When the Rangers took to the ice for practice around noon on Tuesday at the MSG Training Center there was a new face among the forwards. Jesper Fast, the team's sixth round selection in the 2010 NHL Draft, took part in his first Rangers practice, starting the next phase of his hockey career.
The 21 year-old Fast has been in New York since last week, arriving following the conclusion of his season in the Swedish Elite League. But he had to wait to meet the coaching staff and players since the Rangers were in the middle of a road trip through Philadelphia, Ottawa, and Montreal.
On Monday night Fast watched the Rangers beat the Winnipeg Jets 4-2 at Madison Square Garden. And on Tuesday he skated with the Blueshirts at practice.
"This is a big day for me," Fast said after practice. "It's an exciting day for me to come here and meet all of the players. There were some nerves, but it's fun to be here."
As for the Rangers plans for the 5-foot-11, 175-pound forward, head coach John Tortorella said he just wanted to get to know the young Swede and did not have definitive plans in place for his immediate future.
"We just want to take a look at him," explained Tortorella. "I had a chance to talk with him before practice, just to say hello. The ony thought process today was that we wanted to look at him. I don't think he had skated since (last) Wednesday out in Hartford. We had a scheduled practice today and it gave us an opportunity for us to take a look at him also."
After a fractured ankle cost him three months of playing time a year ago---though he still recorded 16 points in 21 games---Fast put together a very strong 2012-13 season with HV71 in the Sedeish Elite League in 2012-13. Fast scored 18 goals, added 17 assists, and finished with 35 points in 47 regular season games. He also scored five power play goals and was a +13, before going 1-4-5 in five post-season contests.
"Hopefully I can bring some speed, and my game is to skate hard and work hard," explained Fast, who skated on a line with Brian Boyle and Taylor Pyatt in practice. "I try and get the puck to the net and hopefully score some goals."
Though his parents spell their last name "Fasth"---the way Jesper was introduced to Rangers fans when drafted in 2010---Jesper explained that his passport always read "Fast", so he changed it for good a year ago.
As for his next step with the Rangers, Fast smiled and shrugged his shoulders, saying simply, "I don't know. I guess I'll find out tomorrow."
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