Jesper Fast By the Numbers
- Age: 30
- NHL Seasons: 9
- Scoring: 14 goals, 20 assists, 34 points in 82 games
- Playoff Scoring: 1 goal, 0 assists, 1 point in 14 games
- Advanced Statistics: 58.1 CF%, 59.43 HDCF%, 57.76 xGF%, 62.35 GF%
- Average TOI: 12:56 ES, 0:17 PP, 1:35 SH
- Contract Status: One year, $2 million AAV left on his current deal. UFA after 2022-23.
In year two of his three-year contract with the Carolina Hurricanes, Jesper Fast had one of his best, if not the best, regular seasons of his nine-year NHL career.
The 30-year-old Swede posted career-highs in goals (14) and points (30) and tied his career-high in assists (20) while playing in all 82 regular-season games for the first time in his NHL career.
Most of his 1,200+ minutes on the ice were alongside Jordan Staal. When that duo was on the ice together for the Hurricanes, the team scored 39 goals and rendered just 19 against across ~765 5-on-5 minutes.
Combined with Nino Niederreiter on the other wing, that duo was even more dominant. In 534:46 of 5-on-5 ice time, the trio outscored opponents by a whopping 34-14 margin while controlling 61.88% of the high-danger scoring chances and 59.58% of the expected goals.
Fast was part of one of the best middle-six lines in all of hockey for a large portion of the season, dominating the defensive side of the puck and using their size and physicality to push pucks up ice and maintain offensive zone puck possession.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a more efficient and better-tuned machine of a forward line. All three pieces were bought in and played the exact way they needed to play to make them as effective as possible during the regular season, and Fast was a huge part of that.
Fast was an elite defensive forward last season, as he was for most of his first season in Carolina, but his 5-on-5 offense was what took a serious step forward. His offensive generation was uncharacteristically low in 2020-21, but he rebounded and was closer to what he was at the end of his time in New York - a winger with average or slightly above average offensive impact combined with elite defense.
He did get bumped up the lineup at times, but he was never as effective at the top of the lineup as he was next to Staal and Niederreiter. He does have the versatility to play up for a shorter stretch of time, though.
He bookended his season with very strong stretches of offensive production. He netted five goals in the team’s first ten games and racked up nine points in an 11-game stretch in April to close out the season.
Of course, much of his impact also came on the penalty kill. He was the fourth-most-used Carolina forward on the PK, just one second behind third-place Teuvo Teravainen. While Jordan Staal was a physical beast and Sebastian Aho was such a huge counterattack threat on the PK, Fast used his active stick, quickness, and smarts to drive him to success in those situations, as he’s done through most of his career.
His success also came against quality competition, routinely going toe-to-toe with the other team’s best players in the top-six and tasked with playing a shutdown defensive role.
There’s very little to complain about on the Fast front during the regular season; he was every bit of what he was brought in to be. But, unfortunately, his impacts weren’t as substantial in the postseason - as was the case with many players on this Hurricanes roster.
In the playoffs, the Nino-Staal-Fast trio saw their numbers drop significantly. In fairness, had they maintained a damn-near 3-to-1 ratio of goals for and against in the playoffs, they would have been one of the most dominant lines in all of hockey, but they did get scored on six times and scored just four goals of their own in the postseason.
When the quality of competition was amped up, and they were being game-planned explicitly for across two seven-game series, it almost felt like they ran out of steam. The penalty kill also fell on hard times, especially in the second round against Artemi Panarin, Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad, and Adam Fox, among many others.
That’s where running out of steam becomes very pertinent to the conversation. The Hurricanes’ stunning marching band to the penalty box during the playoffs certainly took a toll on the team’s most reliable penalty-killers, a list that Fast is near the top of. It also could go a long way in explaining Staal and Fast combining for just two total goals in the postseason.
In the second round, when Carolina’s top offensive producers couldn’t find the back of the net with any sort of regularity, more pressure was dropped on the depth players to score, and that’s a tricky thing to place on the shoulders of players who have a particular set of skills.
Things fell apart late in their series against the Rangers, but it’s tough for me to place blame on a guy like Fast, who was so consistent all year and performed excellently in his role on the team.
Fast also had no part in all of the penalties Carolina took at any point in the season. It’s pretty remarkable that a player who is used so often against elite competition only took two minor penalties across 96 combined regular season and playoff games. The second of his two penalties all year came all the way back on February 21 against the Philadelphia Flyers.
After that game, in which he and Philly “defenseman” Rasmus Ristolainen took matching roughing minors, he went 32 regular-season games and 14 postseason games without a single trip to the penalty box. That is likely what earned him a handful of Lady Byng votes to go with his three Selke votes - he finished 17th in voting in both categories.
He is entering the final year of his three-year pact with the club in 2022-23. If he has another year similar to the one he just had, it’s unquestionably within the team’s best interest to extend their relationship with the player moving forward. He is as professional and likable as they come, regardless of how things are going on the ice.
In Fast’s case, things are usually going pretty well for him on the ice.
How would you grade Jesper Fast’s 2021-22 season?
This poll is closed
A - Outstanding Performance
B - Above Average Performance
C - Average Performance
D - Below Average Performance
F - Significantly Below Average Performance