Much has been said and will continue to be said about Chris Kreider’s trade value with the deadline rapidly approaching. Of course, Kreider isn’t the only New York Ranger that can be classified as a rental.
Alternate captain Jesper Fast is in the final year of his three-year, $5.5 million contract and will be an unrestricted free agent come July 1, 2020. Fast, who has won four consecutive Players’ Player Awards — a feat last accomplished by Brian Leetch — turned 28 in December. There is certainly a case to be made that Fast’s work ethic and value to the team’s identity could warrant an extension, but by no means should he be considered a load-bearing part of the skeleton.
So, what would a good offer for Fast look like?
At best, the plucky Swedish winger is a 30-point player but his true value has always been tied to the intangibles he brings to the table. It is those intangibles that should make him a tempting option for a team looking to add to its forward depth before a playoff push. Fast is special to the Rangers and the team’s locker room, but it is unlikely that opposing teams will pay a premium for a guy who works his tail off but has a limited ceiling in regards to his production.
With that being said, he has been showcased this year playing on the top line with Artemiy Panarin and Ryan Strome. At the All-Star break, Panarin and Strome were Fast’s most frequent linemates at 5-on-5.
The market changes every year, but there is a deal from last season that could give us some insight on what Fast’s value to other teams might look like. And, interestingly enough, that deal involves a former Ranger.
Condition on the 6th Rd pick in Hagelin deal: Caps must win two rounds and Hagelin plays in 50 percent or more of any two rounds combined. So could be rd 1 and 2. Or 2 and 3. Or 1 and 3, etc. If those things don’t happen, there’s no 6th RD pick going to LA— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) February 21, 2019
If you look beyond how elaborate the details of that conditional pick were, this deal was pretty straightforward. The Capitals, who had designs on winning their second Cup in two years, gave up a third round pick for a player who is comparable to Fast in age, production, and intangibles. It’s also important to note that it would be unlikely for a Fast deal to require retained salary like the Hagelin deal did. His $1.85 million cap hit is far less of an obstacle than Hagelin’s $4 million cap hit was at last year’s deadline.
It’s possible that Fast could bring back as much as a second, especially with how shallow the rental forward market looks this year. All things considered, a pick in the first few rounds of the draft represents a more attractive option to the Rangers than bringing back a forward prospect that an opposing team has classified as expendable.
The good news for the Rangers is that Jesper Fast just oozes with the traits that teams look for when they are tooling up for the playoffs. He has 39 games of postseason experience under his belt, is a great skater, and can move up and down the lineup. He is more or less an ideal role player.
Contract information courtesy of CapFriendly.com. Other data courtesy of naturalstattrick.com.