Emil Bemstrom Trade Signals Changing of the Guard for the Blue Jackets

The Blue Jackets kicked off the expected transitional phase that comes after making a GM change on Thursday night. By dealing away a player that they hung onto for too long, they signal a new direction.
Columbus Blue Jackets v Seattle Kraken
Columbus Blue Jackets v Seattle Kraken / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

Truthfully, the Thursday night trade between the Blue Jackets and the Pittsburgh Penguins was a very minor move. It's about as low-risk as they come, with the teams swapping two players who don't fit into the plans on either side.

Emil Bemstrom Traded

For the Penguins, this seems like an attempt to get an NHL player ahead of the trade deadline, possibly pre-empting bigger changes on their end. Bemstrom fills a need by playing a low-event style. He's a serviceable NHL player, if not the goal scorer we long hoped he would become.

I have no doubt that he will be a reliable two-way winger for the Penguins. He can play in the bottom-six, and a change of scenery was absolutely needed here. I hope he gets his career back on track in Pittsburgh.

In return, the Blue Jackets get a player who will probably take Bemstrom's place in the press box on most nights in Alex Nylander. The 8th overall pick from the 2016 NHL Draft has struggled with consistency at every stop.

By picking him up, the Jackets change virtually nothing in their plans, as he's an unrestricted free agent after this season. They can plug him into the lineup as needed; and having him out of the lineup effects nothing.

The important piece of this trade for the Blue Jackets is that conditional 2026 draft pick. When you see the conditions, this was a shrewd trade by interim GM John Davidson, in my opinion.

Bemstrom has passed through waivers multiple times over the last two seasons. For the team to acquire any kind of asset for him is a very positive outcome. But in this case, JD nets a sixth round draft pick that turns into a third round draft pick if Bemstrom scores 6 more goals this season.

In 32 games this season, Bemstrom scored 5 goals with the Blue Jackets. The Penguins have 28 games remaining, so it's very feasible that he could get into their lineup and score 6 or more goals by the time this year is over with. Especially if he sees any ice time with Evgeni Malkin or Sidney Crosby.

If JD is able to turn this player into a third round pick, that's a terrific trade. Even a sixth round pick is a win, however, for a guy who needed to be moved years ago.

This trade signals the changing of the guard for the Blue Jackets. Bemstrom was a Jarmo Kekalainen player. He drafted him, developed him, and continued to extend him new contracts even after it was obviously not working.

Over the years, Kekalainen always seemed to have one of these "4A utility" players on his roster. Thinking back to players like Lukas Sedlak and Markus Hannikainen, to name a couple; there were always guys here who were too good for the AHL, but not good enough to be every day NHL players.

Hopefully, this is just the beginning for the Jackets. There are a few more players floating around here that they can certainly move on from.