The Vancouver Canucks have taken their first dip into the trade market, acquiring Emerson Etem from the New York Rangers in exchange for Nicklas Jensen and a sixth round pick in 2017. Elliote Friedman was the first to break the news, although, speculation on this deal began earlier in the day when Bob McKenzie indicated that the Canucks could be in the hunt for the young winger.
Etem to VAN is being done. Nick Jensen and late pick going the other way.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) January 8, 2016
It’s fascinating how quickly this speculation materialized into a transaction. It was reported earlier in the day that Etem was loaned to the Hartford Wolf Pack on a conditioning stint, then that he would be eventually dealt. The New York Rangers had acquired Etem at the 2015 NHL Draft, from the Anaheim Ducks, in exchange for Carl Hagelin and an exchange of picks and appear to have already given up on the once highly touted prospect.
This move is the third of it’s kind for Jim Benning, who is making a habit of upping the percentages on held assets. Jensen would be waiver eligible next season and was unlikely to ever find his way onto this Canucks roster, given his unimpress showing in consecutive seasons with the Utica Comets. In Etem the Canucks are getting a player already on the cusp of becoming an NHL regular, with a first round pedigree and skills to show.
Etem appeared to be making strides down the stretch last season, as Bruce Boudreau moved the right winger to play alongside Rickard Rakell and Jiri Sekac. Using the centre on that line, Rakell, as a proxy for their play as a whole, they sported a Corsi For of 57% when playing together and nearly 55% of goals.
Etem has struggled this season, playing primarily on the Rangers fourth line, alongside Jarrett Stoll and Dominic Moore. Etem’s suited up in 19 games for the Rangers, with just the three assists to show for his troubles.
This move is a coup for Benning, who recouped excellent value on Jensen in the form of an NHL ready winger that can figure prominently into the Canucks plans going forward. For as maligned a manager as Benning has been in this space – rightfully so – serious credit is due for exploiting this market inefficiency and buying low on a likely ascending asset in an untenable situation.
It remains to be seen what kind of roster juggling the Canucks will have to do to facilitate such a move. Assuming Jannik Hansen hasn’t been placed on IR, the Canucks are past their limit of 23 players on their active roster. Of course, the situation is increasingly murky given Etem’s status on loan to the AHL. It’s been reported that Etem will wear Frankie Corrado’s old 26 for the Canucks.
Etem’s acquisition also helps to bolster the Canucks growing stock of former Medicine Hat Tigers, as he once played under Willie Desjardins with the WHL franchise.
The Vancouver Canucks now have every Medicine Hat Tigers leading scorer from between 09-10 to 13-14 somewhere in their system.
— Rhys Jessop (@Thats_Offside) January 8, 2016