Prospect Watch: Emerson Etem/Medicine Hat Tigers
This is my first viewing of Emerson and I had been looking forward to it after seeing that he was off to a good start, at least in terms of statistics. In terms of overall skating ability I would have to think that Emerson is one of the best skaters available in the draft. Readers of this blog know that I prefer a slightly bowlegged skating style, and this is the style that Emerson possesses. He has good leg extension and changes speeds almost effortlessly. He has a strong stride, good balance, and is able to turn and pivot quickly. However, I did not see him skate at top speed often in order to beat defenders wide. Despite this, Emerson's skating style does bode well for positive future development. It is easy to see why he is putting up good offensive numbers. Emerson has good offensive instincts, and reads the play well -- for example, on the offensive rush he has an uncanny ability to skate to open areas and support the puck carrier, therefore giving himself good scoring opportunities. Without the puck in the offensive zone Emerson demonstrates innovation and deception with his positioning which make him difficult to contain. In terms of his puck handling ability I would say that he is adequate, but in this game he was not creative and did not show great vision of the ice. The best prospects in this category know what to do with the puck before they get it -- I did not get that sense in watching Emerson. He does appear to have soft hands and handles the puck maturely and with poise. That is, I did not see him turn the puck over in any of the three zones. I would like to see Emerson challenge defenders in one-on-one situations when he is carrying the puck. In the defensive zone he appeared to understand proper positioning and was definitely not a liability. In terms of physical play, Emerson is consistent and diligent in finishing his checks. However, he does not play the body with much authority -- he seems to be simply completing a task to be fulfilled. In terms of his overall competitiveness I did note that he is willing to pay a price to go to the net.
Although it is early in the season, Emerson exhibits the skill set necessary to be a first three round consideration for the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. To be more specific, I would slot him in the late first round or early second round at this point.