Now that Etem’s gone, what’ll happen next?


When we last left off, Emerson Etem was still a member of the Rangers organization. They had just sent him to Hartford on a conditioning assignment. What is puzzling is you had Alain Vigneault discussing the move with reporters. He indicated that it was the best move for Etem, who was set to play three AHL games this weekend.

Instead, news came that the Rangers dealt Etem to the Canucks for 22-year old forward Nicklas Jensen and a 2017 sixth round pick. So, that’s the end of the Etem experiment. He only played 19 games and never got ideal ice-time under the coach who never trusted him. So, he now is Vancouver’s problem. With his cap hit ($425,ooo) off the books, Jensen was sent to Hartford.

The trade of Carl Hagelin now is Hagelin, 2016 second round pick (Julius Nattinen), 2016 sixth round pick (Garrett Metcalf) to Anaheim for Jensen, 2016 second round pick (Ryan Gropp) plus a sixth round pick in 2017. Basically, it’s a even return now with the club recovering a sixth. As for Jensen, he’s from Denmark and is listed at 6-3, 186. In 24 games with the Canucks, he’s scored three goals and three assists.

Supposedly, the Rangers scouted him in 2011. He’s another former first round pick with Vancouver grabbing Jensen at number 29. Rather than get excited for him, I’ll just wait and see if he ever sees the light of day. Let’s face it. The organization is dysfunctional. From seeing a few quotes from GM Jeff Gorton on why Etem didn’t work out here, it’s puzzling.

“I would say, it’s clear Emerson got off to a tough start here and it just hasn’t seemed to gain any traction and basically we’re trying to find the right fit for him and a roster spot here and it goes back to training camp, really, where it didn’t seem to be working and a fit. So that’s why, at this point, it was best for us to get him another spot to go to and for us, to find a player that we liked and thought had some future. When Vancouver came along it seemed to be the right time to do this.”

It almost sounds like due to his poor camp and preseason, Etem never had a realistic shot to make it. The way Vigneault treated him was baffling. Even when he had decent showings, he could never get out of the doghouse. The poor showing at Florida was enough to finish his Ranger career. Some career. Nineteen games worth.

As for the Hagelin deal, it always was about trading up to take Gropp which they did at number 41. In 34 games with the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL, he has 18 goals and 14 assists totaling 32 points with 24 penalty minutes.

“Yes, Gropp was the key to it, and yes we expected more from Emerson. It’s hard to say that 75 percent of the trade was around Gropp and 25 percent of it was around Emerson. They were both part of it, but we really liked Gropp and we’re happy to have him and happy where he’s at. But the answer’s yes, we wanted more out of Emerson and it didn’t work out.”

That’s really it. Hopefully, Vancouver coach Willie Desjardins will give Etem a fair shake. The scenery change is probably what’s best. If he is to have any NHL career, it’s now or never. He’s 23 and on his third organization in less than a year.

Meanwhile, the Rangers get back to business later today with a special 1 PM Saturday matinee against the top team in the East. Those Caps. Alex Ovechkin needs a hat trick to reach 500 goals for his brilliant career. I don’t think I need to go into detail on what needs to happen to prevent such chaos at MSG. The 7-3 loss was bad enough last time.

Chris Kreider is going to sit out one more game due to his hand. Just extra precaution. Jayson Megna gets another game. Hopefully, it goes as well as Monday. Figure Henrik Lundqvist in net against Braden Holtby. The new “best goalie” who’s been crowned by some media. Here’s hoping he remembers Games 5 and 7 last Spring.

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About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included two stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil games. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has scored Berkeley Carroll basketball games since 2006 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. From players, coaches to administrators, it's a first class program. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree.
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