Sitting with the comfortable lead that the Anaheim Ducks have, you have the luxury of pretty much doing what you want.
Want to test out your top goalie prospect? You can bet John Gibson gets action in one of the two games this weekend.
Rest your players? Jakob Silfverberg was a healthy scratch last game against the Nashville Predators (to be honest, the fact he hasn’t scored since his first game back could have something to do with that as well), and Teemu Selanne hasn’t played in both games of any back-to-backs all year (again, other circumstances with that as well).
So is this why Emerson Etem is forced to play against obviously inferior opponents in the American Hockey League, playing for the Norfolk Admirals?
Etem was one of the team’s two first round draft picks in 2010 (along with Cam Fowler), and while Cam has become one of the backbones of the team, Etem is still struggling to crack the lineup.
A professional of 64-NHL games, Etem has only scored nine goals in that span – all the while playing bottom line minutes. Coming off a junior career where he scored 143-goals in three years for the Medicine Hat Tigers, the goal scoring hasn’t translated at the NHL level – yet.
Fortunately for the Ducks, they don’t have to rely on Etem’s goal scoring to succeed. But with his current tear in the American League, how much longer till the Ducks recall the young winger?
Etem was named the AHL’s player of the month for December, scoring 15 points (7 G, 8 A) in nine games and with his goal last night now has a five game goal scoring streak.
In 15-total games played at the AHL level, Etem is scoring a tad under two points per game. With 11-goals and 13 assists this season with Norfolk, Etem is quickly showing that he has graduated the AHL level and is waiting a legitimate opportunity in the NHL.
There is only so much you can master at the AHL level until it is time to move on to the next level, and Etem is quickly approaching that, if he hasn’t already passed it. The Ducks can use when this time comes to improve their team at other positions, or they can ride the hot streak and let him sit in the American League.
Come crunch time, his speed and newfound prowess for the net is quickly becoming something the Ducks can’t afford not to have in the lineup.
Anthony is the Editor at Pucks of a Feather. You can reach him by email [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @AMurphyTFC.