Could Jesper Fast be a flat cap casualty?
Vincent Z. Mercogliano of Lohud.com: Again, Fast presents as a versatile player who can serve a variety of roles. Last season, Fast played on the second line allowing Ryan Strome and Artemi Panarin to have career seasons. Sometimes it is more than those simple numbers known as goals and assists.
“Shift in and shift out, we probably don’t have a more consistent player,” Rangers coach David Quinn said of Fast in February. “He just plays hard, and he’s got enough skill to complement people that do have skill. There’s such an honesty to his game, and it certainly is infectious throughout our lineup. He’s an important piece to the puzzle here.”
What does a team pay for this kind of consistency and work? That flat $81.5 million cap for the next few seasons presents problems. Fast’s ability to play in all three zones relentlessly adds value. The most likely scenario exists that the team painfully moves on. A few other teams will pay for a player like Fast. The only question is how much?
Is Ryan Strome THE Second Line Center?
Vincent Z. Mercogliano of Lohud.com: Strome found a great chemistry with Artemi Panarin and the results were amazing for the center. He racked up 59 points in 70 game and created a huge decision for the New York Rangers to make. The fresh start was big but the fact he was able to work with Panarin and even Mika Zibanejad on the power play was telling.
The key is this. Strome remains a restricted free agent for 2020-21. New York lacks depth at center in the worst way but again that massive cap crunch. The Rangers owe a plethora of money out to several players needed to come in, Tony DeAngelo, etc. Would they shell out a huge deal for Strome (seven or eight year deal at $6-$8 million AAV)? That is a no. However, a short-term deal with a big raise over his previous $3.1 million AAV is likely.
Like with Jesper Fast, the Rangers must decide carefully with Ryan Strome as well.