Manor 2024 NHL Draft Preview: Defenseman E.J. Emery, USA


They see me rollin'. They hatin'.
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It’s NHL Draft season. Both the Kings front office and and MM staff have turned their attention from on-ice action to what’s coming up in Las Vegas next month.

Generally speaking, Mayor’s Manor prospect interviews are reserved for players who were previously drafted. This next featured prospect in our 2024 series is rather special, though, as he’s already been featured on Kings of the Podcast. What makes this player even more remarkable are his familial ties to SoCal.

It’s a rather revealing interview and should not be missed.

While the Kings have a healthy arrangement of right-shot defensemen, this big blueliner would bring some different elements compared to what names like Doughty, Roy, Clarke, and Spence provide.

E.J. Emery


Date of Birth: March 30, 2006
Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 185 lbs
Shoots: Right
Position: Defense

2023-24 Season

Emery spent his entire season with the US National Team Development Program (USNTDP). In 58 games, he produced 14 assists, 61 penalty minutes, and recorded a plus-30 rating.

Let’s Dual

Born in Canada, Emery is still eligible for Team USA due to having dual-citizenship. His father went to Cal State Fullerton and lived in Compton.


When prospects play in minor junior hockey in North America – such as BCHL, AJHL, or the USHL (where the USNTDP plays most of their games) – college becomes the next step of their hockey career. Emery was courted by multiple teams. The WHL’s Saskatoon Blades drafted him in their 2021 Bantam Draft, yet playing in that league would make him ineligible for the NCAA. The University of Michigan, Michigan State, and North Dakota were the leading suitors for him to join their teams next year. Ultimately, Emery committed himself to the UND Fighting Hawks.

Forgive the Inspiration

The Color of Hockey unearthed information that while Emery played Canadian Football in his youth, it was also natural for a Surrey native to be a fan of the Vancouver Canucks. It was after watching the Canucks get eliminated by the Bruins in 2011 that he committed to hockey full time and decided to give up football.

Rankings by Independent Scouting Services

Ranked No 35 by Future Considerations as of March 16. A subsequent report noted, “Emery, stalwart and aggressive, is a true blueliner who is adept at clogging high-danger areas and corralling bouncing pucks. He utilizes his full frame and his stick to both take away critical passing lanes and challenge the puck-carrier.”

Ranked No 30 by Elite Prospects. An NHL scout remarked to EP Rinkside, “He’s the best prospect on their backend. He can be a Derek Forbort type. He’s puck capable, but there isn’t pro-offense in his game. He’s big, long, mobile and athletic. He defends well. If he buys into being a tough physical defender, eat pucks, and kill penalties kind of guy he’s going to play in NHL and for a long time.”

Ranked No. 43 by Dobber Prospects in February. They wrote, “Emery’s drop in our rankings from 27th to 43rd is based on two factors: other prospects have elevated their game, and Emery hasn’t as much over the past three months. Since our last rankings, Emery has only logged three points in 11 games, and although offense is not what he is known for, you want to see at least some form of adaptation to get more pucks to dangerous areas, and we just haven’t.

A fantastic skater with some of the best rush defending tools in this draft.”

See For Yourself

Here is a video of E.J. Emery playing against the USHL’s Fargo Force:

There have been previous remarks in the past articles about how character and culture, and having depth in play, can take a prospect very far. With Emery, he plays a steady, rugged game, and doesn’t shy away from contact. He seems to fit the Los Angeles Kings culture of being tough to play against.

As remarked by the scouts, though, he hasn’t shown many tools that suggest offensive upside. When “depth of game” gets discussed, the rangy, rugged blueliner still seems to fall a bit short on that. Let’s start with the growth opportunities.

His creativity in the offensive zone is very limited. He doesn’t confuse opponents with head fakes or spin-o-ramas. There are no overt or covert attempts to draw defenders in the offensive zone before feeding a teammate. Moving the puck around the boards is an act out of necessity rather than style. Emery gravitates towards hanging back and not risking an unnecessary pinch. Barring a general philosophical change or additional growth of offensive skills, don’t look for the rangy defender to put up points on a large scale.

With the drawbacks discussed, it is now time to discuss the qualities that make him worthy of a high pick. The defender plays the namesake of his position extremely well. He boasts a long reach with his 6-foot-3 frame, and has a good combination of mobility and balance to close the gaps against attackers. Even with more agile opposition, his active stick creates trouble where even raw puck skills isn’t a guarantee to get past him.

As if playing against Emery isn’t miserable enough, his physical engagement hasn’t even been discussed. While all young players still need time to develop strength, the blueliner’s ability to pin players along the boards wears down the opposition, making forechecks a war of contrition against him. He hits hard and punishes opponents in front of the net.

In summary, Emery is very much a throwback to former Kings stanley cup winner Matt Greene. The ferocity may be dialed down a bit, although additional mobility makes up the difference. The end result is a player who defines “hard to play against,’ which always seems to be a type of person Los Angeles loves adding to their organization.

Chat with David: You can find him on Twitter @Davidenkness to talk more hockey.

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