The Ducks have signed right wing Emerson Etem to a three-year entry-level contract. Per club policy, no financial terms of the deal were disclosed.
A native of Long Beach, California, Etem scored 45-35=80 points with a +41 rating and 24 penalty minutes (PIM) in 65 games with the Medicine Hat Tigers of the Western Hockey League (WHL) last season. Etem, 18 (6/16/92), finished tied for fifth among WHL leaders in goals and tied for eighth in plus/minus. He also led the WHL in shorthanded goals (9) and tied for 12th in power play goals (15). Among team leaders, Etem ranked second in points and goal scoring, and first in power play goals and plus/minus. In 15 WHL Playoff games, Etem added 10-11=21 points to finish 10th among league leaders.
Selected by Anaheim in the first round (29th overall) of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Etem is the highest drafted Southern California born-and-trained player in Ducks history and third-highest in NHL history. The 6-0, 195-pound right wing played his minor hockey at the Los Angeles Hockey Club before moving to Shattuck-St. Mary’s Prep School in Faribault, MN in 2007-08 and later the U.S. National Development Program in 2008-09. Etem represented Team USA at the 2011 IIHF World Junior Championship in Buffalo, NY, scoring one goal in six games to help his country to a bronze medal in the tournament.
Etem made his WHL debut with Medicine Hat in 2009-10, earning 37-28=65 points with a +8 rating in 72 games. Named Medicine Hat’s Rookie of the Year for 2009-10, Etem ranked second on the club in goals and fourth in scoring. Among all WHL rookies, he finished first in goals and fourth in points. Etem has appeared in 137 career WHL games, collecting 82-63=145 points with a +49 rating and 50 PIM. He has also played 27 career WHL Playoff games, recording 17-14=31 points with the Tigers.
Etem spoke with reporters via conference call from his home in Long Beach. The following is a transcript:
On when contract negations heated up It was pretty crazy. I wasn’t really expecting it to happen this quick. I got a phone call from agent, Eustace King and he said it could be either today or a year from now. I didn't really now. I just kind of took it in. I had an open mind to it. It happened earlier today, so I’m pretty excited and stoked.
On how long the process took It took about an hour. You need a couple of signatures. My agent just sat down with me, my mom and my trainer. I got a great team with me. They have been through the thick and thin with me. It was really great to have them there when I signed it. We sat down for about an hour to discuss the whole thing. We went from there.
On his training It takes me about 40 minutes to get to Venice from my house. I’m just at the Gold’s Gym training with T.R. Goodman. It’s been great. This is my sixth year working with him. I couldn’t ask for a better trainer. I’ll keep on training with him throughout my career. On summer workouts I’ve already started. I got back around May 1. I took a week off to spend time with my family and friends. I started this past Monday. It’s been great. I’m just getting into it. It’s always fun and I have a blast every time I show up at the gym. I go really early. I’m a morning person. I go at around 5 a.m. and work my butt off.
On where he sees himself fitting in next season Every year it gets more and more realistic. Last year, I had an open mind. There weren’t many spots open. Every year you have to go in with the mindset of wanting to make the team. That is what I did last year. That is no different from this year. You train harder and harder every summer. I feel like I’m mentally and physically stronger. Going back to Medicine Hat was a great opportunity for me to build a more overall and rounded game. I think I did that. I started to finish more checks. I got in my first fight at the end of the year. A couple of different pieces put the icing on the cake for the season and got me ready for what is ahead.
On his first fight If you ask me, I won. You can take a look at the video and judge for yourself. It’s on youtube. It’s pretty cool for me to look back on that and build a lot of confidence.
On improving I try to put the puck in the net and I did just that in Medicine Hat, scoring 45 goals. My linemate Linden Vey did a great job of supporting me all year. We were a dynamic duo for sure. He captured the scoring title in the league. I can’t thank him enough. I started finishing checks right off the bat. I got off to a little bit of a slow start. But I knew the goals would come. I even improved on my playmaking ability and my assists. I focus on scoring goals and what I need to improve on. That is definitely finishing my checks and using my big frame to be a net-front presence. I think I did that even better than the previous year. To cap it off with a fight, which may not seem like a big deal, but for me it’s huge and builds a lot of confidence.
On his favorite team Growing up it was always the Kings to be honest. I’m from L.A. County. But once I was I was drafted to the Ducks, I immediately changed. It’s such a great organization with high class. Everyone throughout the organization has been incredible to me and my family. I look forward to working with them and being a part of it. It’s definitely my new favorite team.
On the U.S. National Team and the WHL Going into the development program, it was definitely a close-knit team and they made it that way. It was a great year for me. My defensive play definitely helped. That is the year that stands out in my mind where my shot really improved. They emphasize little things of your game. One of my things was working on my shot and it definitely helped me going into the Western League.
In the Western League, the Medicine Hat Tigers is a great organization from the owners on down. They are fantastic people. One of the things that stands out about Medicine Hat is just the physicality of the league. Any team can come out and beat you any given night. That is what you have to focus on and put forth your best game every night. I was a lot more consistent this year than the previous year, which I like to look back on. From the league standpoint, the physicality and the games played. You are playing 72 games versus the development program which is on the weekends and you are not playing as many games.
On Medicine Hat For me, it was a different situation. I lived in Faribault, Minnesota going to Shattuck-St. Mary’s. I left when I was 14. That has 20,000 people. Medicine Hat has close to 70,000. I was already kind of used to the small-town feel. I don’t mind it all, as long as there is hockey. It’s the game I love.