With the new season on the horizon, the Carolina Hurricanes are expected to be one of the better teams in the National Hockey League. With a deadly top six, a deep blueline, and two very talented netminders, the Canes have the pieces to make some noise. But teams cannot rely on top-end talent in the playoffs and require the depth that makes teams special. Someone Carolina will need big time in this regard is Swedish winger Jesper Fast.
In his first season in Raleigh, the man nicknamed “Quicky” was really a non-entity. Recording 6 goals and 13 assists for 19 points in 46 games, he didn’t have the instant impact I think a lot of canes fans were expecting with the glowing reviews he was being given from Rangers fans. Not to say Fast was bad, he was very solid defensively. His offensive output was just lacking.
Fast was coming to Carolina off the back of a season where he put up 12 goals and 17 assists for 29 points in 69 games. That is a 35 point pace and that was a bad year for Jesper Fast offensively, but last season he recorded a 34 point pace. He needs to improve with his production, and he needs to find the ability to stay in the lineup.
Next season, Fast is going to be a very important piece for the Canes. Strong defensively, he needs to find that next gear on the 3rd line in order to push his point totals up and make this team’s top nine truly deadly. 35 points are fine, there’s nothing wrong with that. But there’s a lot of room for improvement on that 3rd line if Fast cannot find that next step offensively.
Now, I understand that he is not going to be playing with the most gifted offensive linemates. Likely being played with Jordan Staal and Jesperi Kotkaniemi, this is likely going to be a very defensive-orientated line. Attacking-wise, none of these players have much to offer, and with Kotkaniemi playing out of position and Staal having hands of stone most years, Fast will need to try to carry the offensive load.
Now, I know this might seem like a lot. Jesper Fast kills penalties, he can play on the 2nd powerplay unit, he can slide up the lineup if there are injuries and he can play solidly if there’s an extreme issue, like a 5-on-3. He can do a solid job almost anywhere in the lineup, and can be used as a Swiss army knife player, but he needs to be more than just a utility player.