Etem, summoned from Norfolk, Va., of the American Hockey League after Matt Beleskey sustained a shoulder injury that will idle him for two to four weeks, isn’t being counted upon to score a lot. Of course, the Ducks, who are in a 1-3-1 slump as they prepare to face Tampa Bay on Wednesday night, certainly would welcome any offensive contributions the Long Beach native can provide.
“Obviously we’re in a bit of a funk right now, but I’m here to maybe add that little spark, get the guys going,” Etem said after the Ducks’ morning skate. “I’m going to be playing a bottom-two line energy role, so I’m excited.
“... I have one job to do and that’s create energy, make sure I’m up on the bench talking to guys. And hopefully I get a lot of shots on net or at least use my speed to get in open areas to generate a couple of shots and maybe get that secondary scoring that we need.”
Etem had 13 goals and 22 points in 21 AHL games this season. He and defenseman Josh Manson were called up on Tuesday after it was determined that Beleskey and defenseman Sami Vatanen will be out for a while. Vatanen’s injury is to his leg, and he is expected to miss four to six weeks.
Etem, 22, has been up and down before. When he was reassigned to Norfolk on Jan. 2, he was told to avoid the fancy stuff.
“I definitely have been working on stopping the circling and more straight lines and finishing my checks down there, and I think that’s leading to more offensive chances,” he said. “I’ve just got to maybe not worry about offense first up here, but worry about the defensive side, and hopefully, that will give me a lot more chances.”
Coach Bruce Boudreau said the biggest issue with Etem has been a lack of consistency.
“He brings a lot when he can skate. He’s big, he’s strong, he’s got a nose for the net,” Boudreau said. “But at this level, you need to do it nine out of 10 games. You can’t do it five out of 10 games. He knows what he has to do.
“He’s got all the ability in the world to be a good NHL player. We think it’s just a development growth thing and hopefully, this time, with Matty being out for a couple weeks at least, that he’s going to have a good opportunity to show what he can do. And hopefully he does it.”
This will be Manson’s second chance in the NHL. He was with the Ducks from Oct. 31 through Dec. 10 and was often impressive, though his play tailed off toward the end of his stay. Manson, son of former NHL defenseman Dave Manson, said his previous experience should help him this time.
“You know how fast the game is and how skilled the players are,” he said. “So I’m kind of not going in blind, but I want to go in with that same mentality of like it’s my first game. I’ve got a lot to improve.”
When he was dispatched to Norfolk, he was given some clear advice.
“Just to keep it simple. Get the puck off your stick as soon as you get it on and know what you’re going to do with the puck,” he said. “Guys forecheck too hard in this league, they’re too fast. If you turn the puck over, it’s probably going to end up in the back of your net. When I went back down, don’t slow your game down, keep it at the NHL level and move pucks quickly, that’s what I tried to do.”
Boudreau said defenseman Hampus Lindholm is a game-time decision though he wouldn’t specify why. Lindholm missed a game last week because of a lower-body injury. John Gibson is expected to start in goal for the Ducks against the Lightning, which lost to the Kings, 3-2, on Monday at Staples Center.