Can the NY Rangers afford a Jesper Fast contract extension?

Now that the Alexis Lafreniere excitement is starting to die down, the Rangers can shift to their regular offseason activities. The RFAs are a big ticket item this offseason, but floating under the radar is Jesper Fast. The Rangers every-man is an unrestricted free agent and due a raise. The flat cap poses a big question: Can the Rangers afford Jesper Fast’s next contract?

It’s all about contract value for the Rangers. Per Evolving-Wild, the 28 year old Fast is looking at a 3-4 year deal worth about $3 million. On the surface, paying $3 million for Fast, just a $1.2 million raise, sounds like an easy number to manage. The Rangers have $13.6 million in cap space, and with Fast that leaves them with $10 million.

Even Strength

As per usual, there’s more nuance to this. The Rangers are likely going to slot Pavel Buchnevich and Kaapo Kakko on their top two lines. This means KZB stays together and Kakko gets a season with Artemi Panarin. That bumps Fast to the third line with most likely Alexis Lafreniere. That is, unless Vitali Kravtsov changes the conversation.

Spending $3 million on Jesper Fast’s next contract to be a 3RW to balance out that third line is ok cap management. There are worse things to spend $3 million on. This especially holds true as the league shifted to a more skilled game, where four scoring lines are an absolute necessity to win. Fast does the little things that lead to open ice and chances for his teammates.

The Rangers are a better team with Fast on the ice. The offensive impact this year is likely skewed to spending most of his time with Artemi Panarin, but the defensive numbers have always been there. The best defense is a good offense, and Fast is not only good in his own zone, but he does the things in the offensive zone that keeps the puck there. It’s why he complemented Panarin so well. There’s a lot of value in numbers like these.

Special Teams

Fast is also a top penalty killing forward for the Rangers. The numbers aren’t that pretty, but let’s remember the PK wasn’t that good this year. Also, Fast got 7 minutes of PP time this year, so those are worth ignoring. Fast has value at two strengths, and can probably add value on the PP in a pinch.

Beyond Next Season

What gets the Rangers into trouble isn’t next season, which is already a bit of a squeeze, but the years after. Fast is very quickly moving from top-nine winger to fourth line winger. In today’s NHL that isn’t a bad thing. The Rangers will need players like Fast on the fourth line to help balance out the lineup.

The thing is, are the Rangers going to be in a situation where they can afford to pay a 4RW $3 million? These kinds of contracts are what get teams in trouble. Just look at the Islanders, who gave $3 million or more to Matt Martin, Casey Cizikas, Leo Komarov, and Cal Clutterbuck. Now they need to take drastic measures to keep Mat Barzal and Ryan Pulock.

Cap management goes beyond one season. The Rangers, with key RFA contracts expiring in each of the next four seasons, can’t afford to make the same mistake. In the short term, the NY Rangers can afford Jesper Fast’s next contract. But will they be able to for the entire term?

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  • Sorry to say but I think we have seen the Last of Fast in a Rangers sweater. The guy has earned his next payday which he will absolutely get. It just doesn’t make sense for it to be with the Rangers. Kakko and Buch are already ahead of him on the depth chart and Kravtsov Will not far behind.

    Go get paid Fast. And go to the West Coast so we don’t see you that often.

    • Why does he have to see the west coast?

      He will most definitely will have teams in the Metro calling.. NJD, NYI and CBJ are teams that could meet his demands. He fit well in AV’s system, Philly could come calling.

        • “You’re thinking wayyyyy too much in to that last sentence……”

          Fast was a byproduct to AV’s system, he is smart enough to pick it up again. It’s not that deep unless if you started watching hockey in 2019?

          • He’s a player I like that I would rather not root against. So I said go collect your paycheck and play for a team far away.

            Like I said. You’re thinking way too much in to this.

          • “He’s a player I like that I would rather not root against. So I said go collect your paycheck and play for a team far away.”

            ^ That’s what I thought, beat around the bush some more… Lol

  • To answer your question: Probably NOT, but we should. He’s the consummate professional and the ONE exception we should make to the rule that no one on the 4th line should be made more than a million. Unfortunately you have Buch, Kakko, Kravtsov and Gauthier on the right side — and we’re already under utilizing Gauthier.

    • “and we’re already under utilizing Gauthier.”

      People around here have heavily have overrated Gauth. He started to look like Brandon Mashinter 2.0… I lost count of how many times he was out there on prolong shifts in the Canes series.

  • “As per usual, there’s more nuance to this. The Rangers are likely going to slot Pavel Buchnevich and Kaapo Kakko on their top two lines. This means KZB stays together and Kakko gets a season with Artemi Panarin. That bumps Fast to the third line with most likely Alexis Lafreniere. That is, unless Vitali Kravtsov changes the conversation.”
    Who Says!
    In the mind of the coach Fast is a second line player. What makes you think Kakko is better than Fast if the coach doesn’t.

  • Unless the Rangers and Fast can creatively structure his contract, I don’t see how they can afford to sign him to a multi-year deal that has a cap hit of $3 million per annum in view of the other players that they will need to pay down the road.

