Thoughts following the Emerson Etem/Nicklas Jensen trade

Jensen (Photo: HockeysFuture)
Jensen (Photo: HockeysFuture)

In case you missed it, the Rangers and Canucks swapped Emerson Etem for Nicklas Jensen yesterday. While most saw an Etem trade coming at some point, the fact that it came together yesterday was a bit of a surprise. The Rangers announced there was a transaction with Etem after he was not at practice and while many speculated a trade, Etem was sent on a conditioning assignment. The trade didn’t break until later in the afternoon. And here we are, with Jensen and a 2017 sixth round pick.

1. The trade marked the end of the unspectacular Rangers career of Etem, who played in just 19 games after being acquired for Carl Hagelin. Jensen, who was also a late first round pick a year later, has yet to make an impact at the NHL level. Jensen needed a change of scenery, and Etem needed playing time that he wasn’t getting in New York. This was a classic trade of assets that needed to move on from their current clubs. Nothing less, nothing more. For the Canucks, they get a potential middle-six forward with great tools that hasn’t put it all together.

2. In Jensen, the Rangers get a first round talent that also hasn’t put it all together yet. The 6’2″, 190-lb right-winger (left-handed shot) has spent the last two seasons in the AHL at about a half-point-per-game pace. He’s not a goal scorer, but his assists per game have gone up. His claim to fame is that he’s the best hockey product Denmark has ever produced. Not sure if that’s a good thing, though. The Rangers also clear Etem’s $850,500 cap hit, which is not a minor detail.

3. Jensen will be in the AHL for a while, and may serve as the next injury call up if needed. I wouldn’t expect too much out of him. He’s a bit of a reclamation project at this point. For now, the Hagelin trade depends on how Ryan Gropp develops. It was a cap dump to begin with, but it makes you wonder what else was out there for Glen Sather before he made this deal. Perhaps the Rangers weren’t banking on Etem at all, and just wanted Gropp. We won’t really know for sure.

4. I don’t think Etem ever got a fair shake in New York. He very rarely played, and when he did he was mostly on the fourth line. He had flashes of solid play, but was very inconsistent with some very glaring turnovers. That said, he had relatively decent possession numbers, coming in at -0.08 CF rel (47.01 CF%). Jesper Fast, Viktor Stalberg, Tanner Glass, and Dominic Moore all have worse possession numbers, both raw and relative. Etem was also victimized by a team worst 96.7 PDO, which comes from a team worst 7.14 on-ice SH% (team’s SH% with him on the ice) and .895 on-ice SV%. Basically, the team didn’t shoot well (expected, considering his linemates) and got poor goaltending (not expected, considering some of his linemates) while he was on the ice.

5. People may point to his on-ice SV% at .895 and say that he was a defensive liability. He’s no defensive stud, that’s for sure, but one of his primary linemates –Moore– had a .940 on-ice SV%. Sometimes it’s just luck. I expect that goaltending number to even out over the course of the season. Personally, I think a little more patience would have been nice. The Rangers, however, don’t have that luxury. They are a win-now team and don’t have time for growing pains. We are also seeing this with Dylan McIlrath.

6. Trying to preempt some of the “Now I won’t have to hear about him anymore” comments, it’s worth noting that the main reason why most wanted to see him play wasn’t so much about Etem himself, but about the process. There were players on the roster that were getting playing time, despite playing worse than Etem. If the goal is to play the best team, then the process was broken. It wouldn’t matter if it were Etem, Jensen, or any other young player. The process has been broken for a while this season. That was the major issue, not so much benching Etem.

It only took six months for the Rangers to move on from Etem. At the time of the trade, it looked like Etem was their target. Perhaps the thinking should shift to Gropp being the target, and Etem being a throw-in. It is what it is at this point, it was a disappointing 19 games for Etem. Let’s see what Jensen can do, if he makes it to the NHL on a regular basis.

