The Anaheim Ducks are off to a great start for the second consecutive season, as their 21-7-5 record gives them 47 points are first place in the Pacific Division. They’ve gotten great production from their top line of Corey Perry (20 goals), Ryan Getzlaf (team-leading 37 points) and Dustin Penner (23 points), but they’ve also received a respectable contribution from their other three lines. With more talented forwards than there are roster spots, the Ducks have had to make some tough calls concerning some of their young players. Second-year center Emerson Etem was recently sent down to the Norfolk Admirals of the AHL, despite the fact that he has six goals and 10 points in 26 games.
Etem was a first-round pick in 2010 and the Ducks saw his stock rise in the two seasons that followed his draft year. He scored 45 goals and had 80 points for the Medicine Hat Tigers of the WHL in 2010-11, then followed that season up with a 61-goal, 107-point effort in 2011-12. The lockout saw him start last season with the Admirals, where he had 13 goals in 45 games before joining the Ducks. He ended up playing 38 games with Anaheim as a rookie, posting ten points before scoring three goals and collecting five points in seven playoff games. The fact that he has already matched that production in fewer games would have him sticking around with almost any other team, but on the Ducks’ roster he’s stuck behind four centers with more experience.
Getzlaf won’t be giving up his spot on the top line anytime soon, and Nick Bonino (eight goals, 23 points) continues to make a strong case to center the second line. Saku Koivu has played well on the third line since returning from an injury and veteran David Steckel is getting a chance on the fourth line. Barring an injury, it might be some time before Etem gets a chance again. When he does, he needs to score consistently if he hopes to stick around, as the Ducks are far too deep to keep anyone around who isn’t effective. Etem will be a big piece of the Ducks future and needs to stay patient while continuing to wait for his full-time shot.