After Emil Bemstrom’s 2019-2020 rookie season, the 22-year-old right winger only played 20 games this season thanks to a stint on injured reserve beginning on March 18th due to a lower body injury. The recovery took longer than expected, causing the Swede to miss 6 weeks in the line-up.
However, he had trouble finding the net prior to the injury: he played in 15 games but had only 2 assists and zero goals. He actually hadn’t scored for the Blue Jackets since March 8th, 2020, which subsequently saw his time on ice lessened. His absence of scoring hurt him and contributed to the team-wide scoring struggles. Bemstrom was originally moved into the line-up to lessen the blow after Artemi Panarin’s departure on the power play with his noted one-timer. Perhaps a lack of stability and the chance to build chemistry contributed to his scoring drought; he was moved around from the 2nd to 4th lines and played with various centers including Jack Roslovic, Nick Foligno, Rick Nash, and Alexandre Texier.
Bemstrom has 1 year left on this entry-level contract, which means the 2021-2022 season will be crucial to his future. The wings are the Blue Jackets’ deepest position and he certainly will have competition. Could he be part of a package with Seth Jones in exchange for Jack Eichel? Or will he be viewed as integral youth in the rebuild in Columbus?
Despite his scoring drought and injury, he finished the year with a bang. He officially returned to the line-up on May 1 versus the Carolina Hurricanes, but it was against the Nashville Predators on May 3 where he scored his first hat trick all in the third period. Bemstrom single-handedly forced an overtime that unfortunately the Jackets would ultimately lose (then was dissed post-game by fellow countryman Filip Forsberg). Coach Tortorella was impressed with his play, giving him a spot on the power play that contributed to the late game comeback.
In addition to the aforementioned injury, which he suffered during a practice, Bemstrom was demoted to the Taxi Squad on January 25 after being scoreless for 5 games and averaging just 11:49 of ice time.
Making any major presumptions after a season of injury and pandemic restrictions is unwise. Add shifting lines, taxi squads, lack of center talent, and stifled offensive creativity and it might be better to just ignore this season and have Bemstrom reset for next season. The lingering million-dollar questions are how does a sniper — any sniper — fit into the Blue Jackets line-up? What line makes the most sense? Can the new coach utilize his scoring prowess effectively? Will the Blue Jackets have enough center talent to make Bemstrom a consistent threat?
He is also young. We often make the mistake of assuming young players will burst onto the scene like Austin Matthews, scoring hat tricks in their first games and immediately becoming faces of the franchise. Bemstrom may need some time for normal development, as he’s only completed two seasons in his transition from Sweden’s SHL.
How would you grade Emil Bemstrom’s season?
This poll is closed