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  • If you look at Etem’s twitter account you can clearly see he’s a moron who is not dedicated. Kreider is trending the same way. Vancouver is one of the worst teams in hockey at developing young players so maybe the Rangers stole something here.

  • I have a big problem with this statement:

    “His claim to fame is that he’s the best hockey product Denmark has ever produced. Not sure if that’s a good thing, though.”

    Say what?

    Where does that leave Jannik Hansen, Frans Nielsen, Frederik Andersen, Lars Eller, Mikkel Bødker and Nikolaj Ehlers? Even Peter Regin and Philip Larsen has done better than Nicklas Jensen in their NHL career. You might even include Poul Popiel from “back-in-the-days”.

    Eller, Bødker and Ehlers were all draftet in the first half of the first round, so the statement is not even true on sort of a prospect kind-of-scale.

    A little research could have been helpsome.

    • I think you’re being a lil too hard on Dave for his statement “not sure if it’s a good thing” Granted, some of those players were or are decent average players. It’s not like as if Wayne Gretzky or even a Tomas Sandstrom were drafted out of Denmark.

      I’m a big fan of Frans Neilsen though. Also, the recent kids that were drafted seem to be a higher grade of player. So like Norway and Switzerland etc, the quality of players are going up in the big leagues, I’ll give you that.

      However, to accuse Dave of “lack of research” is downright blasphemy! Especially, when he had just said he was a bit out of the loop lately.

  • The Hags ‘trade’ was some hopefully productive assets for not paying a 3rd liner $4M/yr. Gropp may be something though more than likely not.
    A hard cap era necessity that hasnt worked out for either side ‘hockeywise’. Financially Hags and his agent scored abig payday given his position and offensive output.

  • I agree that the goal is to put the best team on the ice. I vehemently disagree that that best team included Etem. You seem to have the same unfathomable attachment to Etem that you accuse AV of having to Tanner Glass. You can cite all the “fancy stats” you want and engage in whatever special pleading for Etem’s lack of production – it was his line mates fault, it was bad luck, etc. On which I have to call bullshit.

    Being out of shape and underwhelming in preseason was not the fault of Etem’s teammates or the coaching staff and it sure wasn’t bad luck. Not showing much in the opportunities he did get is on Etem, no one else. Plenty of guys played on the fourth line and when the team was playing poorly, not only this season but in previous seasons and were able to earn their spots on the team. The bottom line is that Etem was not treated more “unfairly” than anyone else.

    Viktor Stalberg has played mostly on the same line and in the same situations as Etem and while I’m not really a fan of his he has shown more than Etem did (you know, like actual goals, fore checking, forcing turnovers). And Jesper Fast, while he as regressed some from last year, has certainly earned some tolerance from AV based on past performance. As for Dominic Moore – are you kidding? Do you really think Etem should have the same amount of rope as Dominic Moore? Based on what? A smattering of spread sheet calculations? And Moore was benched for a couple of games so its not like AV has shown him inordinate favoritism.

    I admit that I was intrigued by Etem after the trade but after watching him play I didn’t see much “there there” (to paraphrase Gertrude Stein). For his sake I hope things work out for him in Vancouver. He has talent, for sure but the bottom line on a contending team is performance. Its not “unfair” for a new guy without a track record to have to earn the trust of the coaching staff, to be given less rope than guys who have already earned that trust or to have make the most of limited opportunities. Other guys have run that gauntlet and earned their playing time. Etem never did.

    • Again, Roadrider just nailed it and stole my thunder before I could post essentially the same thing.

      Dave, this isn’t specifically directed at you, but my biggest pet peeve on this site is the tendency to blame coaches or managers for the failings of players. I guess as a manager of a major organization myself, I’m sensitive to that. Those in charge are responsible first and foremost to winning (however “winning” is defined). Developing talent is part of that equation for sure, but it can’t come at the expense of winning.

