California native Emerson Etem was fortunate enough to begin his NHL career in his home state after being selected in the first round of the 2010 NHL Draft (No. 29) by the Anaheim Ducks.
But after bouncing back and forth the past three seasons between Anaheim and the Norfolk Admirals in the American Hockey League, Etem was traded, along with a second-round pick, to the New York Rangers for left wing Carl Hagelin on June 27.
Etem, who turned 23 on June 16, had five goals and five assists in 45 regular-season games for the Ducks last season and 13 goals in 22 AHL games.
"It was a great experience playing at home, having my friends and family close by all the time," Etem told BlueshirtsUnited.com on Wednesday. "But I think it will be just as good to move away, be more on my own, and play on the biggest stage in New York City. I am really excited to be here.
"It's New York, the biggest stage. I think this is a great situation for myself. There's no better fit for the type of player I am. It's a great system for me to play in, a great city to be a part of. And New York believes in me. I am so excited to be here."
Hagelin scored 17 goals for the Rangers in each of the past two seasons and was used in all situations. Etem may not be asked to kill penalties in New York, but coach Alain Vigneault will likely need him to become a top-nine forward if the Rangers hope to win the Metropolitan Division again.
"Whatever role Alain and the coaching staff ask of me, I am ready to fill that role," said Etem, who scored three goals in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs for Anaheim. "I am looking to have a big year. This is something I want to take full advantage of, and I'm going to do everything it takes to be at my best.
"It's just a different scenery, and this is a talented team too. I have to work hard and let my play do the talking. I have to come to camp ready to take a spot [on the roster]. My strengths are my speed and I feel I can play a versatile game. I can play a physical game. Right now I haven't had the chance to break out offensively, but I feel like with more hard work during the summer I can put myself in a good spot when training camp arrives."