With the NHL season over and done with, there are really only two things to look forward to in the near future for us starved fans of the puck; free agency on July 1st and the Draft in Los Angeles on June 25th. I guess you could throw the NHL Awards in there, to be held in Las Vegas on June 23rd, but let’s be honest, it’s really not all that exciting. Even if Drew Doughty wins the Norris trophy, do you really get amped up to hear acceptance speeches given mostly by foreigners whose English is more broken than Ian Laperriere’s face?

Of course you don’t.

But the draft is pretty cool, particularly when its being held in our stomping grounds.

So, as we approach the draft, Bobby and I will be taking a look at some of the prospects that may be back in Los Angeles in a few months for development camp as the NHL’s 2010 19th overall pick. We’ll kick things off with Emerson Etem, whose blazing speed and nose for the back of the net have many savvy Kings’ fans hoping Co-Directors of Scouting Michael Futa and Mark Yannetti target the Medicine Hat right winger.

Etem is a California native. Hailing from Long Beach, where they is no hail, Etem is so young that his first live Kings’ game was the Columbus Blue Jackets. Oh the innocence of being too young to remember a pre-Bettman-expansion NHL… it must be nice. Not suprisingly, Emerson could be the player drafted in the last two years who grew up a Kings’ fan. Not that this means much (I mean, come, what kid doesn’t idolize the Kings?), but it is amusing, and one never knows when the opportunity to play for a team one already loves will spin-off into something spectacular… or Noah Clarke. Before we get into Emerson Etem the player, a few more notes on Emerson Etem the man.

In an interview with NHL.com (found here), Etem gives his US Weekly list of favorites. The Kings’ being his favorite team, perhaps serendipity will strike twice for Etem, whose favorite player is none other than Ilya Kovalchuk. Then again, one must take this with a grain of salt, as Etem’s favorite book is also listed as “Catcher and the Rye”, which I haven’t read but hear is the timeless tale of one youngsters loss of innocence as he weaves his way through life, looking for the perfect loaf of Rye Bread. Unfortunately for his teammates, Emerson also lists his favorite home cooked meal as “Anything Mexican.” I’ve never been a player on an NHL team before, but I highly doubt flatulence is the first step to becoming a locker room leader. Then again, guys are weird, hockey players are weirder, and who doesn’t love a good fart joke?

OK, enough of that. What kind of player is Etem and why should the Kings’ consider using their 1st round pick on this kid?

Well, nothing speaks louder than youtube when it comes to prospects most of us won’t get to see play for live for another few years. So let’s start there.

(Etem wears #26)

That was fun, except for the music.

Etem’s speed is the first thing that jumps out at you. Homeboy (I normally disapprove of such vernacular, but since it actually applies here, I’ll allow it) is FAST. If you didn’t bother to watch all of the videos, skip to the 1:01 mark of the first video above to see a display of pure speed, something the Los Angeles Kings’ lack.

However, while the Kings’ may lack speed, we have often heard Dean Lombardi (among many, many others) preach a drafting philosophy called ‘BPA’, or ‘Best Player Available.’ Essentially, unless you have a top 3 pick, you likely are not going to be drafting an immediate roster player, but rather, an asset. So, instead of taking the player who best suits the deficiencies of your team, you take the best player you can get. Either you get a player who plays for you one day, or an asset you can trade down line to fill an immediate need. This raises the question, will Emerson Etem be the 19th best player available in the draft?

Well, if you listen to some mock drafts, he won’t be available at all at the Kings’ selection spot of 19. Mike Morreales of NHL.com has Etem getting plucked at 13. Also on NHL.com, Shawn Roarke has Etem going at 12. Others at NHL.com have Etem going as high as 10 in one, 15 in another. However, these mocks were done over a month ago, when ‘experts’ still thought Washington was going to the win cup. So what do recent mock drafts think?

NESN posted an updated mock draft 5 days ago on the 11th. Another went up just yesterday on a sports radio blog. You’ll notice both of these mock’s have Emerson falling to, but no further than, the Kings’ 19th pick. Of course another one has Etem dropping to Detroit at 21 and yet another has him being taken by the Ducks at the 12th spot.

So what does this all mean? Absolutely nothing and I’m sorry for wasting your time. Mock drafts are kind of pointless as they are about as self-masturbatory as certain rumor mongering websites. The only real conclusion one can draw, is that no one knows what the hell will happen. There are few clear distinctions in this year’s draft class. There are the definite top 2 in Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin, a pretty sure second grouping of about 3 or 4 players, and then, its pretty wide open. One thing that is clear is that Etem possesses talent worth noticing.

Luckily for the Kings’, Lombardi is a shrewd drafter and is at his most active during the prospect love-fest that borders on pedophilia. If Lombardi wants Etem, he will get a good sense of where he may fall to, and, if that spot is higher (or lower? I hate when the term higher refers to a number that is lower) than 19, you can bet your bottom dollar we will see Dean move some assets around to creep his way up to where he can get the player he wants.

Now that I’ve purged my musing’s on Etem, I’ll leave you with some actual reading material on the boy, since anyone with a computer and an hour to kill can find out as much about Emerson as I now know. Hopefully this saves you that hour of your life.

Quotes from the NHL.com article linked above.

NHL Director of Central Scouting, E.J. McGuire

“A 37-goal scorer with a good Medicine Hat team. He handles the puck so well at full speed. His crouch style belies his 6-foot stature. He looks smaller out there on the ice, but he’s not small in productiveness. How about this — he moved from Long Beach to Minnesota’s Shattuck-St. Mary’s to Medicine Hat, Alberta, all in the space of three developmental junior years.”

Medicine Hat Tigers head coach Willie Desjardins

“Emerson is a great skater who opens up the ice real well. He is a real professional already. Everyday he prepares like a pro. His biggest strength is he wants to improve as a player. When you tell him something he is prepared to do it.”

Emerson Etem

On his style of play: Yeah, I think I’m definitely a speed guy. I like to utilize my speed in all situations. I think I’m a great transition player. Through the neutral zone, I try to look for options, whether it’s to go wide or drive hard at the net. I like also to just be around the net and bear down on chances that my linemates create. That’s where I’m best is trying to put the puck in the back of the net and find places where I can do that.
If I can choose one guy to model my game after, it would definitely be Marian Gaborik.

Darren Harker of mynhldraft.com

Emerson Etem is a highly-skilled player with great hands, great speed and is deadly around the net. He gives the opposition fits with his speed and puck-handling ability. Although not overly large at 6’/195lbs, he is strong on his skates and that makes him tough to knock off the puck. These skills make him a factor in every game he plays. Etem is an exciting offensive player and sure to make you come out of your seat. He may need some work in his defensive play, but his offensive skills and speed are hard to ignore and should make him a 1st Round pick in the 2010 Draft.

Check back often until the draft (what hell, just check often until your eyes bleed), for more profiles on intriguing 2010 draft eligible players.

Categories: L.A. Kings News

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