      And I don’t understand this crazy notion that all personnel must be treated the same? What successful organization does that? Maybe the checkout guys at the supermarket are all treated the same, I don’t know. But every coach, manager, leader, what have you, have people that they implicitly trust more than others. Trust is earned. It is not automatically given.

      Roadrider is correct. By all accounts, Etem was allegedly out of shape and unprepared. He failed in Anaheim. He had plenty of opportunities to shine in the pre-season games and he failed to do so. What exactly did he do to earn AV’s trust?

      Has playing time for him been tough to come by? Sure. But same for McIlrath. I was skeptical of DMC at first (only because I thought he was overhyped out here, and I still feel he is to an extent). But I got to tell you, he’s everything I’d want if I was a coach or a manager in this regard….He may not get a lot of time, but he stays ready. And when he is called upon, he’s been effective. What more can you ask out of a young player?

      So while I can’t verify this for sure, it certainly appears that McIlrath worked his tail off to get better and was rewarded for it by sticking. He effectively showed AV and Gorton that he was a better option at 7D then Diaz. Good for him. Etem seemingly did exactly the opposite. So who’s fault is that?

      And I want to say, this isn’t specifically about AV and Gorton. Even though I was no fan of Torts or Keenan’s abrasive style, I feel the same way about players who failed to perform under those regimes. Some of you out here must think these pro athletes are so mentally weak, that if they are not treated “fairly”, whatever the heck that means, then their failure to perform is somehow on the coach. Ludicrous.

      The player needs to look in the mirror. I don’t care how much time you get or what line you are on, or what the coach does or doesn’t do to you. It’s just a bunch of excuses. If you are talented and work hard, you have a chance to impress in every practice and every time you take shift. And if you do that, you will earn trust and eventually get more opportunities when the time is right. McIlrath is blocked right now simply because AV has three right handed d-men he trusts more based on recent past experience and success, that’s all. And that’s reasonable.

      Etem’s failure at two stops thus far is not on Boudreau. And it’s not on AV. It is largely on his shoulders. If he wants to have a long, successful and lucrative NHL career, he had better look in the mirror and figure it out–and fast.

      Let’s stop making excuses for Miller last year and Hayes this year, two other guys with apparent work ethic issues. You earn time and trust by your actions. Period.

      • The only thing I would add to this is that it is time to address DMC being blocked because he is right-handed.

        DMC’s attitude, preparation, his play in games, and his now seemingly improved outlook has earned him a spot. At this point he is lacking NHL game experience and not much else.

        Klein has been solid – (remember everyone ranting about trading Klein coming out of preseason?) Girard’s contract is problematic, and Boyle is finally looking well like Boyle but he won’t be resigned.

        Here is my solution – look to Tampa now for Boyle to finish as a Bolt. They love him here and he has what they need.

        Including him with something for Drouin would be wonderful but who knows where that’s going. Tampa has a lot of young talent and even a decent draft pick would not be bad for Boyle’s age and contract status.

        This not only opens up a spot for DMC – it also clears Boyle’s minutes on the PP which would logically got to Yandle which would ease all of the angst of you Yandle-lovers 🙂

        By the way, Yandle’s growing on me a bit – his play of late has been good. Gorton’s remarks on Yandle were very interesting – this is definitely a tough one…..

        • It’s an interesting idea Swarty. But I suspect there’d be about 1/10th of 1% chance of happening.

          Boyie has a full NMC. No chance he will agree to waive it unless the Rangers go into a full and complete meltdown and they bail on the season. Improbable.

          The Rangers PP has been in a bit of a slump of late, but when it was clicking, Boyle was an integral part of it. On the whole, he’s played well. Remember, the Rangers defesmemen are among the best teams in the league in terms of generating offensive chances. With the forwards struggling, there’s huge value in that. Again, to win a Cup this year, if that remains a goal, I do not believe the Rangers would want to trade Boyle specifically to get McIlrath in there. It makes us more physical, but I don’t know if that really makes us better.