    He is a good player who does make the team better although he doesn’t garner points himself. Because of the way he plays the game he might be coaching material at some level some day too. I don’t know the ins and outs of cap management too well, but to me he appears to be a luxury they cannot afford. Quickie is a good guy and it is a shame that he might have to go.

  • I don’t see Fast coming back. Rangers have plenty of work to do besides mulling an offer to Fast. Of bigger concern to me is the Staal/Smith situation……..and Hank possibly retiring and playing in sweden….Leadership will have their hands full and will have to be creative…..There are three players that I would love to add to this team…all physical and can play hockey….The question is this: Will leadership punt and bring back the same team as last season?

  • Please, how can we justify $3+ for 3-4 years, for a player who should play only on the 4th line. I love the guy, but with the kids, Fast should see zero time on the first two, or three lines, unless for an injured player.

    Didn’t JG say he wanted to have a team that’s hard to play against? Fast isn’t hard to play against, even though he wears his heart on his sleeve. Bottom line, this should be the end of the line for his days with the Rangers, unless he takes considerably less than what people are projecting!!!!!!!!!

  • Quickie!

    Thank you for all the work, all the examples of how to dig deep and play with a heart that fills the bench with admiration.

    I wonder who the next players are on this squad that will play with such inner power.

    Good luck where ever you go, I too hope it’s on the West coast.

    I just think it comes down to a business decision that is more about 2+ years from now.


  • It should be about 2020-2021 and nothing more. If the Rangers resign Fast, he likely will only be around one year before he is drafted by Seattle. If not, he will likely be fairly moveable so this contract should not be an albatross.

    Let’s be clear. Fast is basically a third line player. Certainly playing on the second line this year was a clear indication he is heading toward the fourth line – say what?

    Is he tough to play against? The Rangers certainly were not without him. Let us not forget that Panarin-Strome-Fast was the best line Panarin has ever played on. Panarin was nominated for the Hart Trophy. Artemi Panarin is a great player and deseves a ton of credit, but Jesper Fast made him better, not worse.

    And did anybody seriously watch Kaapo Kakko in the playoffs? he was sort of fun to watch, but he was all alone out there. He never looked at a teammate, just skated around with the puck until he either lost it or shot – and no especially good shots IIRC. When Panarin is on the ice, you mostly want the puck in his hands. Kakko should get better but for now, panarin might have better chances on the PK than with Kakko as a linemate.

    So, if the Rangers can make it work with the rest of the roster, this is a no-brainer. Of course, if they keep Strome and DeAngelo and Lundqvist does not retire, keeping Fast is likely not possible.

    • I think it makes sense to use one or two of ADA, Strome, Georgiev, Buch, plus their second 1st in a potential trade. I like Buch a lot, but with Kappo, Kravstov and Gauthier–it may make sense to trade him in a package for a center or top center prospect. In another season or so he may not have a spot in the top 6. If Kravstov is a top six wing, I think he’ll need one or two seasons–maybe more–to get there. So a trading Buch now will hurt the team this coming season but might be smarter long term.

  • Jesper Fast is simply the most underrated player on this team. He can play up and down the lineup and is very competent in all situations.

    Was it a coincidence that this team was literally non competitive against Carolina when Fast went down? I don’t think so, I believe Fast’s talent, leadership and IQ were greatly missed. Was Panarin’s game totally screwed up in that series? Was Fast’s absence another factor in that? Simply an underrated, professional, competent NHL’er.

    • What about 2 years, $2.5M?

      This UFA class is going to take a beating and I think it will particularly hurt players like Fast – guys who are good, help you win, but are not flashy. Fans are not going to be impressed by a Fast signing.

      I think Fast should want a short contract to tide him over until the market improves.

  • How about a one year 5 million dollar “bridge” contract and then see what next year brings when all the dead cap space, or a lot of it, comes off the books. Basically a “show me” contract for the Rangers or some other team if the Rangers go in another direction. Then you have him on the team for next year as a veteran presence on the LaFran line, and a possible deep run for a cinderella team. I’m no cap guru by any means but I think they can afford this with all the young guys on the team. It’s a way to say “we think we can win with you, but things are going to be dicey after next year, we would love to have you help us win the Cup next year”. Trying to think outside the box, do you think he would take it? I do!

    • appreciate the thumbs down, but what I was hoping for is a knowledgeable cap guy to tell me why this can’t work….oh well.

      • OK, there are three problems:
        First, he isn’t worth $5M a year, even for one year.
        Second, nobody likes a pay cut, so giving him $5M one year just makes the next year tougher.
        Third, we have a very good idea what he can and will do, so it is not a show me situation.

        I do think Fast would be happy to get a short contract to tide him over until the covid cap crisis passes, but $3M is closer to reasonable.

      • I could see a team (maybe ONE) with a little cap space giving him 2 years @ 3.5M, but he isn’t a $4m+ player … I think he would stay in NY for 2 @ 2.5M, he doesn’t strike me like the guy who wants to venture out of his social and cultural zone.

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