Player Name/position: Emerson Etem, RW
Overall Grade: A-
Contract Status: Entry Level contract, 1st year (2012-13) $870,000 cap hit
2013 Stats: 3 goals, 7 assists, 10 points; 38 games played. plus-7, 11:27 avg TOI/Game
Offense: I’ll be honest, I didn’t expect much from Emerson Etem. I know a lot of it has to do with his off-beat skating style and, even as much, a roller hockey turned ice hockey product of Southern California. I figured I’d just be prideful in seeing this SoCal native play in a few NHL games and let it be that. But as the season progressed, and as I waited and hoped we’d see him score an NHL goal, he ended up impressing me more and more as each and every awkward leaning stride up the ice. In my book, Etem exceeded all expectations even before he broke through the scoring wall. Not only was his physical play surprising, his speed and confidence while skating with the puck was a pleasant upside and compliment to players like Teemu Selanne and Anderw Cogliano.
Defense: If Etem exceeded expectations offensively, he more than exceeded them on defense. I felt confident in knowing that whatever line he was on that trio was going to cause chaos in the opponents zone. I loved seeing him out there playing top penalty killing minutes and he was directly responsible for a few of the Ducks shorties this season. The glorifying part of Etem’s play was that he really did make the most of every on-ice situation and it meant that he was capable of making those around him better as well.
Highlight of the Season: Aside from the break through goal that he scored and the love that he garnered from Anaheim fans in doing so, it was the way he embraced his teammates and stood up for them when needed. The following is from Hockeyfights.com and it came after a brutal hit on Ducks forward Kyle Palmieri, it also inspired the tweet mentioned above.
Expectations for Next Year: I am going to go the confident route and say that Etem is a fighter (and I don’t mean in an "enforcer" sort of way). Just because he’s had an impressive and enthusiastic first season in the NHL doesn't mean he's guaranteed to continue to progress without some serious effort. However, I don’t believe we’ll see him collapse into a sophomore slump. In fact, I think we can point to the post-season as a reason why he’ll continue to improve. As the pressure mounted for Etem, he became stronger. He was one of the best forwards for Anaheim, if not THE best, in the post-season. His goal scoring came late in the season, and therefore so did his increased confidence. I think he’ll be fortunate to come into season two with a little less pressure on his shoulders and a little more room for growth. And, perhaps, a new number.
I really hope we see some increased defensive opportunities for Etem, and I have a strong feeling the Ducks will be looking to fill a few right-winger open slots. There is no reason that Etem isn't capable of playing with the big boys, as it seemed like the stronger his linemates were, the stronger Etem was. This kid knows he's got a lot to prove and a long way to go before he's considered a regular impact player, but if he can continue to grow in the manner we've already seen from him in a short amount of time, the Ducks and their fans are in for a real treat.