Mr. Everything Jesper Fast did everything for the Rangers this year. On a true competitor, Fast is likely a third liner, but he spent the majority of his time this year with Ryan Strome and Artemi Panarin on the second line. He turned out to be a perfect fit with them, as he did the little things, even if they don’t show up on the score sheet, that allowed Strome and Panarin to put the puck in the net.
In 69 games this year, Fast put up 12-17-29 while playing primarily with Strome and Panarin. On the surface, you’d like to see more production from Fast in that situation. The counterpoint here is that Fast does not play on the powerplay, which does limit his counting stats. His shot rates and his shooting percentage were around his career averages, for what it’s worth.
But again, Fast is an every-man because he does everything else right. He was a significant net-positive both offensively and defensively, something that shouldn’t surprise anyone that has watched him play for the past 7-8 seasons. The impact may be slightly skewed though, since he did spend the majority of time with Panarin. Generally speaking, as you spend more time in the offensive zone, there are more/better shots for, and fewer/worse shots against.
Looking at his season trends, Fast –like every other Ranger– had a very rough October/November. As the team started picking it up, his overall xGF% numbers improved as well. He stayed mostly above average until the trade deadline when injuries and trading Brady Skjei had a negative impact.
The best part about Fast’s game is that he is steady. He’s not flashy. He gets the job done, he will put up 30 points, and he does the little things you need to win games. The only knock is that his counting stats could be perceived as low, given who he spent most of his time with on the ice. If that’s the only knock, then that’s fine by me.