On Monday, Jesper Fast was called up by the New York Rangers. The move followed the demotion of JT Miller (and Vigneault’s pointy comments about said player). Once he recovered from a high-ankle sprain, Fast became one of the Hartford Wolf Pack’s most consistent players. His call up was warranted, but the move made sense for a number of other reasons.
I’ve argued that Miller has played well enough in his short stints with the Rangers to stay on the roster. Judging by Vigneault’s comments though, there is clearly something else going on behind the scenes that I’m not aware of. The fact that Miller is a center probably also helped the Rangers in their decision to send him back to the Wolf Pack. The Rangers aren’t stacked at center, but they do have five competent NHL centers on the roster (including Brian Boyle), which makes it difficult for a young player to find a spot. This is especially true when you consider the Rangers immediate roster need is a winger following Chris Kreider’s injury.
With the promotion of Fast, the Rangers arguably have their most balanced lineup of the season heading into the playoffs. The addition of Fast and adding Martin St. Louis to the Rick Nash line, allows Brad Richards to be a third line center and the Zuccarello line to consistently play second line minutes. Most importantly, it gives St. Louis the talented line mates he deserves. After all, I don’t think he asked to be traded to the Rangers so he could have Brian Boyle or Dominic Moore on his opposite wing. Finally, all the forwards are slotted into their appropriate spots in the lineup with line combinations that make sense from top to bottom.
It’s difficult to take too much away from a game late in the season against a Carolina Hurricanes team that’s facing a summer of shake-ups and break-ups. However if the Rangers play with their new line combinations is any indication of what’s to come, the team is going to be a scary beast come playoff time once Chris Kreider returns.