End the Emerson Etem experiment, and go trade for Jonathan Drouin

Bobby Bevilacqua

Etem and Drouin

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos and the Tampa Bay Lightning.

In the offseason, the Rangers made a trade with the Anaheim Ducks in order to help manage against the salary cap. Fan favorite Carl Hagelin had his RFA rights traded to the Ducks, and Gorton got young prospect Emerson Etem’s rights.

Emerson Etem had been buried in Anaheim’s system for a while, and when he did play on the NHL team, he was usually relegated to the fourth line. A trade to the Rangers presented an opportunity for him to finally get his opportunity to breakout and cement his spot on an NHL roster.

But a horrible training camp and preseason set the tone for the season, and Etem has not impressed the team or management throughout the season. In 19 games this season, Etem has tallied just three assists and a minus four rating.

In the offseason, he talked about how he worked on winning puck battles in open ice and along the boards. But that’s actually been one of his weaknesses this season. Despite his large frame and strength, he’s been tossed around along the boards and forced into turnovers all over the ice. His supposed biggest strength is one of the things that has hurt him and the team the most.

With Alain Vigneault scratching Kevin Hayes for the second straight game, Etem played on the third line last night. And he had arguably the worst game as a Ranger. He committed a terrible turnover at his own blue line on the first Panthers goal, was all over the ice and way out of defensive position on the second Panthers goal, and he took a hooking penalty that led to the third Florida goal. He finished -2 with one shot on goal and just 6:38 of ice time.

I’m a proponent for analytics and the so-called “fancy-stats,” and the analytics crowd have been praising his possession skills and upside. But this is an instance where I really disagree. Courtesy of war-on-ice.com (and my friends over at fulltiltrangers.com), Etem currently has a corsi rating of 47% and averages 11:05 of ice time.

On the other hand, Tanner Glass has been just as good as Etem but constantly gets criticized for his play. Glass has a corsi of 46.7% and averages just 10:17 a night. On top of that, he has scored a goal, has just one less point than Etem, is much more physical and is actually a better defensive player. Despite what people say, Glass deserves to be in the lineup over Etem, and he’s earned the playing time. His impact on the game is far greater than Etem’s.

Etem has also been given chances to succeed. When Rick Nash was out, Etem played on the top line and wasn’t effective. He’s been on the second and third line multiple times, and hasn’t played well their either. He has honestly played his best on the fourth line in sheltered minutes, which isn’t a good sign or someone expected to be a big offensive producer.

Since the Rangers practically got Etem for nothing, and actually were able to move up in the draft, it was a low risk, high reward move that didn’t pan out. But there’s still a way for the Rangers to get some utilization out of him.

Today, TSN’s Bob McKenzie announced that Jonathan Drouin, one of Tampa Bay’s best prospects, has demanded a trade out of the Lightning organization. He actually requested one in November, but his agent made it public after Drouin was sent down to the AHL again.

Last season, Drouin played 70 regular season games, scoring four goals and 28 assists. He played in just six playoff games and didn’t register a point. Drouin has scored over 100 points in the QMJHL twice. He’s been praised for his on ice creativity, fantastic hands and great vision. He has a good shot but is best used as a playmaker (EliteProspects).

Drouin has played 19 games this season and tallied eight points (2-6-8). He’s mostly been a fourth line player despite his immense upside. The triplets, Steven Stamkos and the expensive Ryan Callahan have clogged the top nine, and head coach Jon Cooper is unwilling to play him there.

This is where the Rangers could move in. Ship out Emerson Etem, maybe another piece or two, and get Drouin from the Lightning. It would be a move that would swap two players that just aren’t getting a shot for each other.

The Rangers could really use Drouin right now. Trading for a winger like Radim Vrbata or James van Riemsdyk will require draft picks or prospects that the Rangers simply can’t afford to give up. With Drouin, you’d get a talented prospect for much cheaper, and a guy who will give 100% to prove that he belongs in the NHL.

The Rangers also have a vacancy on the second line right wing spot, filled by Martin St. Louis last year. Emerson Etem, Kevin Hayes, JT Miller and Jesper Fast have not effectively filled it. Miller has been the best of the bunch, and is more consistent now, but he was struggling with consistency earlier in the season. Also, he’s fitting in pretty well with Brassard and Zuccarello.

Drouin is a left winger by trade, but I doubt he’d have a problem switching to the right side. His playmaking skills would be really beneficial with Kreider or Nash on the left wing, and Stepan at center. It’s a perfect situation for him and a potential problem solver for the Rangers.

Tyler Sequin was a talented young prospect who showed a lot of skill and promise with the Boston Bruins. But because of apparent behavior issues and needing to shed some salary, he was traded to the Dallas Stars. Seguin scored 84 point in his first season there and has scored 74 goals in the last two seasons.

I truly think Drouin can do something very similar. In my opinion, Jonathan Drouin will become a star the moment he joins a team that is ready to let him be one.

So Jeff Gorton, let Drouin be a star for the Rangers.

Posted on January 3, 2016, in In the Crease and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. kevin mccarthy

    this will not work EE has a higher salary and the bolts are almost as tight to the cap as NYR I’d love for this to happen but doubt it


  2. How about Kevin Hayes for Drouin?


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