Mike Halford

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 28:  Emerson Etem #96 of the New York Rangers skates against the Philadelphia Flyers at Madison Square Garden on November 28, 2015 in New York City. The Flyers shutout the Rangers 3-0.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Trade: Canucks acquire Etem from Rangers for Jensen

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Looks like those Emerson Etem trade rumblings finally cracked the surface.

The Canucks have acquired Etem from the Rangers in exchange for Nicklas Jensen, per Sportsnet. The Rangers will also reportedly receive a late-round pick in the deal as well.

(Update: sixth-round pick in 2017.)

Etem, 23, was Anaheim’s first-round pick (29th overall) in 2010, and dealt to the Rangers at the ’15 draft in exchange for Carl Hagelin. A speedster with good skills, Etem has struggled to become a regular contributor at the NHL, despite showing flashes of promise (like his wonder goal against the Jets in last year’s opening playoff round.)

In Vancouver, he’ll be reunited with former junior coach Willie Desjardins. Etem scored 37 goals as a 17-year-old rookie for WHL Medicine Hat in 2009-10, the same year he got drafted.

As for Jensen, he’s also a former first-round pick: also 29th overall, but in 2011.

He’s similar to Etem in that he’s high on skill and skating ability, but has yet to see it translate to the big-league level. In 24 career games with Vancouver, he’s scored three goals and six points — and has spent all of this year with the Canucks’ AHL affiliate in Utica.

It’s worth noting that Jensen played under Canucks bench boss Alain Vigneault in Vancouver, so there’s some familiarity there. No word yet if he’ll report to New York, or AHL Hartford.

Goalie nods: After getting hurt versus Leafs, Gibson right back in for Ducks

John Gibson

Anaheim’s in desperate need for wins and, as a result, is rolling the dice a bit in goal tonight.

John Gibson, who exited Wednesday’s ugly 4-0 home loss to Toronto after a collision with Nazem Kadri, will be back in net when Anaheim hosts St. Louis at Honda on Friday.

Gibson, who made his first-ever NHL All-Star Game earlier this week, returned to practice yesterday, with Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau declaring his health “100 percent.”

It’s a little surprising the Ducks wouldn’t give Gibson a night off to rest, especially with a capable goalie like Frederik Andersen waiting in the wings.

Of course, Gibson is 8-5-2 with a 1.75 GAA and .929 save percentage since his recall, helping Anaheim force itself back into the playoff picture in the lowly Pacific Division. So maybe it’s not surprising Boudreau is going this direction.

No word on a Blue starter yet.

Elsewhere…

— Looks as though Jonas Gustavsson will give Tuukka Rask a night off as Boston plays in New Jersey. The Devils, as per usual, are going with Cory Schneider.

— After a strong outing on Tuesday (29 saves on 31 shots in a loss to Minnesota), Anton Forsberg gets the start again for Columbus. Cam Ward‘s in goal for the host Hurricanes.

Chad Johnson for Buffalo, Corey Crawford for Chicago as the Sabres take on the ‘Hawks at the United Center.

— No rest for Semyon Varlamov tonight, as he’ll continue to start for the Avs during their lengthy homestand. He’ll likely be up against Pekka Rinne, who looks to have the start for Nashville.

Cam Talbot gets another start when the Oilers host the Bolts in Edmonton. No word yet on a Tampa Bay starter.

As trade rumors swirl, Rangers send Etem for conditioning stint

EDMONTON , AB - DECEMBER 11: Emerson Etem #96 of the New York Rangers puts on the brakes against the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place on December 11, 2015 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.(Photo by Dan Riedlhuber/Getty Images)
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Plenty of smoke coming from the Big Apple on Friday.

Officially, the Rangers sent forward Emerson Etem to AHL Hartford on a conditioning stint, per the Daily News.

Blueshirts head coach Alain Vigneault said Etem’s stay in the minors will be three games long.

But that’s not the whole story about the 23-year-old forward, who was acquired from Anaheim in the Carl Hagelin trade at the draft. It also sounds as though he’s smack in the middle of some serious trade rumors:

Almost immediately, Etem’s name was linked to Vancouver. Back in 2009-10, Etem starred as a rookie in WHL Medicine Hat under now-Canucks coach Willie Desjardins.

Etem scored 37 goals as a 17-year-old and, following the season, was taken 29th overall by Anaheim at the draft.

Though the speedster has shown flashes of real talent over his career, Etem has struggled to maintain consistency at the NHL level. He’s appeared in just 19 games for the Rangers this year, going goalless with just three points.

See you in February? Habs say Price won’t return before All-Star Game

Carey Price
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Looks like Montreal is taking a very, very cautious approach with Carey Price‘s return from injury.

Price, who’s been out of the lineup since Nov. 25, will remain out until after the 2016 NHL All-Star Game, set to be played in Nashville on Jan. 31.

At first glance, the decision might seem rife with concern — the reigning NHL MVP has already missed a ton of time this year, and will now essentially be shelved for another month — but, digging a little deeper, the move is logical.

See, the Habs had a really busy December. It ended with a six-game road swing that extended into this month, with the Winter Classic at Gillette Stadium and Tuesday’s 4-3 loss in Philly.

As a result, the schedule makers gave Montreal a pretty light January.

The Habs actually only have eight games left before the ASG: versus Pittsburgh, versus Chicago, at St. Louis, at Chicago, versus Boston, at Toronto, then a home-and-home set with Columbus to close things out.

The decision to keep Price parked was probably made easier by the recent play of Mike Condon. His last two starts have been great — he stopped 27 of 28 shots in a 5-1 win over Boston at the Winter Classic, then made 19 saves on 20 shots in a 2-1 victory against the Devils on Wednesday.

All told, Condon’s sporting a .930 save percentage in his last five appearances.

Kassian opens up about struggles with alcoholism

Henrik Sedin
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Poignant piece here from the Edmonton Sun’s Terry Jones on Zack Kassian, the troubled former first-round pick that — after spending several months in the NHL’s Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health program — is now trying to work his way back into the league, currently plying his trade with the Oilers’ AHL affiliate in Bakersfield.

Some of the more intriguing parts of the article:

— Kassian admitted he’s an alcoholic and has stopped drinking, period. “In no sense am I cured or fixed,” he said. “But I have a good foundation to build off going forward.”

— At 24, he realizes this is probably his final kick at the can. Kassian’s now with his fourth franchise (drafted by Buffalo, traded to Vancouver, traded to Montreal, traded to Edmonton).

“I’m really looking to turn the corner. The one thing I believe throughout all this is that it has really built my character.

“It’s something that I had to go through to get it. Finally. Sadly. But I’m very confident that I do have a grasp on it and I am moving forward.”

Kassian says he absolutely, completely, totally, 100% understands this is it for him.

“Most definitely this is my last chance,” he said.

— He’s been a fairly noteworthy contributor for Bakersfield in what, admittedly, is a pretty small sample size. He fired four shots on goal in his team debut, then scored a goal in his second outing.

— Kassian clearly has an eye on an NHL return in the near future. “They have a lot of skill and talent up there,” he said, referencing all the quality young players on the Oilers roster. “I’m looking to bring some sandpaper.”