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The growth and emergence of Jesper Fast

Bobby Bevilacqua

jesper fast 12-1

Jesper Fast has been a nice surprise for the Rangers this season, playing very strong defensively and showing glimpses of his offensive abilities. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

The Rangers have been one of the league’s hottest teams over the last month, winning 10 of their last 11 games, vastly outscoring their opponents in that streak (40-17), and playing fantastic defensively, with some help from Henrik Lundqvist and Cam Talbot in net.

It’s easy to pick out players like Rick Nash and Martin St. Louis, who lead the Rangers in points, or to say that the strong defense from players like Ryan McDonagh and Marc Staal have been the reason for the Rangers success.

However, there are four lines and three defensive pairings for a reason, and many of the Rangers skaters on the bottom two lines have been huge contributors to the team’s success.

With the 157th pick in the 2010 NHL Draft, the New York Rangers drafted Jesper Fast, a 19 year old prospect playing junior hockey in Sweden. He continued to play in the Swedish Juniors league and in the Swedish professional league, having his best season in 2012-2013, scoring a total of 35 points (18-17-35) in 47 games with HV71 Jonkoping in Sweden.

Fast played 11 games with the Rangers in 2013-2014, but could not find a permanent spot in the lineup. He did very well in Hartford, putting up 34 points (17-17-34) in 48 games with the Wolf Pack.

jesper fast wolf pack

Jesper Fast was successful in the AHL, putting up 34 points in 48 games with the Wolf Pack last season. Photo courtesy of fulltiltnyr.com.

 

Fast was given a second chance with Vigneault this season, and has thrived in every role that he has been given this season.

Fast has mostly played on the Rangers fourth line, where he has provided Vigneault with a strong defensive forward with glimpses of a quality offensive touch. Fast scored his first career NHL goal on the fourth line, on a well-placed wrist shot over the shoulder of Philadelphia Flyers goalie Ray Emery.

Fast scored against the Sabres yesterday, firing a one-timer that managed to just cross the goal line. It was his third goal of the season, giving him a total of six points for the season (3-3-6). That may not seem like a lot, but Fast has played most of the season on the fourth line alongside Tanner Glass, who is not a strong offensive player.

However, Fast was promoted to the third line for the game against the Buffalo Sabres, and he capitalized on that opportunity. Fast played for 13:39, scoring one goal and finishing with a +2 rating. Fast looked very comfortable alongside Kevin Hayes and Carl Hagelin, and could potentially lock down that position permanently as the season goes on.

jesper fast first career goal 11-29

Jesper Fast has six points this season, mostly from when he played on the fourth line. Now that Fast will be playing on the third line for the foreseeable future, he may be able to showcase more of his offensive abilities. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

Fast has shown that he is a versatile player that the Rangers can rely on. He has proven that he can defend at the NHL level, and does that during every shift, as well as when he is killing penalties, where he is often on during the first couple of shifts. A strong two-way forward will benefit every team, and that is the type of player that Fast is developing into.

It takes four lines, three defensive pairings, and two goalies to complete a team, all having their own specific, important role. Jesper Fast fills an important role for the Rangers, and is still developing many facets of his game. Fast is an unrecognized, but key player for the Rangers success this season.

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Posted on January 5, 2015, in In the Crease and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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