By Kyle Shohara
Fans longing for hockey found their fix this afternoon as the Ducks opened their first day of rookie camp inside Honda Center. Among those who took to the ice were former first-round draft picks Shea Theodore (2013), Hampus Lindholm (2012) and Rickard Rakell (2011), and offseason acquisition Stefan Noesen.
Also on the ice was 21-year-old Emerson Etem, who says he’s embracing a leadership-type role during this week-long camp.
“Being a leader, first and foremost,” he said, when asked what he’s looking forward to achieving during this week-long camp. “I’m one of a couple guys here with some NHL experience. I think it’s up to us to show the guys who maybe have nerves heading into this, that we’re here to help.”
Etem is among a handful of Ducks who have NHL experience on their resumes, including Devante Smith-Pelly, who has 56 career NHL games under his belt.
“I like to joke around and have a good time,” Etem said. “I think they kind of gravitate to that, and it makes it easy for them to feel more comfortable.”
One of the reasons why Etem is excited about this camp is the opportunity to get him prepared for main camp next week. “Get the legs going, get the timing back, on the ice every day,” he said. “It’s very intense. You’re in game situations and you’re going over the systems again, so come main camp, you already have it down.”
As Etem noted, today was an opportunity to get the legs going and shake off any rust that may have stuck around from the summer.
“It’s been a while since I’ve skated here,” said World Junior Championship MVP and Gold Medalist John Gibson (drafted by Anaheim in the second round in 2011). “I’m just happy to be back out there and be with all the guys. We’re all just looking forward to getting some high quality play.”
Much like Etem, Gibson now finds himself in a mentoring-type role for the younger players attending camp. “You always want to help the rookies out in any way possible,” he said. “I’m still learning from those guys, too. I think everybody has something to learn, and we’re all trying to help each other out.”
A first-timer to rookie camp this year is Stefan Noesen, a hard-nosed physical forward who the Ducks acquired from the Senators in the offseason in the trade that sent Bobby Ryan to Ottawa. The 20-year-old picked up 25 goals and 53 points with a +7 rating and 53 PIM in 51 contests with the Plymouth Whalers (OHL) last season, including 19 points with a +15 rating in 15 postseason contests, ranking second on the club in points and plus/minus.
“Today was more of a tracking day,” he said. “We were backchecking a lot and working on getting up and down the ice. That’s what we need right now, to get back in game shape. Just being able to get on the ice and have an actual practice instead of sticks and pucks is good for us.”
Day 2 of rookie camp will be held tomorrow at Honda Center, with practice scheduled from 9:15 to 10:45 a.m. Admission is free, though the practice time is subject to change. Fans interested in attending should check AnaheimDucks.com for schedule updates.
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