The Blue Jackets recalled forward Emil Bemstrom from the Cleveland Monsters (AHL) yesterday, adding another option for coach Brad Larsen on the wings. With Jakub Voracek currently sitting out due to injury, opportunity presents itself for a more confident Bemstrom. Will his hot start in the AHL translate to the big club?
Nobody deserves this first call up opportunity more than Emil Bemstrom, who has been outstanding for the Monsters so far this season. Through 10 games, he has 7 goals and 14 points – tied for the league lead in scoring.
It would have been easy for him to complain, sulk, or ask for a trade after being sent down at the end of training camp. After all, he’d spent the bulk of the last three seasons in the NHL, and signed a two year, one-way deal with the club this summer. It seemed like his roster spot was pretty well solidified with the Jackets.
But things aren’t always so cut and dry, especially when so many wingers came to camp competing for spots. Bemstrom wasn’t bad in the preseason, but he wasn’t really good either. He didn’t do enough to stand out from the crowd, and thus was sent to the AHL to begin his year. He kept his attitude positive, and with a more determined mindset, he’s found his scoring confidence.
Bemstrom has been a scorer at every level except the NHL thus far, and if ever he were going to show that he can be a productive top-9 player in the big league, now is the time. I don’t think it’s really up for debate that he can be an NHL player; his underlying numbers will support that. Under former head coach John Tortorella, he’s developed into a quality two-way winger who can at least play depth minutes and not get caved in.
But what set him apart in his draft year – his lethal shot – has not yet been utilized enough at the NHL level. He’s a talented scorer who was obviously lacking confidence over the last couple of seasons. Even in prime scoring real estate, he would get the puck and double clutch, or elect to pass instead of shooting. It really looked like he needed some time in the AHL, and with that, has found his scoring touch again.
This time, I’m hoping we see a confident player, who wants to fire the puck every chance he gets. He’ll likely see some top-9 minutes as well, as the Jackets look for help at both ends of the ice. If he can continue to play like he has in the AHL, he will re-establish himself as an important piece of the future for this team. Read: The Curious Case of Emil Bemstrom
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