Emerson Etem will have a long leash for success

Emerson Etem
Etem (Photo: Jerome Miron – USA TODAY Sports)

Through four preseason games, much ire has been directed at newly acquired forward Emerson Etem. The ire isn’t without reason, as Etem has underwhelmed thus far this September, but it comes with a little bit of bias. The Rangers were forced to trade fan favorite Carl Hagelin to Anaheim for Etem for salary cap purposes. Etem is making $850,500 this year. Hagelin signed a four-year, $16 million deal with Anaheim. Money was the sole purpose for this trade.

But the trade has been made, and the Rangers have a former first round pick on their team. Etem was taken 29th overall in 2010, and while draft pedigree might not matter five years later, the skill that made him a first round pick does not fade. The skill is clearly there, and we’ve seen flashes of it. Etem needs to put it all together. The Rangers will be patient while giving him every opportunity to succeed.

We’ve seen flashes of what he can do when his brain catches up to his skill:

emerson etem

Etem uses his speed wide while Kevin Hayes drives to the net. Etem recognizes this, and puts the puck at the net low and hard, knowing this will create a rebound opportunity for Hayes. The Rangers don’t score here, but Etem got them something from nothing.

The numbers for Etem also show improvement from year to year. The 23-year-old has seen his possession numbers increase (45.2%, 48%, 51.9% CF) in each of his first three seasons. His scoring-chance differential also jumped from 48.6% in his first year to 52.7% last season. His offensive zone starts jumped from 52% to 56% and he played with better teammates, which will certainly help his numbers a bit, but it shows Etem can take advantage in the offensive zone.

Like with most non-elite players, when Etem is put in a position to succeed, he’s shown he isn’t a detriment on the ice. Pairing him with potential linemates Hayes and Viktor Stalberg, two very smart players, is an ideal situation for Etem. Compound this with potentially receiving 60% offensive zone starts, and you have a situation where Etem may succeed. Also worth noting that Etem is an excellent skater, and Alain Vigneault’s systems are skating-intensive.

This is all important because the Rangers are banking on Etem to succeed. They didn’t trade Hagelin for him just to give up on him. They certainly aren’t going to cut him from camp, especially since he needs to clear waivers. Any article or call to have him cut or demoted are missing the fact that Etem simply will not clear waivers. It just won’t happen.

The Rangers are going to give Etem a long leash to succeed. It’s pretty funny how people are saying the Rangers need to cut him after a few underwhelming preseason games. Sure, he’s been underwhelming, that’s obvious. But it’s September, and he’s not even one regular season game into his Rangers career. If we are still having this discussion in January or February, then we have a problem. But right now, the Rangers are not going to just cut bait with Etem.

"Emerson Etem will have a long leash for success", 5 out of 5 based on 24 ratings.
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  1. Excellent thoughts on why Emerson should stay! It will cause some tough decisions because there are too many new forwards that will stick. It would seem like the first returning forward to be cut should be Glass. Could there be a thought to trade a Moore or Miller just to make room? Very interesting situation and there are lots of factors and options to consider.

    1. You have no idea about what you are talking about. This is not football where you cut someone an they are not on the payroll after that. Moore is a solid 4th line center who kills penalties an wins faceoffs. Miller has a 25 to 30 goal potential an makes nothing an you want to cut one of these guys for Etem.?????? They both play center an Etem does not. Glass is here for a reason an does not need to dress every game. An right now I see Etem in the same role of possibly not dressing every game.

  2. Good try Emerson. Plus everybody plays and gets a trophy. Plus, he has ONE career highlight real goal.

    Seriously, what he did in that GIF is laughable. I remember my son once did that in a HS and the coach benched him, saying “You realize that puck has a zero percent chance of going in, right?”

    1. Huh? He’s not trying to score on the play. He’s getting the puck to the slot, where Hayes is. He wants Hayes to score.

      Your son’s coach is not a good coach.

  3. “Putting it all together” for Etem likely means flashes of solid skills being demonstrated along with poor on-ice decisions and defensive lapses. Under AV, that usually means 4th line minutes with time in the press box.

    I am anticipating a fairly difficult development process here for Etem since, as I understand it, Etem cannot be sent to Hartford without clearing waivers (which he would not); and AV is not one to give long leashes to prospects who aren’t defensively reliable.

