For much of the time since the rebuild became official, there's been a vocal portion of the Ranger fan base that have wanted the team to move on from Jesper Fast. Despite being a five time player's player choice on the team, many Blueshirt faithful have not seen the value of his steady defense, and occasional streaks of timely offense.
No, "Quickie" has not been a fan favorite. He's not a physical presence, nor does he provide the type of offense that would warrant time with the likes of Artemi Panarin or Mika Zibanejad, despite what the coaches might think.
Well, now they'll have to find someone else to focus their ire on, because as of today, Jesper Fast is now a Carolina Hurricane on a three year $6M deal. With the announcement of the terms there came a new complaint: Why couldn't the Rangers have done that deal?
In the space of about 36 hours, Fast went from a role player who many didn't really care about, to a modest cause celebre
What about his leadership qualities?
What exactly is the Rangers' plan?
Couldn't the Rangers have signed that deal?
Of the first two questions we can only speculate. Fast was not one to step up and talk publicly, so we have little perspecitve of how we lead in the lockerroom, though it is true that he had briefly moved up to the second most tenured Ranger after the trade of Marc Staal and buy-out of Henrik Lundqvist.
As to the Rangers plan, the mood changed dramatically mostly on the back of the Jack Johnson signing. It is a curious move, as Larry Brooks described it today, but the signing of a 33 year old defenseman who many believe will remain near the bottom of the league has undermined much of the good will developed over the majority of the last three years.
On terms, it seems the Rangers and Fast never really had much of a serious conversation. Fast was believed to be looking for three years and $9M dollars, a somewhat modest increase oaver his $1.875M a year he earned on his last contract.
Perhaps if we living in normal times he'd be back in Blue. Instead he signs with the team that effectively ended his Ranger career, courtesy of a Brady Skjei hit about one minute into what turned out to be his last appearance as a Blueshirt.
For a young team that struggled defensively last year, it'll be interesting to see if this move has a lasting effect. It also remains to be seen how the Rangers will address one less forward on defense, perhaps they will take another run at Michael Grabner once he makes himself available, or maybe they'll simply try to plug the gap with one of the fringe guys they signed yesterday.