Jesper Fast 2017-18 Expectations

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Jesper Fast is the New York Rangers version of a Swiss Army Knife, he can virtually do it all. This summer, Fast was a headline several times for the team. First, as we reported back on May 16, it was revealed that Fast would be out most likely until November due to hip surgery. Then, there was the risk that the Vegas Golden Knights could pick him in the expansion draft. After that, he signs a nice three-year contract that is both club and player friendly. Finally, he picks his new number for the season after the Rangers announced his number 19 was being retired in honor of Rangers legend Jean Ratelle.

All things considered, it is not as far fetched as it may seem to consider Jesper Fast as one of the most important players on the team. There’s no doubt that the team will feel his absence for the first month to six weeks of the season. Fast may not be a statistical monster, but he plays a big man’s game, especially when it counts.

Quickie’s importance

A homegrown winger, Fast was taken with the 157th overall pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Level Draft. The Swedish forward is a hard forechecking player that has a motor that never stops. During the regular season, he is far from a force offensively (6 G, 15 A, 21 P), but his two-way style of play is invaluable. As far as statistical expectations are concerned, Fast will probably end up with similar numbers to last season, especially with him being out to start the season.

Last season Fast averaged 13:48 time on the ice, but he saw a 71-second increase during the playoffs. It would be shocking if he does not see roughly 14+ minutes during the season and again see more time in the postseason.

Fast Recovery?

As mentioned before Fast had hip surgery to start the summer. Initially, it was projected five months recovery time. Naturally, he is on the ice skating with the team much earlier than expected. It’s a promising sign to see him on the ice with the team two weeks before training camp officially begins.

Fast said he’s closer to being 100 percent, and that skating and doing drills felt better than expected. The timetable for his return may be shorter than anticipated.

Alternate Options

With Dan Girardi and Derek Stepan both gone, there are two vacancies in leadership. Not to completely show my appreciation for Jesper Fast, but he could and should be a legitimate candidate for an alternate captaincy. Both he and Zuccarello are the only players that exude the leadership qualities the team needs. Not fully saying Fast needs to have a letter, but he definitely deserves it.

Jesper Fast is such a key player but the fact of the matter is, his game causes him to deteriorate throughout the year. Playing selflessly and physically forces a player to miss games; this is how Fast plays. On one hand, if he played differently he would be able to play more games; on the other, if he changed his game, his importance would begin to diminish. Fast is a smart two-way hockey player that every team needs to have.

He is a clutch player that steps up when it matters and much like in Games 4 and 5 against the Canadians Fast can provide the team the exact jolt it needs real Fast. Expectations for Fast when he returns, a new number but same level of grit. Statistically Fast may seem like any other fourth line winger in the league, in reality, he’s much more.

 

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