Call it the best of both worlds for new Rangers forward Emerson Etem.
At the age of 18 the California native was selected in the first round of the 2010 NHL Draft by his home-state Anaheim Ducks. Coincidentally enough that draft was held in Los Angeles, a hop, skip and jump from Long Beach, where he grew up.
It all made for a great story, and certainly it was special for Etem to start his NHL career at home in front of his family and friends.
Now, though, Emerson Etem is ready for a new challenge 3,000 miles east in New York City after being acquired by the Rangers at this year's draft, and he is more than OK with this change of scenery, believing it can help lift his game and career to the next level.
"It was a great experience playing at home, having my friends and family close by all the time," explained the personable 23 year-old Etem. "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."
Etem split the past three seasons between Anaheim and the minor leagues, fighting to establish himself on a deep and talented Ducks roster. Like many young players in the league, Etem acknowledges that playing on a consistent basis game-in and game-out has been his biggest struggle adapting to the best league in the world.
WATCH EXCLUSIVE ONE-ON-ONE INTERVIEW WITH EMERSON ETEM HERE
The skill-set and work ethic are there, though, and Etem is confident that a fresh start with the Rangers is exactly what he needs after scoring 15 goals and totaling 31 points over 112 career games with the Ducks.
"It's just a different scenery, and this is a talented team, too," Etem said of coming to New York. "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."
When Etem was acquired on June 27, Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton said that the 6-foot-1, 210 pound winger was being looked upon to fill a "top-nine" role up front, and that he should be a good fit in coach Alain Vigneault's up-tempo, puck-possession, speed game.
Etem is in full agreement with that assessment.
"Whatever role Alain and the coaching staff ask of me, I am ready to fill that role," stated Etem, who scored three goals in 12 playoff games this past spring. "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."
Though he was in the Ducks organization for five years, Etem does have a certain comfort level coming to the Rangers, having played with three current Blueshirts in the past. Etem and Derek Stepan were high school teammates at Shattuck St.-Mary's in Minnesota, and the new Ranger also won a bronze medal playing alongside Chris Kreider with the United States at the 2011 World Junior Championships. A year later he and J.T. Miller were Team USA teammates at the 2012 World Juniors.
To say that Etem is thrilled to reunite with these three key Blueshirts, and to join the Rangers organization, is an understatement.
"I am overwhelmed with excitement," exclaimed Etem. "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."