Good news everyone! For those of you that cried foul of the lack of asset management, Emerson Etem is back on waivers! For those of you that didn’t care, go about your business.
The Canucks have a lack of forward depth this season, and even if you didn’t like Etem in the preseason (who did, really), losing him for nothing was still unfortunate. But now the Canucks have a chance to get him back, and for free. Better yet, they’ve got first dibs, plus some other perks if all goes right.
Let’s take a wander through the CBA and see just how this works.
Andrew Miller (CAR) and Emerson Etem (ANA) on waivers today.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) October 26, 2016
This probably couldn’t come at a better time by the way. The Canucks placed Derek Dorsett and Alex Burrows on the Injured Reserve earlier this week, and had to call up Jayson Megna from the AHL, since the options down there are pretty scarce. Joe LaBate impressed in preseason, but is about to start serving a suspension, while Cole Cassels is week-to-week with an injury, leaving them with little in the way of prospect call up options. There’s Alex Grenier, who has started off with four points in four games, and there’s Mike Zalewski. After that, it’s pretty much tumbleweeds up front (at least they give Curtis Valk a goddamn NHL contract).
So if you’ve got a chance to take an Emerson Etem for no charge, you might as well take it. I’m sure that Willie Desjardins is itching to give Jake Virtanen a healthy scratch – the 20-year old would-be power forward hasn’t looked right since returning for the shoulder injury he incurred in preseason. Although he swears up and down that there’s no injury, the thought of this Jake Virtanen being a healthy one might be even more frightening. Despite the Canucks’ woes about the early schedule, and local worries about fatigue, Virtanen played just 8:26 last night against Ottawa – even though he led the team in 5-on-5 shot attempt ratio (64.3 percent!).
If the Canucks wanted to take Etem back (and they should absolutely be considering it long and hard), there wouldn’t be much standing in their way. Even though the Canucks have gotten off to a hot(ish) start and currently boast the eighth highest points percentage in the league, since it’s only October 26th (and thus before November 1st), last season’s standings would be used in determining waiver order.
Lucky for us, the Canucks had the third fewest points in the regular season in 2015-16, meaning that Etem would only need to get by Toronto and Edmonton in order for the Canucks to be the successful claimant. Both of those teams are pretty stacked with forwards at this particular point.
Regardless of whether Vancouver puts a claim in on Etem, all 29 other teams still have the opportunity to – it’s just that the player is awarded to the team based on Section 13.19 (pictured above). This is how, based on Anaheim’s points and regulation/overtime wins last season, we can definitely say that 23 teams chose not to put in a waiver claim on Etem when he was waived a few weeks ago. Removing Anaheim (the claiming team) and Vancouver (the waiving team), that leaves just five teams (Washington, Dallas, St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Chicago) that we can’t tell for sure whether they put in a claim.
Again, all 29 teams that aren’t Anaheim (now the waiving team) have another opportunity to put in a claim. This is just an exercise that would seem to indicate the Etem wasn’t particularly popular the last time he was offered around the league.
But wait, there’s more! Reclaiming Etem is really only half the battle. Sure, it would be nice to get him back in the NHL lineup if Burrows and Dorsett are going to continue to miss time, and Virtanen continues to look like he’s suffering, but there are other perks associated with reclaiming a player that you had previously waived – provided that you are the only team to put in a claim on him.
Section 13.22 allows a club that previously waived, and then later claimed, the same player to assign that player to their minor league club without them having to waived a third time. And it doesn’t have to be immediate: the Canucks, if they were the only team that put in a claim, would have 10 games, or 30 days, to assign Etem to the AHL.
That means that they could pick up Etem and plug him in the lineup. If he performs well, then that’s swell. But if he continues to look how to looked in the preseason, then they have to option of sending him to Utica waiver free when Burrows and Dorsett return from the IR.
This is certainly a win for the Vancouver Canucks. It’s also yet another chance at redemption for Emerson Etem, who much be chomping at the bit to show that he’s still an NHL player. The 24-year old got into just two games in his second tour with the Ducks, averaging just six minutes of ice time per night – suffice it to say that Randy Carlyle is not a “roll four lines” type of coach.
There is a potential downside on a personal level for Etem, who just had his first child a little over a month ago. The claim by Anaheim allowed him to go home, being a native of Long Beach, California. Going unclaimed, he would head to the Ducks affiliate, which is in San Diego. Vancouver would be acceptable, sure, but Utica would be a kick in the rear. If he’s going to play in the American League anyways, surely San Diego would be preferable – in more ways than one.
But, as we say, this is a business. And in this business, having depth is an absolute must, which is why putting in a claim on Emerson Etem is something that is almost assuredly in the Canucks’ best interest.