DALLAS - Good afternoon from the Big D, where there was a noticeable briskness in the air earlier this morning. Locals here say it couldn't have come at a better time after an unrelenting combination of heat and humidity baked the city for the better part of five months.
Just moments before the team took the ice for their pregame skate, the Ducks announced that they claimed forward Emerson Etem off waivers. The 24-year-old from Long Beach began his career with the Ducks after being drafted by Anaheim in the first round (29th overall) of the 2010 NHL Draft. Etem became the highest drafted Southern California born-and-trained player in Ducks history. As a member of the Ducks, Etem scored 31 points (15g/16a) in 112 regular season games, adding eight points (6g/2a) in 23 playoff games.
Etem most recently played with the New York Rangers and Vancouver Canucks in 2015-16, scoring 15 points (7g/8a) with 11 penalty minutes in 58 regular season games. Over his NHL career, Etem has 46 points (22g/24a) with 28 penalty minutes in 170 career NHL games with the Ducks, Rangers and Canucks.
The Ducks will practice tomorrow morning in Dallas before departing for Pittsburgh, where Etem is likely to join them. He'll be wearing No. 26 this time around, having previously worn 65 and 16.
As for tonight, two rookies are expected to make their NHL debuts for Anaheim. Right wing Nick Sorensen and defenseman Jacob Larsson made the opening night roster after each had strong showings throughout training camp and the preseason.
If you saw Sorensen in the locker room after the pregame skate, you'd think it was just another day for the soft-spoken 21-year-old. If he had any jitters, he certainly didn't show it.
"It's a special feeling," said Sorensen. "I feel ready. I've played a couple of games now and I feel like I've gotten used to the pace. I know everyone has my back. It's just a special day and I'm looking forward to it."
Sorensen was one of two players (also Nick Ritchie) who skated in six of the seven preseason games. Sorensen co-led the team in goals (2) and shots on goal (15).
"I'm not going to be too hyped up," Sorensen said. "I'm going to be pretty cool about it, but obviously it's a special day."
Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle says he doesn't want the two rookies to change anything because it happens to be the regular season opener.
"I'd like to see them continue on with what they brought in training camp," said Carlyle. "Don't do anything special. Just do what you do best. Both players have earned the opportunity, and it's great to see young players get their first games in. There will be butterflies, but hopefully the veterans in the group will make it a little easier on these kids."
Sorensen and Larsson won't be the only one with butterflies, apparently, as Carlyle admitted he'll probably feel the same way closer to game time.
DOUBLE DOSE OF RITCHIE
Brothers Nick and Brett will face one another tonight, and word is their parents will also be in attendance. Brett, the elder of the two at 23, was selected by Dallas in the second round (44th overall) of the 2011 NHL Draft. Brett split time between Dallas and its AHL affiliate (Texas Stars) last season, registering one point (assist) in eight regular season games with the big club and 28 points (14g/14a) in 35 AHL contests. Like younger brother Nick (20), Brett isn't afraid to play the body, as evidenced by his 3.75 hits-per-game average last season, which ranked second on the Stars.
PROJECTED LINE COMBINATIONS