Rangers miss Carl Hagelin and it’s time to end the Emerson Etem Experience

Etem (NYR)

Etem (NYR)

The Rangers lost to the red-hot Florida Panthers last night because Roberto Luongo stopped 39 shots. Granted, most of the shots were fairly easy with no screens or rebounds but he was on his game. However, the Rangers also lost due their abysmal penalty kill which has now yielded 12 goals in the last 10 games.

Since the Rangers road trip through Western Canada, they’ve given up 12 PPG on 38 opportunities for an atrocious 68% PK. New York has no shorthanded goals on the year (last year they had 9), and their PK has dropped to 15th overall at 80%. What’s become really apparent is just how stationary they are during this stretch. They simply are not attacking the puck carrier and they are certainly not closing the passing lanes fast enough.

They honestly miss Carl Hagelin on the PK and on the bottom six.

Hags isn’t playing great in Anaheim. His 3 goals and 8 points aren’t cutting it, but the entire Ducks team can’t score this year. He is shooting 5 points less than his career 9.2% shooting percentage, so that is part of the problem. Still, he was a perfect fit for the Blueshirts and his speed and dogged puck pursuit are sorely missing (explains some of the bad Rangers possession numbers) and his 53.2% CF would be welcome.

To compound the problem, the main piece Hags was traded for isn’t working out. Emerson Etem has been a disappointment and last night it was his defensive incompetence and lazy penalty that had an impact on all three goals against. He finished the game with a -2 and was regulated to just 6 plus minutes of ice.

Last night was his worst performance yet. On the first Florida goal he simply gave the puck away at center ice while the Rangers were changing. Then he was completely lost and out of position on the Panthers second goal.

On the year, Etem has ZERO goals and just 3 assists to go with a -4 rating. Still, you see a lot of the analytics crowd applauding his play and preaching about his upside. This led me to go check out sites like War on Ice and see what they are talking about.

Glass keeps fighting for a spot (AP Photo/Joel Auerbach)

Glass keeps fighting for a spot (AP Photo/Joel Auerbach)

As per fancy stats, Etem’s corsi is just 47% and he averages 11:05 of ice time. On the other hand, fancy stat whipping boy, Tanner Glass is at 46.7% in just 10:17 TOI. Try this on for size too, Glass has 1 goal on the year and just 1 less point in 3 less games than Etem. He also consistently leads the team in hits and is more of factor game in and game out than Etem has been this entire season. Furthermore, Etem has been playing with more skilled type players than Glass, who has been mostly cemented on the 4th line with the likes of Dominic Moore, Viktor Stalberg and recently departed Jarret Stoll.

So no, Glass won’t be coming out of the lineup when Kevin Hayes returns from his banishment.

As for Etem’s upside…where is it? He has played 131 games and has just 15 goals and 34 points to his credit with a measly career shooting percentage of just 7.8%. The man the Rangers traded away, Carl Hagelin had 22 goals and 56 points in his first 100 NHL games. That is 27 more points than Etem has amassed thus far. Another comparison you can look at is Jesper Fast. In his first 100 games, Fast has accumulated 12 goals and 27 points. The difference is that we see Fast can kill penalties and actually be an effective temporary replacement on the top two lines. He simply is a better overall player than Etem.

Look, I can understand that when you see his size and occasional burst of speed you think the sky’s the limit. However, it’s more likely that he will be journeyman on team’s 3rd or 4th line before he becomes even a serviceable 2nd liner.

Simply put, Etem doesn’t look like an everyday NHL player. While he could still emerge as someone the Rangers could use with confidence, time is slowly running out. Alain Vigneault needs to make the adjustments that will get this team going again and it needs to start with Etem in the stands. Dylan McIlrath must also become a regular on defense but that will likely require some maneuvering by GM, Jeff Gorton.

Hey! While we are talking about Gorton…how about bringing back Carl Hagelin by the NHL trade deadline? It would be a move that could make the locker room whole again, breathe life in the PK and spark the team on a playoff run.

Hell…after the way that sounded just writing it, Gorton should make it happen.

Anthony Scultore has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL since 2014. His work also appears at... More about Anthony Scultore

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