    1. Assuming AV has a 4th line of Lindberg-Moore-Fast, then he can shelter the 3rd line with 65% OZ starts. It limits Etem’s poor decision making until he catches on.

      1. This leaves Stoll out of the picture – this is the problem with Etem not performing, too many others bringing more to the table…

  4. Grear article Dave. Etem is not going anywhere, although I suspect he will be spending a lot of time getting acquainted with the press box cuisine while acclimating.

  5. In a perfect world, Etem would be treated just like Kreider, and Miller, and spend time in the AHL until he learns our system, and could contribute. Now that is in a perfect world, but as indicated, he is waiver eligible, and we don’t want to risk loosing the kid.

    Having said that the ideal spot for the kid is with Hayes, and Stalberg, getting protected minutes on the 3rd line, while still being OJT…

    Etem is pretty good defensively from what I’ve read, so he won’t hurt you there, and with the speed of the two others on the line, we could have something to really get excited about. It’s still the pre season, not everyone breaks their hump until the regular season starts, and he may be one of these players. Bottom line, he will be on this roster, too much potential to let go, will play protected minutes, and will learn the system. If he turns into a dud, well we can anticipate that he gets moved at the dead line, or not be resigned after this season.

      1. Based on what? Etem has shown nothing! Stalberg is iffy at best. Hayes is really the only known quantity in your equation.

    1. Based on his play, your right. Now do we subject him to the waiver wires, and loose him, I think not???????????????????

      1. I think that Gorten needed to think about that chance long before this week. He is a 5th line player on this current team. Just because we made a bad trade doesn’t mean we compound the error by keeping a player who doesn’t deserve to wear our sweater. Let him go.

      2. when you say “I think not??” is that really a question. I don’t understand. And really can we knock off all the punctuation marks, one will do maybe two if you want two if you want to emphasize, but I’m tiring of all the marks after every thought. IMO, makes it hard to give credence to what you say.

    2. Deserve’s got nothing to do with it. Like I wrote before, he can skate with the team, learn the system, then drop him in on the 2nd night of B2B or 3in4 games. That’s only 3 games in the 1st 6 weeks.

      1. Seriously, you let him go after all of 10 days of camp? Knowing that the kid has upside AND he’s trying to learn a totally new system on top of everthng else? A system even some veterans struggle with initially?

        Highly improbable.

        The difference between a guy like Etem and a guy like McIlrath is that it is much easier to give sheltered minutes to a forward than to a defenseman. For that reason, McIlrath is far more vulnerable to being let go then Etem.

        I predict both our 2010 1st rounders will find a way onto the roster as spare parts. AV has a knack for bringing kids along slowly. We will see.

        1. I said it a few days ago, and I will say it again. AV will have Etem flying by January and Etem will become a fan favorite.

          Kid is big, fast, and skilled. He just needs to work on getting his effort level up. Now that he has a real head coach to play for and not a circus act like he played for in Anaheim we will slowly see the real Emerson Etem emerge.

          1. Completely agree Chris A. No one wants to give him a chance, but I do and apparently you too. Yea!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That’s for Walt. 😉

  6. If hes not good enough, and if hes not capable of replacing the top nine forward that he was traded for, then——–you know what——I really don’t care anymore. Let mgmt give him as long a leash as they need to cover up their mistake————its basically their only option. Forced into the trade or not, at least they could have gotten back somebody who could crack the lineup. If not, then they should have gotten picks instead. They’d be in the same boat—but at least they could hang their hat on a potential future talent, and not just current cap relief.

      1. What should we gauge him on, his past stellar performances for the Avalanche?

        A win now team should carry the best 23. Etem isn’t one of the top 23 right now.

        1. SalMerc, I’ve said over and over that I am all about win now, so I get where you are coming from. But why can’t the answer simply be Glass is sent packing, either to Hartford, released or traded, and Etem is 13F until he discovers his game?

