The New York Rangers have signed forward Jesper Fasth, their sixth-round draft pick from the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.
The 20-year-old Fasth scored five goals and recorded a career-high 11 assists in 21 games this season for HV71 Jonkoping of the Swedish Elite League. It was his second full year in the league.
The Rangers have found considerable success in recent years with late-round draft picks from Sweden. Henrik Lundqvist, the team's most valuable player for the last six seasons and a finalist for the Hart Trophy and the Ted Lindsay Award as the league's most outstanding player and the Vezina Trophy as the league's top goaltender, was the 205th overall pick in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft. Rookie forward Carl Hagelin has some work to do before he approaches that level of impact, but the native of Sodertalje, Sweden certainly proved to be a late-round gem in his rookie year, scoring 14 goals and recording 24 assists in 64 games for the Blueshirts, who won the Atlantic Division title and advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals this season before bowing out to the New Jersey Devils.
The Rangers' Swedish contingent also includes defenseman Tim Erixon, who was born in New York while his father Jan was playing for the Rangers, but came up through the Swedish Elite League and Skelleftea HC before making his Rangers debut this season. Erixon played 18 games for the Rangers this past season, recording two assists, and recorded three goals and 30 assists in 52 games for the Connecticut Whale of the AHL. He'll look to build on that performance in 2012-13, while countryman and fellow blueliner Anton Stralman, who scored two goals and handed out 16 assists in 53 regular-season games before contributing three goals and three assists in the playoffs, is a restricted free agent whose fate for the 2012-13 season is uncertain.
Fasth's greatest attributes are his speed and offensive skill, qualities that helped make Hagelin a near-instant success with the Rangers this past season, and qualities that are perpetually in demand on Broadway. It remains to be seen how well Fasth's success in Sweden will translate to the North American game, but two years after drafting him, the Rangers are ready to find out.