The New York Rangers have been having a good year on offense thus far and the most recent forward to start contributing to the cause is Jesper Fast. The 24-year-old has been known as more of a defensive-minded forward in his young career, but he seems to be developing nicely on the offensive side of the puck as well. His terrific speed combined with good vision and a nose for the net have been a great combination for the native of Nassjo, Sweden as he’s been a steady point producer these past few games which has been a bonus for New York.
The name of the Rangers game this year is speed and that’s a trait that Fast has in abundance. While quickness is always a plus for a player, they still need to be able to get creative and move the puck to score at this level and that’s an area where the forward has shown improvement.
What he’s displayed lately is the ability to make some slick passes and create space for himself with his legs. One play that sticks out in my mind is the goal that Pavel Buchnevich scored against the Vancouver Canucks the last time the two teams played at Madison Square Garden. Fast backed the defense all the way down and then made a great pass through traffic to Buchnevich who was streaking to the net.
Fast has six points in his last eight games for the Rangers. As good as he is in space, I’m equally as impressed with his ability to get to the front of the net and deflect pucks. He isn’t overly big, but he has no fear of going to the tough areas. It takes a special kind of courage to stand in the danger zone when players of this caliber are tearing off shots and it’s paying off for both Fast and the Rangers.
Sticking to Your Guns
Even though Fast has been better on offense, the best part of is game is still defense. He’s always been good at closing up lanes and pressuring opponents and it’s nice to see all of that hard work pay off on the scoresheet from time to time. Back this past week against the Canucks, Fast did a fantastic job in his end to force a turnover and then get the puck to his teammate Kevin Hayes, who ended up finishing the play with a pretty move.
Fast is one of the more well-rounded players on the team and while the offense is nice, the team can’t have him start to get away from his bread and butter which is strong defensive play. The fact is that Fast is probably this team’s best defensive winger behind Rick Nash and that’s a huge responsibility. Fast plays 1:41 per game for the team in short-handed situations which is second on the team among forwards behind only Michael Grabner. Fast will need to continue to hold the fort on defense and do the heavy lifting while short a man.
It’s always great to see players grow, and Fast is the kind of player who just keeps getting better. I felt bad for him at the beginning of the season, because he seemed to take a step back on the depth chart by being relegated solely to fourth-line duty. But it’s actually worked out, as the teams’ fourth line has been a force on offense as well this season.
I see Fast as the kind of player who will have these random outbursts on offense, but as I mentioned earlier his biggest impact for this team will be on the defensive side of the puck and that’s something he brings every game.