Emil Bemstrom is another player who took advantage of the injury situation in Columbus this year; earning more ice time in the NHL because of the roster shortages in Columbus. Unfortunately, he still struggled and has yet to establish himself as a full-time NHL player – which may have him on the outs this summer.
At one point, Emil Bemstrom was thought about as one of the top prospects in the Blue Jacket system, which should serve as a testament to how far things have come since 2019. The Jackets were coming off of three years of competing hard for playoff runs, which meant later draft picks (as is usually the case).
But it seemed like Bemstrom could be a diamond in the rough. He was putting up really good numbers in Sweden – especially if you’re counting goals – and we were all excited when he made the jump to North America for the 2019-20 season. Things haven’t gone how either side may have hoped however; and now four years and some really good drafts later, he’s being pushed out by younger, more talented prospects.
Case in point: this season. He started the year in the AHL, playing 21 games and scoring 14 goals and 31 points for the Cleveland Monsters before getting his shot with the Jackets full-time. He was almost immediately thrust onto the top line to play with Johnny Gaudreau, which we all hoped would help unlock his shooting potential.
But even playing alongside one of the best playmakers in the world, Bemstrom struggled to find any kind of offensive rhythm, only to be relegated back to bottom-six minutes. He bounced up and down the lineup for much of the season with the Jackets, eventually scoring 7 goals and 22 points in 55 games on the year.
The fact that Bemstrom, at 23 years old, with his skill and experience, was playing fewer minutes than free agent signee Hunter McKown, or waiver wire pickup Lane Pederson on a lot of nights, should give us a sign that things aren’t working out here. Bemstrom is an analytical darling, whose two-way game should be able to combine with his shooting ability to make a solid middle-six NHL winger – but he hasn’t yet put it all together.
Final season stats: 55 games played, 7 goals, 15 assists, 22 points, 6 PIMs, -11, 95 shots on goal. Overall grade: C-
There is still time for Bemstrom to find his game and be a productive NHL player. Unfortunately, it does not seem like it’s going to be in Columbus; he just hasn’t grabbed a role. With the return of Alexandre Texier, the arrival of Dmitri Voronkov, and the plethora of talent coming up through the system, it’s hard to see him on this roster in any significant role in the future either. He seems like a classic “4A” player – too good for the AHL, but not good enough to produce in the NHL. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him dealt for any reasonable asset this summer.