Jesper Fast by the Numbers:
- Age: 31
- NHL Seasons: 10
- Scoring: 10 goals, 19 assists, 29 points in 80 games
- Playoff Scoring: 6 goals, 3 assists, 9 points in 15 games
- Advanced Stats: 60.3 CF%, 60.56 HDCF%, 53.16 GF%, 58.69 xGF%
- Average TOI: 13:02 ES, 0:16 PP, 1:26 SH
- Contract Status: Unrestricted Free Agent
Jesper Fast’s 10th NHL season was the final on his three-year contract with the Carolina Hurricanes. The forward saw his production slightly decline after a career season in 2021-22.
His goals declined from 14 down to 10 and his assists declined from 20 to 19. That means overall his points went from 34 to 29 in a contract season. Judging Fast all on his point production is unfair, he is a 200-foot player.
Fast spent the majority of his time on the ice on the third line with Jordan Staal and Jordan Martinook. A slight change from the prior year after his linemate Nino Niederreiter signed with Nashville in the offseason. Fast played over 800 minutes with both Martinook and Staal this season.
The construction of the line was never about scoring goals, their goal was to shut down opposition and generate energy. They often drew tough matchups and rarely started in the offensive zone. Fast had the lowest offensive zone start percentage on the team starting in the offensive zone just 52.2% of the time.
The third line lacked any lethal goal-scoring and Fast’s 10 goals were the fewest on the third line and ranks him 10th among Canes forwards. So it’s impressive to still see that while he was on the ice he still managed to produce 58.69% expected goals for and 53.16% goals for.
Fast has always been a big presence on the penalty kill. He is one of the five forwards that Rod Brind’Amour relies on killing penalties. He averaged 1:26 of shorthanded ice time per game played this season which adds up to a total 115:19 for the season.
He was effective killing penalties only allowing 5.2 goals against per 60 minutes of shorthanded time. This ranks him second in forwards, only behind Teuvo Teravainen who had 3.97 PPGA/60. Fast uses great positioning and pesky stick work to disrupt zone entries and force mistakes and turnovers.
This can also be seen on the scoresheet, where he had three assists while shorthanded. The only player with more points while killing penalties is Sebastian Aho with four.
After the injury to Andrei Svechnikov and into the playoffs Fast was occasionally moved around. Most frequently he also played with Jesperi Kotkaniemi and not Staal. Fast was arguably the best and most consistent forward in the playoffs for the Canes. He averaged 16:46 of ice time and only took a single penalty while also drawing two penalties.
The Canes without three of their top six forwards were still able to win two rounds because players like Fast stepped up. In 15 games he led the Canes with six goals and was the only player with multiple game-winning goals for Carolina. He also registered three assists to bring his total points up to nine which ranked fourth on the team.
His ability to be physical and get to battle through contact makes him a great playoff-style player. He contributed in every facet of the game. His consistent performances also led to him getting time on the powerplay. He scored a goal on the power play as well as two goals while shorthanded.
In the first round, Fast and the shutdown line drew the matchup of Anders Lee, Bo Horvat, and Mathew Barzal and any other defensive zone draw. Fast started in the offensive zone just 37.6% of the time and were still able to shut them down controlling possession 55.3% of the time. However, Fast only had 33% goals for.
This led to questions heading into the second round with how they would be able to stand up to the way more potent line of Ondrej Palat, Nico Hischier, and Jesper Bratt and a high-quality second line of Timo Meier, Jack Hughes, and Dawson Mercer.
Fast performed admirably with an increase in production and possession. They turned the tide against the top performers on the Devils where he was on the ice for seven goals for and only four against.
We know how the playoffs ended, getting swept by the Florida Panthers. He ended with just a single goal in the Eastern Conference Final. While the whole team struggled in the series, Fast was still looked at as a reliable player for Brind’Amour.
Fast has likely seen his value rise over the last two years. Now the big question heading into the offseason is whether or not his price is too big for the front office to consider for re-signing him. He plays the perfect style for Brind’Amour, but at 31 the front office will not exceed their price tag for the player regardless of the results.
All it takes is for an additional team to get involved in a bidding war and the Canes have proven they will walk. Which side wins out? Only time will tell.
How would you grade Jesper Fast’s 2022-23 season?
This poll is closed
A - outstanding performance
B - above average performance
C - average performance
D - below average performance
F - significantly below average performance