Heading into the final year of his current contract is Blue Jacket winger Emil Bemstrom. Now under his third head coach with the team, we have to believe this is his final chance to prove himself an NHL player in Columbus. Can he do that this season?
W Emil Bemstrom
5’10”, 195 pounds
2022-23 stats: 55GP, 7G, 15A, 22Pts, -11, 6PIMs
Acquired: Drafted 4th round, #117 overall, 2017 NHL Draft
Contract: $900k through 2023-24
Role: fringe roster player
Bemstrom will be trying to crack the CBJ roster for the fifth time when camp opens this fall. After struggling to stick around full-time in each of his first four attempts, he’ll have an even more difficult time this year as the Jackets have done a terrific job of adding depth and skill to their roster. But with new head coach Mike Babcock bringing a fresh look; is it possible that Bemstrom, a reliable two-way winger with some goal scoring ability, could actually win a job?
Sure, anything is possible. It’s just going to be really, really hard. At the very least, there are 11 players that are comfortably ahead of him on the depth chart, and probably several more that he’ll have to fully outwork to get past. It’s not that he’s a bad player – in fact, his advanced metrics show that he’s a reliable depth player – it’s just that he hasn’t yet shown us that goal scoring potential that made him such an intriguing prospect in the first place.
He will have to prove once and for all that he can be a productive player in the NHL. He doesn’t have to play top six minutes or produce at a point-per-game rate; but this is a guy whose shooting ability should make him a 20 goal threat on the third line. If he can work his way into the lineup and produce like that, he’ll be impossible for Mike Babcock to cut because he’s exactly the kind of two-way scoring threat that this coach will love to have.
Three keys to success:
- Confidence. Bemstrom dominated in the AHL last season before being called up by the Jackets as he was leading that league in scoring. He promptly moved onto the top line alongside Johnny Gaudreau … and then looked completely lost. Regaining and retaining that confidence could be a difference maker.
- Shoot the puck! How many times have we seen him get the puck in prime scoring areas, only to double clutch or lay a pass away instead of using that patented shot? 95 shots in 55 games isn’t nearly enough for a guy who should be scoring goals.
- Bring the intangibles. Keep being an effective two-way player, keep your chin up and accept whatever role you’re given. Then take full advantage of any opportunities.
Ultimately, with 17 guys fighting for 13-14 jobs, I think Emil Bemstrom is 15th or 16th on the depth chart, at his very highest point – which means he’s destined for the waiver wire. There is just too much talent here, especially on the wings, and even from a grinder/depth perspective the Jackets just have better options. Can you really see him beating out four of Liam Foudy, Mathieu Olivier, Justin Danforth, Eric Robinson, Cole Sillinger, Alexandre Texier, and Yegor Chinakhov for a job? Me either. It feels like Bemmer is on the outside looking in.