          Lastly, TB I believe has pretty significant cap issues. Why would they take on Boyle’s contract, even if the Rangers agreed to pick up 50%? The Rangers would likley get nothing back of value. And I’m sure with the cap space they have, the Bolts would prefer to make other deals to upgrade.

          I just don’t see it at all.

          • Eddie – 1/10 of 1% huh? You must have a direct line into Boyle and his agent for you to have that much certainty.

            I’m very aware of Boyle’s, G’s, Staal’s, NMC clause. That is why I try and understand where a player might “agree” to go.

            I’m sure you know that Boyle spent 6 yrs. in Tampa and won The Cup here in 2004. I also assume you know that for awhile he lived here during the offseason even though he no longer played here. And while it doesn’t have much bearing, Boyle is also revered by the Tampa fan base as the poster-boy for the “dark-years” of The Lightning when he was traded during their new ownership purge in 2008 (He did not want to go.)

            The Rangers and the Lightning have a lot of stuff going on internally so quite honestly I think anything is possible at this point. I don’t think anyone can say for sure that one, the other, or either of the two teams will even make the playoffs at this point.

            Who knows, maybe the Lightning sign Stamkos and trade Drouin and they start jelling just around the time of the trade deadline. Perhaps then they are looking for a puck-moving defensemen who has been historically strong on the PP as the missing piece for their Cup Run. And with only six weeks left in the season at the deadline his cap number doesn’t have much bearing.

            This Lightning team remains almost identical to the one that went to the finals last year. They have had a lot of injuries and are just starting to get everyone healthy so as a hockey destination and with Stamkos on the team – whether he is signed or NOT traded – they would seem to be attractive for guys looking for a chance to win one more Cup.

            The point is who knows – but yes, I do think there is a STRONG chance of him agreeing to come back and finish in Tampa IF that scenario is ever presented.

          • I can see your point about Boyle and his attachment to Tampa. But it’s the cap element that is what influenced my “percentage”. I think the Bolts have about $2 mil in space. 50% of Boyle’s hit is $2.25 mil. I realize other maneuverings could happen, but why would TB do that? if I’m Yzerman, I’d have to believe there would be better options.

            And, I think it weakens the Rangers offensive production, so I don’t know if it really makes us any better by having him leave. Just seems almost impossible.

            Ok you’ve convinced me….2/10th of 1 percent. 🙂

  • Hags is never going to be the prototype scorer – but the skills he brought to the NYR – speed, forechecking – were things that kept pressure on opponents and all of that went to Anaheim with him – not to mention that elusive “chemistry.”

    However in the cap world it is difficult to pay a lot for that type of skill.

    I don’t think Etem was a fit – and I disagree that he was misused. He would have benefited from some regular time in Hartford but of course the waiver rule would not let that happen.

    At this point we’ve have Gropp, another former 1st rounder in Jensen, and a 6th round pick for Hags. Overall that is not a bad haul. It’s time to close the books on this one….

  • Etem had a chance in preseason and showed nothing. He was only kept around because they couldn’t demote him. The deal to Vancouver is a worthwhile exercise in cutting losses.

  • Just a thought, can it be that Hags is having such a bad season because he misses his two buds, Brass, and Zucc???????? Those three guys did everything together!!!!!!!!!

    The book should be closed on Hags, as suggested, because he, and the organization were in a tight cap crunch, and he was the odd man out. In hindsight, they signed the wrong player long term, that being Staal, for big money, and term. I believe that will haunt this team for years to come……….

    • I think it’s fair, Walt. I think Hags fit really well with those guys and particular thrived in AV’s system. Just unfortunate.

      Only thing I would disagree is the premise that you could have kept Hags if Staal hadn’t been retained. They almost certainly would have either retained Stralman or gone after another defenseman. Hags wasn’t worth a long term big money extension, as much as we liked him and miss him.

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