Emerson Etem returned to skating with his Ducks teammates Tuesday morning and is prepared to be activated for the team’s regular-season home opener Thursday against the New York Rangers at Honda Center.
“I’m feeling good, I’m ready … I feel healthy, as good as I’ve been in awhile, that’s my threshold,” Etem said after the Tuesday morning skate at Honda Center. “If I feel I can manage what I’ve got – and I can – I feel like I’m ready to play.”
Etem, 21, suffered a lower-leg injury after scoring a goal Sept. 20 in San Jose. Etem collided with San Jose’s Raffi Torres.
The forward stayed in Anaheim as the Ducks opened the regular season with a 2-1 record against Colorado, Minnesota and Winnipeg, and a roster spot was cleared Monday when the Ducks moved center Peter Holland to minor-league Norfolk.
“He looked pretty good,” Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said after using Etem with center Nick Bonino and wings Matt Beleskey and Patrick Maroon. “It was a good idea to leave him behind and let him get all that extra work.”
Boudreau won’t overstate the potential of Long Beach’s Etem, but it’s high after he followed three regular-season goals last season with three more in the Ducks’ first-round seven-game series loss to the Detroit Red Wings.
“I’m excited he brings an element to our team.… I know he’s going to work really hard, absorb everything we tell him,” Boudreau said. “The one thing you can’t dictate is the type of numbers he’s going to put up.… We’re not going to measure him in terms of how many goals and assists.
“We’re going to measure him on how he helps the penalty-killing, how he’s going to help at times we need that energy guy, the guy who can skate, get in on the forecheck and bring the crowd to its feet at times.”
Etem anticipates the debut.
“I took from that playoff experience and built on it in exhibition season,” Etem said. “I’m going to work past this, and keep on with the consistency.”
Sidelined Ducks defenseman Luca Sbisa (ankle) did not skate Tuesday and said he hopes to play in the three-game homestand finale Oct. 16 versus Calgary.
Sbisa said he’s been impressed by how 19-year-old rookie Hampus Lindholm has performed in his absence, playing 18:41 thus far.
“He’s played with a lot of confidence,” Sbisa said. “Watching him carrying the puck up the ice, he’s not afraid of responsibility, and that shows other players and management he wants the spot.”
Forward Kyle Palmieri sat out practice Tuesday after getting hurt on the trip.
After getting smoked, 6-1, in the opener at Colorado, the Ducks rallied with an overtime victory at Minnesota and followed that with a win at Winnipeg.
Some Ducks said they “might’ve needed” that opening kick in the rear to find their focus.
“They’ve got character, they want to win, and after everybody saw film of the Colorado game they weren’t too happy with themselves with the pride they have,” Boudreau said. “I didn’t have to say much” after the opener, he said. “We all knew we weren’t good. But it’s only one game and our record after three games last year,” when the Ducks started 20-3-3, “was 2-1.”
Viktor Fasth wore an old-school hockey mask in practice Tuesday like the one original Mighty Ducks goalie Guy Hebert used to wear, preparing for “Throwback Night,” scheduled for Sunday to commemorate the franchise’s first win 20 years ago.
“I love all of this stuff,” Boudreau said. “They’ve done such a great job with this whole thing.”