Emil Bemstrom, 6-0, 193 pounds
June 1, 1999 (23 years old)
Drafted 4th round (#117 overall), 2017 NHL Draft
Cap hit: $900k through 2023-24
Role: Depth winger
Given a two year contract extension this summer, Emil Bemstrom will look to finally establish himself firmly as an NHL player with the Blue Jackets. Once considered a top prospect for the club, Bemstrom is at risk of being passed up by more than a few younger players on the depth chart, and needs to find his role. This fall, he’ll have to compete hard just to remain on the NHL roster after training camp; but if he can find his game, he can be an important part of this team.
Though just 23 years old, it really feels like Bemstrom has been a part of this organization forever. Coming out of Sweden as a highly touted goal scorer, the hype simply might have been too much for him and he hasn’t found anywhere near the same level of success in North America. But, even though he hasn’t yet reached that 30 goal potential, I would argue that he’s been a pretty good find for the Blue Jackets, who could still become a secondary scoring contributor.
Bemstrom has turned into an effective two-way winger, playing well enough defensively to continue to earn looks in the NHL, despite not scoring goals as expected. On the one hand, it’s maddening to watch him second guess his shot and not find offensive rhythm; but on the other hand, he’s actually been a nice fourth round find. In fact, only one player from the fourth round (or later) of the 2017 draft class has more games played than his 117 (Drake Batherson, OTT); and he’s also the only player with more points. I still think Bemstrom is a developing prospect, who is simply taking a little bit longer to find his game.
Three Keys to Success
- Shoot. No really, just shoot the puck! His 6 goal total from last season is a reflection of him shooting the puck only 62 times in 41 games. He should be shooting the puck every chance he gets, much like Patrik Laine or Yegor Chinakhov. He really does have a good release, and would benefit greatly from using it.
- Stay healthy. A common theme in our season previews, but it’s worth noting that Bemstrom has missed a lot of time early in his career due to injuries. He needs to be skating and developing nightly.
- Embrace a depth role. It’s extremely unlikely that Emil will be a top-six forward on this team … or even a top-nine forward. There’s just too much skill ahead of him. So, his best bet for ice time is probably as a two-way forward on the fourth line. Try to gain chemistry with Eric Robinson and Sean Kuraly, and play a bottom six role.
2022-23 Expectation: Show everyone you can play in the NHL.
You can find depth players in a variety of ways, but if you can find one that chips in 20-30 goals, you can build an elite lineup. Bemstrom has that kind of goal scoring potential, and I would argue that his all-around game is already strong enough to play on a third or fourth line in this league. He reminds me a lot of David Perron in the way he plays, and really in his development curve. Like Bemstrom, Perron was a bit of a late bloomer offensively, but he’s always been a consistent two-way player, with a high-end shot. While I don’t envision 60 point seasons from Bemstrom, I think their playstyles are eerily similar, and that he has a lot to bring to this team still. The Blue Jackets just hope he can figure it out soon. Read: 2022 Season Preview: Justin Danforth