          1. I think Glass has more of what AV likes than Etem does at this point. Better is subjective.

      2. I’m not making any decisions. At this point I don’t really care. I just find it amusing that some people on this site are ready to send Etem to Hartford, or put him on a long leash; when most of these same folks were basically calling Etem and Hagelin interchangeable parts. The fact that we traded away a guy who scored a huge goal in gm 7 vs Pit for a guy who couldn’t even get into the lineup in a gm 7 vs Chicago, was lost on these folks—-didn’t even send up any red flags. Now we are left with no proven ‘ready-for-prime-time’ player to replace a top nine forward. All we’re left with is a hope that Etem MIGHT pan out sometime during the season. This from a team who claims to be in a win-now mode? But we got cap- relief, right? That’s something.

        1. It’s truly amazing that a bright individual like yourself can’t seem to grasp a simple concept like a salary cap. Nobody ever said Etem was interchangeable for Hags. It was impossible to keep Hags if you were going to re-sign Zuc and Step. One had to go unfortunately.

          Just like every other team in the NHL, you hopefully replace a third line 35 pt a year player with one of your up and comers in the system. That’s part of the job, to project what your young guys can do.

          Why aren’t you equally concerned about what the loss of MSL will do to the roster? Wasn’t he the Rangers second leading scorer last year? How will we survive without him?

          The same way we survived the year before after we lost Dorsett, Boyle, Stralman and Pouliot. You sign the right guys, you develop your players right, you stay under the cap.

          I concede we will miss Hags’ intangibles and I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a drop off initially in PK effectiveness. But I trust the coaching staff. The formula for replacing key players worked pretty well last year and it likely will again.

          1. well stated!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

            enjoy Joe!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          2. Stop being deliberately dense. For the last time—I get the whole CAP thing. Have from the start. What you fail to recognize is that Mgmt failed to make the hard, tough choices needed regarding Girardi, Staal, Glass and to some extent even Lundqvist. Instead of doleing out money to guys that have shown that they are on the downside—-have the nerve to take the heat from the press and the fans and save a little cash for the actual guys on the team that are worth the investment. How you can continue to give me Mgmts spin on things when they have sacrificed people like Dubi, Callahan and now Hagelin—all core players on anyone’s team,IMO. And still—-havent won a damn thing. Then, to not even get back a comparable return for a top 9 forward; is just bad mgmt. Simple. Now, the explanations and rationalizations regarding Etems lack of impact are starting. ‘He may need some time in Hartford;’ ‘the pk might struggle early on.’ All spin, to cover up a bad trade based solely on mgmts efforts to make up for their mistakes. Now we’re talking about sacrificing a reliable 6th dman in Klein, just so mgmt doesn’t lose McIlrath—their horrendous(so far) #1 pick for nothing? Cmon, wake up. This team is weaker then it was last year—and I don’t see where the help is coming from. As for MSL—-yes they’ll miss him too.. Another guy they are trying to replace with maybes. But cmon’, he WAS DONE!! Not at all comparable with the Hagelin deal.
            Maybe they can package a McIrath and some picks to get something back, but that might be too tough to ask.. Anything they get back would have to fit the cap—and probably would just be a 4th liner.

            Eddie—-I know we go back and forth a lot here, and I think we both enjoy it. But not every response I make is directed at your opinions. There were in fact many on this site that proclaimed their praise for the Hagelin trade and dismissed Hagelin as a fringe player. Even going so far as to say Etem was the better player in the trade because he is bigger. He may very well turn out to be that—-but NOT today. And for a team that is in NOW MODE—thats a bad thing!

            ENJOY THAT ———-WALT!! (;

          3. I do enjoy it Joe! I especially enjoy it when you offer up alternatives as opposed to saying management simply screwed up, which to me is too easy (and to me not really accurate when you consider they’ve been pretty successful these last few years).

            I discussed what I believe to be the flaws in your argument about Girardi, Staal and Glass. Now you are adding Lundqvist to this? Look, he was paid a fortune, no doubt. He gets that and more on the open market. Do you think that any GM lets a future HOF goalie walk to keep the likes of Carl Hagelin?

            I’m also hearing you say you would have spent the dollars to keep Cally and Dubi. Which means of course that you don’t acquire the elite scorer the team desperately needed in Nash (despite his shortcomings come playoff time).

