Player moves returned to hockey this week. It's as though someone went into the game options, discovered that trades had been turned off for the first half of the season, and switched them back on. Several teams have made notable moves in the past few days.
Vancouver is now among them. On Friday, the Canucks announced the acquisition of right wing Emerson Etem from the New York Rangers. Heading to New York? Right wing Nicklas Jensen, and Vancouver's 6th round pick in 2017. It's a minor deal, in a sense, since neither player has done much as the NHL level, but it's also a huge deal, as it means the single greatest/worst tweet in the history of the medium is now Canucks-related:
A few hours after Emerson Etem, Emerson Poopem.
— Sean Gentille (@seangentille) May 13, 2013
Big win for Vancouver.
Twitter aside, the trade still looks favourable for the Canucks, unless that 6th round pick turns into the next Rick Tocchet. While Jensen has yet to break into the NHL in any meaningful way (save for one glorious week in March of 2014), and probably wasn't going to see another look with Vancouver, Etem has already proven to be at least a serviceable NHLer.
Granted, Etem should be a little further along. He does have another year of professional development under his belt. The 23-year-old was drafted 29th overall in 2010. Jensen went at the same spot in 2011. That makes this yet another trade where the Canucks have intentionally gotten older, swapping a prospect for, essentially, a more NHL-ready version of the same player. In a way, it reminds of the Gustav Forsling for Adam Clendening swap, except with forwards. And, like Clendening, as well as Sven Baertschi and Linden Vey, the Canucks appear to be taking yet another gamble on a once highly-touted prospect now flirting with the bust label. None of these moves have panned out for them quite yet, but Baertschi has shown signs of life recently.
This isn't the only thing Etem has in common with Linden Vey, by the way. Here's a line from the Canucks' release that seems relevant:
Prior to beginning his professional career, Etem played three seasons of junior hockey with the Medicine Hat Tigers of the WHL.
This regime's love of Medicine Hat will never cease to amuse. They collect former Tigers the way I collect Parliament/Funkadelic records. (My latest acquisition: The Brides of Funkenstein's rare sophomore LP, Never Buy Texas From a Cowboy.) I can't imagine loving the place as much as they do. Although I am particularly fond of Rudyard Kipling's description of the area: "This part of the country seems to have all hell for a basement, and the only trap door appears to be in Medicine Hat," he said. Tough to disagree. ("All Hell for a basement" sounds like an apt description of the Pacific Division right now, by the way.)
The move could potentially reunite Etem with Hunter Shinkaruk, his one-time linemate with the Medicine Hat Tigers. Etem's not going down to Utica, but Shinkaruk is due for a call-up to the Canucks, where the two might be able to rekindly the chemistry that saw them combine for 198 points together during their time as teammates.
But while Shinkaruk is no doubt excited to skate with Etem again at some point in the future, Jake Virtanen might be a little less thrilled. Etem's arrival will probably push Virtanen, another right winger, down the depth chart -- maybe right out of Vancouver. Does this trade signal Virtanen's return to juniors?
Can't say I disagree with that choice, if it does, but it won't happen right away, if at all. The Canucks made room for Etem Friday by placing Jannik Hansen on the IR.
Which leads me to three questions. 1. Does Etem get a look with the Sedins in Hansen's absence? 2. If so, is that version 2.0 of the "Brothers" Line, apparently one of the greatest line nicknames in hockey? 3? Is that nickname still socially appropriate (if it ever was), or has the needle moved too much in the last decade?