Jesper Fast on track to return, Rangers looking at trade options

Mats Zuccarello should be safe on Monday (Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports)

Mats Zuccarello should be safe on Monday (Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports)

With much of the focus on the trade deadline as it comes ever closer by the day, I thought it may be a good time to look at a couple young players the New York Rangers have in the system.

Personally I usually have a list of players I would like the Rangers to acquire before the deadline but this season I don’t see too many weaknesses up front. Maybe they could look for a fourth line left-wing but with little cap space left they could use a kid from Hartford. Jesper Fast, Oscar Lindberg, and J.T. Miller are all promising young players in the Rangers system.

JT Miller  (Photo by Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images)

JT Miller (Photo by Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images)

Fast and Miller both have NHL games under their belt. An argument can even be made that Lindberg is ready after making his NHL debut against Calgary. He is a center that skates well with a lot of speed and is solid in the face-off circle. So why trade assets for something you already have with two players still battling for the sixth defenseman spot in the lineup?

The unncertainty regarding next seasons salary cap will affect the way the Rangers will do business at the deadline. Brady Skjei is the only promising young defensive prospect the Rangers have in their system and he has yet to play a pro game, AHL or NHL.

That said, management’s focus should be on defensive depth in any moves made before the trade deadline. The Rangers can score goals in bunches and they have the best goaltender in the world. The only real issue is what AV plans to do with his third defense pair. Dan Boyle is likely cemented into the lineup so it’s John Moore, Matt Hunwick or a trade to acquire a player.


Jesper Fast is a well above average skater with exceptional defensive skills. His Offensive skills were beginning to round into form before his injury.
Jesper  Fast

Jesper Fast, NYR (nhl)

Fast is a great penalty killer and before the injury his offensive game was beginning to round out. He has the ability to play on either the 3RW or 4RW. Alain Vigneault moved him to the third line with Kevin Hayes and Carl Hagelin and his decision making with the puck improved with the easier shifts.

Skating on the fourth line with Tanner Glass and Dom Moore, Jesper Fast held an unspectacular 43.1% on ice Corsi for. Not indicative of his skill level but a classic example of how one bad player can hurt the entire line and its efficiency. I hate to beat this to death but it’s a problem nonetheless. When Fast moved to the third line his personal Corsi inflated to a very solid 56.2% CF%. He is a different player when paired with better linemmates.

The Rangers are looking at upgrades to their defense before the trade deadline but is it neccassary?

Every insider and expert reports ad nauseam about the trade deadline and how the Rangers need to add a forward and/or a defenseman. I do think a player like Andrej Sekera would have helped the Rangers as a third pair defenseman. Carolina sent Anderej Sekera to LA for a 2015 first round pick and a solid prospect Ronald McKeown. The Rangers don’t have a 2015 first round pick but that trade should set the market for a bottom four defenseman. If they plan to add a defenseman before March 2nd, Glen Sather will have to get creative.

[su_pullquote]Oscar Lindberg is a very smart two-way center. Takes care of his defensive responsibilities, but also contributes offensively with good speed, technical skills and playmaking ability. Not an overly physical player, but he gets involved. Pretty good shot, but not a natural scorer. A team player who is good at face-offs. – Elite Prospects (2011)[/su_pullquote]

Oscar Lindberg finally got his shot in the NHL after a season and a half in the AHL. He’s able to line up on the left-wing as well as in the middle for the Rangers but AV needs to play him. Having Lindberg in the lineup on the fourth line in place of Tanner Glass will add speed and youth. The Rangers need to remove the bad possession player and insert a different player. Wether it be Oscar Lindberg or someone else from Hartford, Glass is not a viable option.

Lee Stempniak scores GWG (Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)

Lee Stempniak scores GWG (Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)

Jesper Fast is on schedule to return in the next week or so. He is skating and will be able to return to full contact soon. When Fast is able to play games he should be inserted right back into the lineup. He playes well defensively to play on the fourth line with Dominic Moore and Lee Stempniak and their sixty plus percent defensive zone starts.

A little side note as I was at the game on Thursday against the Yotes at the Garden. The Rangers defensive play would have confused even the most knowledgable hockey expert. I know a lot but there is as much that I don’t know about the pro game and these guys had me in baffled with how slow they looked.

For the first twenty minutes of that game the defenseman looked uninspired. The Forwards looked uninterested and the “Cayotes” took advantage of it for three goals. Cam Talbot allowed a bad third goal but when you allow second and third oportunities in the slot, you get beat. I would like it if the Rangers added a young player because of the teams average age but maybe a veteran would be more useful. Just a thought as Glen Sather considers overrated and overpaid forwards Antoin Vermette or Tyler Bozak. Stick with the “two yutes”!


I began watching the Rangers in 1990 when I was 9 years old. Soon after a lifelong friend of... More about Bob-O

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