            So a GM Joe roster has Dubinsky at $5.85 mil per through 2021. Callahan at $5.8 mil thorough 2020. Hags at $4 mil through 2019. But no Girardi, no Staal, no Nash, no Lundqvist–therefore, a likely inferior defense. Less goal scoring and worse defense. How does that work exactlyL. Do you think AV would have been willing to coach a team like this? Do you think such a team would have any chance to be a playoff team, let alone the Cup contender it has been these last few years?

            It seems to me you like those grinders. Those heart and soul guys. I do too, in moderation. All you get are guys who skate pretty like Hags, block shots and forecheck. Who puts the puck in the nest with any regularity? How do we keep the puck out of our net without a deep defense and an elite goalie? The biggest problem with the Torts Rangers was we couldn’t score, but we had heart. Is that enough to win in the highly skilled NHL of today? Cally, Dubi and Hags are all nice component pieces, but are over priced and not what you build a championship team around as the feature elements.

            I understand your point. I just vehemently disagree and doubt seriously that any GM would spend the money to keep all three in a hard cap league.

          4. Joe719
            I think Walt meant the “Enjoy That” comment to me, all the exclamation points and all. truth is I did enjoy it. You’re a good man Walt!

    1. Joe, it’s easy to make theoretical trades in a vacuum. Obviously, as we all know, the cap forced this trade. No one in their right mind trades Hags for Etem unless it’s about creating cap space to deal with other needs.

      In terms of what they could have gotten back, I know you love what Hags brings, but try to look at it objectively. Every team in the league knew the Rangers were in a crunch. Hags was a nice piece to have for sure, but every other contender except the Ducks were banging their heads against the cap ceiling like the Rangers were. (And few if any non contenders would want a 35 pt/yr player at $4 mil/4 years who’s best asset his is speed……who’s maybe got another year or two before that speed starts to decline and becomes highly ordinary.). No other contending team would have likely had the ability to sign Hags anymore than the Rangers did.

      So realistically, the Ducks might have been the only option as a trade partner. If that was true, who holds the cards in the deal? Certainly not the Rangers, who everyone knew had to deal Hags. How do you know the Rangers didn’t ask for all draft picks instead of Etem? I think it is likely the Ducks said, ok, we will do this because we have the space to sign Hags, you need to take Etem off our hands and we will also throw in that second rounder.

      Under the circumstances they were in, the Rangers got potential “triple value” for a 35 pt/yr player they would certainly have lost for nothing–cap relief to sign Stepan….check that box (and obviously, that’s the most important component, which in my mind makes the deal at least a wash), the possibility of a 23yo former number one pick becoming something at some point down the road, and a number two in Gropp who might become something further down the road.

      Under the circumstances of what the Rangers had to do, I doubt a better deal was out there.

      1. We’ve been through this ad nauseum. A little more realistic evaluation of the talent on this team and who is more valuable, and who is replaceable would have been nice; well in advance of the decision to trade Hagelin. A little more thought into who should be getting long-term, big money contracts would have been nice. Then they would not be saddled with the Girardis, Staals, and Glass’ of this League. And please, don’t ask me about how this team would have dealt with the loss of a Girardi or a Staal. Every team that has won the Cup over the last 10 years has done it without Girardi or Staal. They were far from irreplaceable. But thats all water under the bridge now. This team is left with a gaping hole on the wing(not to mention the loss of MSL); and barring a trade, we’ll have to hope that Etem can somehow become the player that he has shown no inclination to be. That is not the optimal position for a team that was built for NOW! By the way, how bad is Etem that he can’t even replace a 35 pt player? Kind of a damning indictment if you ask me.

        1. Well, at least you finally, after months of asking, have offered up what you would have done differently. No Glass, no Girardi, no Staal. Ok, I get that.

          Glass to me is meaningless to the debate. He has $1.5 mil cap hit. Hags is making $4 mil. Irrelevant.

          Girardi and/or Staal. I can certainly see the argument there. You are saying, keep Hags and pass on one of the two defenseman. It’s a valid point, but it is flawed for two reasons–

          1) The Girardi deal was done at a time when there was great uncertainty about whether Staal could still be effective after his serious eye injury. And, I’m not sure they were sure what they really had with Stralman at the time of the deal. Once Stralman was not kept and Staal proved healthy again, then they felt compelled to resign Staal too.

