Unable to crack the Rangers’ roster, winger Emerson Etem, who was acquired from Anaheim for Carl Hagelin last summer in a package that included draft picks, was traded to Vancouver yesterday for winger Nicklas Jensen and a sixth-round draft pick in 2017.
“Emerson got off to a tough start and hasn’t seemed to gain any traction,” general manager Jeff Gorton said. “It goes back to training camp.”
Etem, 23, had three assists in 19 games and has been surpassed on the depth chart by former Penguin Jayson Megna, who had a goal and an assist in his Rangers debut against Dallas on Tuesday.
The Rangers sensed that Etem would be claimed if placed on waivers, and to avoid that, they initially decided to send him to the Hartford Wolf Pack for conditioning before concluding an agreement with the Canucks.
Jensen, 22, a native of Denmark, was selected by the Canucks in the first round of the 2011 draft (29th overall) and has four goals and 12 points in 27 games with the Utica Comets (AHL). The 6-3, 202-pound forward has three goals and six points in 24 NHL games. He will report to Hartford.
Restricted by the salary cap, the Rangers were unable to keep Hagelin. In the trade with the Ducks, the Rangers also acquired Ryan Gropp. Gropp, 19, is a forward with the Seattle Thunderbirds and has 32 points in 34 games this season.
“Yes, Gropp was a key, and yes, we expected more from Emerson,” Gorton said.
Gorton, who is in his first year as the Rangers’ general manager, acknowledged that the team’s recent struggle, including a 5-11-2 slide, “was hard to watch . . . I’d like to think we’re starting to see signs of getting better and coming out of it. We have a number of players who can all play better.”
He said he has “faith” but did not rule out moves before the Feb. 29 trade deadline. “We’ve had a lot of conversations with a lot of teams,’’ he said. “For the 100 conversations, you have one trade . . . I’d like to see how the team’s going to respond. How they’re playing is going to dictate that.”
One decision involves defenseman Keith Yandle, the team’s most prominent unrestricted free agent. “As a UFA, he stands to do quite well,” Gorton said. “I’ve had some discussions with his agent, we’re at a point where we’ll wait and see how the team does and go from there.”
Chris Kreider (cut on right hand) will not dress for Saturday afternoon’s game against the Capitals at the Garden. Kreider, who did not play against Dallas, said he wants to play, but team trainers recommended that he be held out for a second game. D Dylan McIlrath also is expected to be scratched. . . . The Capitals (30-7-3) are No. 2 in the NHL with 31 power-play goals in 122 opportunities. . . . A Rangers scout was expected to watch Tampa Bay prospect Jonathan Drouin, who has asked to be traded, play for the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch this weekend.