In a non-surprising move, the Rangers announced today that they have sent down forward Emerson Etem to Hartford on a conditioning assignment. He should be with the Wolf Pack for 14 days.
Hopefully, Etem can rediscover his game. Since coming over last summer for Carl Hagelin in a 2015 Draft swap that allowed the Rangers to move up in the second round and select Ryan Gropp at number 41, he’s been a disaster. In 19 games, he has yet to score a goal and has just three assists.
Anyway you slice it, that’s awful. Even if you disagree with Alain Vigneault’s usage of Etem, there’s no way anyone can dispute how inconsistent he’s been. His best work has come on the fourth line. The trouble is he’s a former first round pick. At 23, he finds himself at a crossroads. In 131 career NHL games, he’s totaled 15 goals and 19 assists for 34 points.
When Vigneault has given Etem opportunities on the top line and recently the third line, he’s failed to impress. His game last weekend in a 3-0 loss at Florida resulted in a seat in the press box. Hartford recall Jayson Megna fit in well with Derek Stepan and Rick Nash scoring in his Rangers debut while also assisting on a Stepan tally in Monday’s 6-2 win over Dallas. Not shockingly, Megna will stay in the lineup for tomorrow’s home game against Washington.
There’s no point in disputing this move. It’s best for Etem to play in the AHL and regain his confidence. Right now, he’s useless. He can’t even beat out Tanner Glass or Viktor Stalberg for a spot on the fourth line. Both have brought more to the table. That’s a pretty sad assessment. It is what it is.
It doesn’t matter if Hagelin has struggled to fit in with the Ducks. He’s been brutal too with only three goals, five helpers and a minus-14 rating. He was never returning due to the cap. He’s getting an average cap hit of $4 million thru 2019. Unfortunately, the Rangers had to move him to fit Derek Stepan ($6.5 million) under the cap. Another overpriced player who’s underachieved. At least he scored twice against the Stars. Maybe that gets him going.
It is interesting to note that a day before the Rangers traded Hagelin, the Ducks swung another deal at the Draft with the Devils sending Kyle Palmieri to New Jersey for a 2015 second round pick and third rounder. That allowed Anaheim to use the second round pick with Etem to acquire Hagelin, the Rangers’ second (Julius Nattinen) and sixth (Garrett Metcalf).
So basically, the Devils got the better player. The Rangers wound up with spilled milk. The Ducks thought trading Palmieri and bringing in Hagelin would improve them. It’s backfired. The only team that won is New Jersey. Palmieri’s 17 goals and 30 points would lead the Ducks. Kinda funny how things work out.