NHL Rookie Preview: Emerson Etem
Emerson Etem destroyed the WHL last season, scoring 61 goals. Can he crack the Anaheim Ducks roster this season in a scoring role?
Emerson Etem is a 6’0 194lb American right-winger in the Anaheim Ducks organization. Etem, born in Long Beach, California, started out in the U.S. National Team Development Program Under-17 Team in 2008-2009 where he had 45 points (23-22) in 50 games. The next year, instead of going to the NCAA like most Americans, Etem went to the Western Hockey League’s Medicine Hat Tigers after they drafted him 115th overall in the 2007 Bantam Draft. In his first season in the WHL, Etem tallied 65 points (37-28) in 72 games. His 37 goals led all WHL rookies in goals that year. That performance was good enough to get his hometown Anaheim Ducks to take him in the first round, 29th overall. In his 2nd WHL season, Etem improved in all offensive categories in fewer games as he produced 80 points (45-35) in 65 games. This past season, Etem exploded for 107 points (61-46) in just 65 games. Etem was the first WHL player in 11 seasons to reach the 60-goal mark. Etem also played 2 games for the Ducks AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch where he had 1 point (a goal). Etem has also played 12 games for the U.S. Under-20 Team in the World Junior Hockey Championships. In those 12 games, Etem had just 5 points (1-4). In 34 playoff games in the WHL, Etem had a total of 44 points (24-20).
Clearly the most obvious strength of Etem’s game is his goal scoring ability. Going into his draft year, Etem already had an NHL ready wrist shot, that’s extremely accurate as evidenced by his very high goal totals (143 goals in 202 games in the WHL). Etem is one of the fastest skaters coming into the NHL this season which helps him get up the ice to score many highlight goals. Etem is a very hard worker and will go into the dirty areas to score goals. His defensive game is underrated as well. With his speed he is able to get back quickly and makes the right plays on defense. Etem is committed to becoming a full-time NHL player, and will stop at nothing to become a star.
If you’ve ever watched Etem play, you’ll notice his skating stride is a little awkward and unorthodox. Etem skates hunched over and has his head down which could lead to big open ice hits against him. Since he’s already an even 6 feet tall, skating hunched over like Etem does makes him look even smaller. Despite playing in the rough WHL, Etem is not a very physical player which could hinder him a little bit in the pro game.
The Anaheim Ducks are loaded at wing with Corey Perry, Bobby Ryan, Devante Smith-Pelly, and Teemu Selanne, but Etem’s skill can not be overlooked and could push Smith-Pelly into a bottom six role with the Ducks so Etem can utilize his natural scoring talent better in a top six role. He may begin the season in the AHL to get him accustomed to the pro game, but it won’t be long before Etem finds his way into the Anaheim Ducks lineup and begins to score on opponents.