Emerson Etem ready for bigger role and new challenges
With salary cap constraints and guys like Derek Stepan looking for long-term contracts (potentially very expensive), the Rangers were almost forced to trade away Carl Hagelin, a dependable, strong possession winger that has anchored the Rangers third line since 2011. However, Jeff Gorton was still able to bring in a young player with a lot of potential.
Emerson Etem, born in Long Beach, California, was selected in the first round of the 2010 NHL draft by the Anaheim Ducks, keeping him in the state that he grew up in, and allowing family and friends to watch him begin his professional hockey career.
While that makes for a great story, things did not work out as Etem hoped, bouncing between the NHL and AHL affiliate Norfolk over the past three seasons, never playing more than 45 games with the Ducks in a single year.
Despite having an immense amount of talent and skill, and a past history of scoring (61-46-107 in his final year of Junior Hockey), the Ducks never game him a real chance at cracking the top-nine, let alone a role as a top-six forward. He was buried on the fourth line with less-skilled teammates, which would explain why he had just 10 points (5-5-10) in 45 games this season, and 31 points (15-16-31) in 112 career games.
Now across the country, with a new team and a new opportunity, Etem now has the chance to immediately jump into a top-nine forward role according to Rangers GM Jeff Gorton.
“It was a great experience playing at home, having my friends and family close by all the time,” Etem explained in an interview with Jim Cerny. “But I think it will be just as good to move away, be more on my own, and play on the biggest stage in New York City. I am really excited to be here.”
When watching or reading any interviews with Etem after he came to the Rangers, he has a great attitude about being in a new environment, and seems genuinely happy and excited to be in New York. He also realizes that he will now have a chance to take on a bigger role, and use his skills to show what kind of player he can really be.
“Right now, I really haven’t had the opportunity to break out offensively,” Etem said. “I feel like over the course of the summer, with training and all of that, I should come into cap ready to go. Like I said, anything they ask me to do, any role they want me to play, I’m going to play. I play a speed game, and I think that’s what this team is looking for.”
“Obviously my strengths are my speed. With guys like Kreider, the list goes on and on. With the loss of Hagelin, who’s a speed guy, I’m looking to obviously fill that role. At the same time, whatever they want me to do, I’m gonna do. I feel like I can play versatile. I can play the physical game.”
One of the things that Hagelin was able to do well is use his speed to force opponents to back off, creating more space on the ice for his teammates. You might find yourself saying the same thing about Etem throughout the season.
While he doesn’t have the same speed as Hagelin (not many people do), Etem is a very powerful skater that can blow by a lot of the defensemen in the league. Like Kreider, he is a very powerful skater with strong strides. Once he builds up momentum and speed, it’ll be really hard to stop him.
On top of his skating ability, Etem also possess size and strength. At 6’1” and 206 pounds, he’s more than capable of battling along the boards, shielding defenders from the puck and battling in front of the net. He’s not afraid to throw the body, and the combination of physicality and skill makes him unique.
Etem will not be buried on the fourth line, and I really doubt that he will be in Hartford at all, which has to be reassuring for him. With Hagelin and St. Louis now gone, the Rangers need their younger players like JT Miller, Jesper Fast and Emerson Etem to step up and help fill the void.
“I’m looking to obviously have a big year,” said Etem. “It’s exciting, it’s a new opportunity for me. It’s something I want to take full advantage of. I’m going to do everything it takes to show the fans the style of game that I feel is exciting and electrifying.”
Etem has a tremendous work ethic, and seems ready to capitalize on his chance to finally break into a more offensive role. He definitely has the skill to be a solid contributor on the third line, and grow under the guidance of Alain Vigneault. AV has helped guys like Miller and Fast really develop and improve this season, and I think he should be able to do the same with Etem.
“When we played New York last year, (there were) a lot of stretch passes – especially in the neutral zone,” Etem said, referring to both Rangers wins over the Ducks by scores of 4-1 and 7-2. “Off the rush, they were quick. For me, being a speed guy, I’m looking forward to that. This is a great system for me to play in.”
Don’t be surprised if Etem becomes a regular contributor in the Rangers top-nine next season. He has the talent, the determination, and the opportunity to cement himself in the Rangers’ roster.
Posted on July 8, 2015, in In the Crease and tagged Alain Vigneault, Carl Hagelin, Emerson Etem, Etem Rangers, Etem trade, Hagelin trade, Madison Square Garden, Martin St. Louis, MSG, New York Rangers, New York Rangers blog, NYR, Rangers, Rangers blog. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.