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Emerson Etem Needs To Play (At The Expense Of Tanner Glass Or Jarret Stoll)

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Emerson Etem continues to be used as a punching bag, and eventually it's going to hurt the Rangers.

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

This has gone on long enough.

That the Rangers seem more than willing to allow a 23-year-old player (which they traded away a key player to acquire) to rot in the press box rather than to see what they have is insanity. We've talked about it. We've talked about it again. And now here we are, talking about it again. Again.

Emerson Etem needs to play hockey games. When Derek Stepan went down with a broken rib injury it was a perfect opportunity to get Etem quality playing time. It should have been the time to give him a real chance to see if he can hang in this system and grow as a hockey player in the NHL.

Instead, Alain Vigneault called up Tanner Glass because Etem was sick. And while I truly believe Etem was sick before the game against the Islanders, not playing after because he "hadn't skated" was a sign of things to come. Vigneault told the media after the game (I'm paraphrasing) "no one should lose their job because they're sick but oh well." And now Etem is sitting. And sitting. And sitting.

The problem isn't Glass' play for once, either. Glass has actually been solid -- a positive possession player and generating chances the other way these past four games. Jarret Stoll, however, has seen his possession metrics drop and (outside of his faceoff abilities) has struggle in a few different categories. Sit one of them for Etem. I don't care which -- which is saying something about how well Glass has played.

But Etem cannot continue to rot in the press box. He can't continue to be a spare part where the Rangers don't seem to care about their investment or his development. My biggest issue with Glass has always been his presence has barred better, younger players from making an impact. That's not his fault, either. When a head coach allows guys like Anthony Duclair, Oscar Lindberg (last year), J.T. Miller, Jesper Fast and now Etem left for the wolves behind Glass, that's a problem with the man in charge. And you can also blame the respective general managers for not stepping in to see what the deal is.

A few beat reporters speculated Kevin Hayes might sit tonight because he got a "stern talking to" at practice yesterday. That would drive me insane. To sit players who have skill and are long-term options for the team in favor of short-term players (Glass and Stoll) is nuts. If Hayes sits for slumping then where is the hook for Dan Girardi or Marc Staal? Or Stoll? Or Glass last year/the first part of this year?

Vigneault has always played his favorites. Always. It's a problem that's followed him from Montreal to Vancouver and now it's here again in New York. There's more than enough smoke for there to be fire on this, and Vigneault's body of work on Broadway is extensive enough to mark this as a fact.

If the Rangers are willing to lose Hagelin and hang their return on the cap space they saved (and are wasting on guys like Girardi and Staal) and Ryan Gropp (who is a legit prospect) then fine. But that would mean Hagelin was worth nothing more than a salary dump and a second round pick. The Rangers could have done much, much better than that.

It's a mismanagement of assets.

The same way sitting Etem is right now.