Hockey’s Future Prospect of the Month, October 2011

By Glen Erickson
Photo: Emerson Etem is Hockey’s Future’s Prospect of the Month for October. (Photo courtesy of Ken McKenna/HF)

Selected by Anaheim Ducks in the first round, 28th overall, at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Emerson Etem achieved immediate notoriety because he pretty much grew up in the Ducks’ backyard.

The 19-year-old native of Long Beach, California began his hockey career at the age of three, playing roller hockey at a local YMCA. He followed his older brother through minor hockey, watching him play against the likes of Sidney Crosby and Jack Johnson. Eventually, the youngster relocated to Minnesota where he excelled with the Shattuck St. Mary’s program while playing alongside Derek Stepan of the New York Rangers. Then came the Hockey USA developmental program in Michigan before committing to the Medicine Hat Tigers.

Out of the gate this season through October, Etem collected 31 point in 15 games, helping the Tigers to an 11-5-0-0 start. His exploits included three hat tricks. With 22 goals in his first 16 games this season, Etem has achieved what only two other players in league history have managed to accomplish, a goal-scoring binge seldom seen in the WHL. Indeed, the dynamic power forward is off to an enormous start.

In his first WHL season, he tallied 37 goals and 28 assists for 65 points in 72 games as a 17-year-old. Last season, Etem scored 45 goals and added 35 assists

Etem is destined for a second turn with at the WJC, having played with Team USA in Buffalo, New York last January. The 2012 event is scheduled for the province of Alberta, where it will be shared between the cities of Edmonton and Calgary. As a result, he is likely to miss between eight and 12 WHL games, about a month of playing time, a stretch that will impact the likelihood of him reaching any all-time league goal scoring records.

While he has posted huge numbers so far, it is perhaps the impact he is having on the production of his teammates. Forward Hunter Shinkaruk (2013), who made an impression as a 16-year-old last season with 42 points in 63 games, has been on fire this year with 16 goals and six assists in 18 games alongside Etem.

Head coach Shaun Clouston, who spoke with HF last month is impressed with Etem’s start this season, and his ever-improving skill set.

"He’s one of the guys who has gotten better every year," Clouston said. "He does a great job with the process. He has a good routine, keeps his shifts short, understands the team concept and works well with his linemates. Where he has really improved so far is his physicality. He’s looking for more contact and is definitely looking to play harder, to go to the net harder.

He has become an important leader with the Tigers, taking over from the likes of Wacey Hamilton (OTT), Linden Vey (LAK), and Kellan Tochkin (VAN), Etem is a dynamic skater, who has emerged this season as complete power forward. Elite athleticism runs in the family, as Etem’s mother Patricia appeared in the 1984 Olympics as a member of the USA rowing team.

Link to Hockey’s Future Podcast with Emerson Etem.

Honorable Mentions

Doug Hamilton (BOS)
Niagara Ice Dogs – Ontario Hockey League

Recognized by the OHL as the Top Defenseman for the month of October, Dougie Hamilton (BOS) of the Niagara Ice Dogs has contributed an important offensive burst with seven goals and 13 assists for 20 points in 14 games. He is on pace to exceed his career high of 58 points, which he set last year in his second full season with the Ice Dogs. Hamilton was the Bruins first round selection, ninth overall, at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. An effective mover of the puck, Hamilton checks in at 6’4 and 195 pounds. A mobile rearguard, he will be considered by Hockey Canada for the 2012 WJC after attending the summer development camp Alberta. The 18-year-old was born in Toronto, Ontario.

Jonathan Huberdeau (FLA)
St. John Sea Dogs – Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

The CHL Player of the Week for October 30, Huberdeau returned to the QMJHL as the reigning Memorial Cup MVP. While the native of St. Jerome, Quebec continues to rack up the personal accolades, the Sea Dogs also sit near the top teams in the overall standings. Through 12 games, the 6’1, 175-pound forward has scored 10 goals and added 17 assists. The Florida Panthers made Huberdeau the third overall pick at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Look for Huberdeau to suit up with Team Canada at the 2012 WJC.

Erik Haula (MIN)
Minnesota Golden Gophers – National Collegiate Athletic Association

The native of Pori, Finland currently leads the nation with 17 points through eight games and has helped the Minnesota Golden Gophers to a 7-1 record, which is good for tops in the WCHA so far. The 20-year-old NCAA sophomore is averaging just over two points per game and is well on his way to bettering his 24-point output of last season. The Wild made the 5’10, 185-pound Haula their seventh round pick, 182nd overall, at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.

Joe Colborne (TOR)
Toronto Marlies – American Hockey League

Originally selected by the Boston Bruins in the first round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Colborne has appeared in only one NHL game so far. Acquired by the Maple Leafs in the deal that saw Tomas Kaberle leave Toronto, the 6’5, 215-pound Colborne is a big physical forward who has begun to establish an offensive presence. Through nine games this season, he has collected eight goals and eights assists with a plus-eight rating.

Other Notables: Vladimir Tarasenko (STL), Novosibirsk Siber – KHL; Mark Stone (OTT), Brandon Wheat Kings – WHL; Jerome Gauthier-Leduc (BUF), Rimouski Oceanic – QMJHL; Kevin Sundher (BUF), Victoria Royals – WHL; Anders Lee (NYI), Notre Dame Fighting Irish – NCAA