          2) ok, so let’s say that analysis was a mistake….signing Staal AND Girardi long term for big dollars. It’s a fair point that many share, and I’m worried as well that those deals might look ugly down the road. So no, I am not gong to ask how in the world we could have gotten along without Staal or Girardi. What I AM going to ask is this…don’t you think it is highly likely that the Rangers, if they had passed on one or the other, or both, would have used those funds to sign veteran defensive players who could fill their roles?

          It sounds like what you are saying Joe is that you value what a 3rd line 35pt/yr player brings to the table more than what a top pair defenseman brings, and if so, that makes you an outlier compared to 30 GMs in the league. If the Rangers had taken your suggested approach, we’d have Hags and then a revolving door of bargain players on defense. Do you honestly believe that’s preferable, and that we’d have a prayer of even being a playoff team that way?

          Whatever one might think of the relative skills of Staal and Girardi, the price tag for defensemen is higher than it is for a third line winger who’s main skill, speed, will likely deteriorate before his contract is concluded.

          The NHL hard cap isn’t fun. It isn’t pleasant. But it’s a reality that most fans have accepted. You’d be wise to do the same my friend.

          1. Always Do Walt! LOL, no offense intended my friend, believe it or not I give you a lot of thumbs ups!

        2. This guy is clearly bating you guys! no way he believes what he says, unless he is an A**, but he could be. his arguments seem to correspond to that…just thinking out loud!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  7. Etem, Stoll, and Stalberg are all still getting use to the system.

    Tanner Glass is in his 3rd season as an AV system Ranger, and he STILL sucks! Glass NEEDS to be the cut.

    I don’t know if Etem plays opening night, but he’s a MUCH better option than Glass

    1. Technically, it’s Glass’s second Rangers season. But agree. I certainly would go with Etem over Glass.

  8. I’d just like to remind you all how long it took the entire team to learn AV’s system. Remember that first few months a couple of years ago? When we had trouble breaking 500 up until Christmas? After 4 preseason games, it’s way too early to give up on this kid. Chill, y’all.

  9. Whether he turns into a player or not remains to be seen but right now there is no place for him if Lindberg plays regularly so he sits in the press box as an injury replacement.

  10. Good write up on this guy. One positive is he is a better player than Glass. It’s something. I live near Anaheim and have seen this kid play a bit when he was up with the big team. He does have a good skill set, but never really looked great with the Ducks. Out of place is probably the best way to describe him. He also did not make the most out of his chances. Hoping that can change with the Rangers. Although it has not come through yet.
    Keep something in mind. AV’s system is great and exciting to the fan, but it’s not an easy system to comprehend. Remember 2013-14 season start. Train wreck would be an understatement. 6-0 vs Ducks then off to SJ to lose 9-2 I think? No one was getting his system when he first came on board. In fact it was not until right before XMAS when they came from behind to beat Minnesota at MSG that the team seemed to finally have bought in to and understood the system. So we have a guy who has had the Miller treatment by Anaheim management brought in and not playing well in preseason and it’s over. Under that protocol AV would have been fired 10 games in to his first season. Give it some time. He’s not Carl Hagelin and never will be. But he has some skills, namely size and a willingness to hang around in front of the net that can really add to this year’s line up. and he costs $3.15 mill less and that is why he is here. He should make the team over Glass.

    1. He also wasn’t put in a position to succeed from what I’ve read. They played Etem up, and down the line up, and rally wasn’t given a real shot to prove himself. I’m not saying he will be an all star, but if it’s between him, or Glass, AMF Glass, your history ……………

  11. One thing you are not correct about is the presumption that the Rangers are counting on Etem to succeed. That would be insane. You have a kid with three years under his belt who wasn’t good enough to dress for the playoffs, Washout has to be considered a real possibility.

    He really is in the same class as McIlrath — lots of upside, not too much to show for it. You don’t put such players on waivers without a great deal of thought. But sometimes you do. I’m guessing this isn’t the time for Etem to go, but it is just not unthinkable.

    Bottom line: Etem is not supposed to be a player who is not quite as good as Hagelin. Such players aren’t needed. He is someone who may be as good or better than Hags if all goes right – or may be a washout if it doesn’t.

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