October 11, 2020

The Rangers had to move on from Jesper Fast

Jesper Fast will be a UFA soon (Getty Images)

Jesper Fast was a great member of the New York Rangers. He was a modern day Jan Erixon for all intents and purposes. The 28 year-old was always hard on the puck, reliable defensively, and could score the occasional goal. He was a coach’s dream, a player’s player, and a fan favorite.

That’s why when fans see what he signed for it makes it hard to accept. However, when you step back and detach the emotional aspect, the Rangers made the right move.

This was not about money, but opportunity for younger Rangers players

Fast’s new three year Canes deal is just $150,000 more than his last deal with the Blueshirts. In truth, this was not so much about money but opportunity. Simply put, the Rangers weren’t interested in a multi-year deal and wanted to give Kaapo Kakko a spot in the top six next season. Also, they needed to open up minutes for Vitali Kravtsov and Julien Gauthier on the right side.

The Rangers are on the up swing and need to make that next step into a contender. By the time, Kakko, Fox, Miller, and Lafreniere are ready to dominate, Fast will be gone. Plus he would be blocking Kravtsov and Gauthier. It was time to move on and Fast will do well in a bottom six role in Carolina.

How we got here

Jesper Fast
Jesper Fast last days with Rangers (Bruce Bennett-Getty Images)

The Rangers tried to work out a deal with Fast before the trade deadline. Whatever the gap was it could not be closed. Jeff Gorton shopped Fast around but could not find a suitable deal and with the Rangers on the cusp of a playoff spot opted to keep him.

Once COVID hit, it really didn’t matter what Fast was looking for because the NHL was changed. Add in the Rangers winning the lottery and getting Alexis Lafreniere as the last factors to not bringing Fast back.

In early September I spoke with a source about Jesper Fast’s situation. In our phone conversation when I asked if there were talks going on about a new deal the response was, “the window has passed.”

While that “window” was left ajar, the source noted that it would take a lot of work for there to be a deal and therefore not likely. That is why I exclusively reported Jesper Fast was going to free agency. And although Jeff Gorton implied there was a possibility after the draft, there were no discussions between the two sides this offseason as was reported by Larry Brooks.

At the end of the day, this wasn’t about not wanting Fast. This was about financial constraints and making room for highly touted prospects. It was more about tomorrow, then today. It was the right move.

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