Consider this article a warning. Or, maybe consider it a spoof. Whatever you consider it, the facts supplied within are very odd, and all lead us to one question: Is it possible that a fourth round pick out of Sweden ruined an entire franchise?
Let’s start at the beginning. The Blue Jackets entered the 2017 NHL Draft without a first round pick. They dealt this pick to the Vegas Golden Knights along with forward David Clarkson, with an agreement in place that the Knights would leave a certain power forward (Josh Anderson) alone in their expansion draft.
The Jackets also did not have a second round pick in this draft – it was sent to the Vancouver Canucks as a result of the team hiring John Tortorella as their head coach. A rule that I’m always quick to point out, was rapidly changed after this situation, because the league decided it wasn’t achieving what they’d hoped it would achieve. Still, we didn’t have our own second round pick, it was used by Vancouver to select Jonah Gadjovich.
The Blue Jackets wound up trading prospect Keegan Kolesar to acquire a second round pick, which they used to select forward Alexandre Texier. They took goaltender Daniil Tarasov in the third round, and then used their fourth round pick on a talented sniper from Sweden, who has altered the course of this franchise at least a couple of times: Emil Bemstrom.
After being selected by the Blue Jackets, Bemstrom spent two more seasons in Sweden – the second of them in the top league, the SHL. As a 19 year old, he became the youngest player in league history to lead the league in goals. His 23 tallies tied Peter Forsberg and Patric Hornqvist for the third most by a teenager in league history.
As a result, his stocks were skyrocketing. As Jacket fans, we felt like our scouting staff had uncovered a diamond in the rough. Things were going so well for Emil, that GM Jarmo Kekalainen labelled him as “off limits” at the 2019 trade deadline – when the team was going all-in and acquiring talent for a Cup run.
Instead, the team traded away other prospects and draft capital, acquiring Matt Duchene, Ryan Dzingel, and adding depth on defense and in goal. Bemstrom, it seemed, was tabbed as one of the team’s top prospects. And this all seemed fair, if his play in Sweden was any indication. He seemed like another potential Oliver Bjorkstrand type player – or better. Unfortunately, things haven’t gone our way with this player.