Amid the brief optimism and subsequent let down of the lockout negotiations (aka ‘far apart’) Rangers prospects have been getting it done and, which has been the case all season long, the Swedish contingent are shining bright.
Jesper Fasth continued his strong start to the SEL season and now has 9 points in 14 games for HV71. Fast grabbed two goals on Wednesday as HV71 beat Färjestad 4-3. The most encouraging thing in regard to Fasth is the fact he’s producing on the powerplay (2 of his 6 goals so far) and is seeing considerable ice time at close to 20 minutes/game. Clearly, Fasth is becoming a go-to option for his club which should stand him in good stead long term. With Oscar Lindberg still scoring at a point/game clip (now 14 in 14) come next season there will likely be another two Swedes making a serious case for inclusion on the Rangers roster.
So how does this affect the roster, aside from player turnover? With the possible inclusion of Fasth and Lindberg the Rangers get, above all else, quicker. The Rangers in the past have had difficulty handling quicker teams and the gradual inclusion of skaters such as Carl Hagelin, Ryan McDonagh on the back end, and most recently Chris Kreider has seen the Rangers able to match up to most squads. With Fasth and Lindberg, the club will only be deeper in the speed stakes.
Perhaps the best part of the future Rangers is the amount of ‘different looks’ and variety teams will have to deal with up front. In the top six you have the outright speed of Gaborik, the relentless hustle of Callahan and the size and speed of Rick Nash and (in all likelihood) Chris Kreider. Beyond that group the likes of Fasth, Lindberg, Hagelin and Brian Boyle mean teams will need to game plan for a wide array of types. There’s no smurf unit on the Rangers any longer and there’s no plundering, slow footed unit either.
The increased speed on the Rangers will allow coach Tortorella to game plan aggressively, forecheck at will and take more chances offensively. With players such as Carl Hagelin the coach can afford a little more room for error knowing that players can get recover that more quickly. Now, if only they could get a CBA sorted we could see what the line up will do to opposition on a nightly basis.