Rangers had historically bad defensive numbers. I’d lean towards one of those teams acquiring Fast over a bigger splash like Kreider.
Carolina was the first team that came to mind because this kind of trade is right up their alley. They are analytically inclined, set in the top-six, have the cap space to make it work, and multiple second/third round picks to work with. The only thing with the Canes is that their forwards are pretty stacked. Unless there is an injury, I can’t see them looking outside the organization. Or maybe Fast could be an insurance policy that slides in for a struggling Ryan Dzingel, who has been demoted to the fourth line.
The Avs are another team that has been sniffing around the Rangers lately. While the thought process went right to Kreider, he might be cost prohibitive for them. They do, however, lack a second round pick this year, but do have Toronto’s third to work with. Colorado is a fit from a roster perspective though, as Colorado is a little top-heavy and Fast’s reputation as a solid utility man improves their lineup without drastically altering it.
The Bruins are a one line team that has no RW depth at all. Karson Kuhlman and Chris Wagner slot in behind David Pastrnak and Anders Bjork, and that’s just not very good. Boston has been rumored to be in on Kreider, but Fast is a nice consolation prize if they miss out or don’t want to fork up the 1st+prospect it’s going to cost to land him. They have their second and third rounders as well.
Quite honestly, this could go on all day. Every single playoff team could use a player like Fast, and he comes with a cheap cap hit and an affordable trade cost. Edmonton, Vegas, Vancouver, Washington, Florida, Dallas, St. Louis…that’s about all the playoff teams.
At some point, Fast’s contract demands are going to be leaked and the Rangers are going to make a decision regarding his future in New York. They won’t have trouble finding a trade destination for him if he prices himself out.