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2022 Player Review: Are the Blue Jackets sure Emil Bemstrom is an NHL player going forward?

Bemstrom played half of a season, scored 11 points … what are we doing here, exactly?

Montreal Canadiens v Columbus Blue Jackets Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

Emil Bemstrom came to the Columbus Blue Jackets three years ago as a rookie with some offensive promise (35 points in 47 games in the SHL prior to coming over), the promise of a wicked shot, and expected to step in to fill in for some of the offense lost with the departure of Artemi Panarin.

Three years later, Bemstrom looks like a guy who hasn’t developed into the NHLer fans expected, but is a bit too talented for the AHL - a tweener who can’t find his footing in the league. Bemstrom had two points in 4 AHL games this year, but 11 in 41 NHL games. He has a career 19-17-36 line in 117 NHL games, good for 0.3076 points per game in the NHL. Bemstrom scored six goals for the team this year, but six of his 11 points came in three games - he had five points in his remaining 38.

Bemstrom is an RFA this summer, and he’ll be qualified, but is he an NHLer long term? That’s something the Blue Jackets and player need to figure out together, and quickly. Right now, it certainly is an open question if he is worthy of a roster spot long-term.

Season Stats

Games Played: 41
Goals: 6
Assists: 5
Points: 11
Plus/Minus: -1
PIM: 4
5v5 CF%: 54.1%
5v5 FF%: 54.0%
oZS%: 56.3%

Contract Status

Emil Bemstrom is, like so many others, a restricted free agent this offseason. The critical decision, as outlined above, is whether or not to bring him back. He will certainly be qualified so that the Blue Jackets retain his rights, but beyond that? He’s a fourth line guy who produces at a minimal rate. I expect the Blue Jackets will probably re-sign him, but this is likely Bemstrom’s last crack at the NHL, at least with this club. He has to find a way to being producing and contributing relatively quickly this year to give the club a reason to keep him around.

High Point

As mentioned, Emil Bemstrom had a few multi-point games, but his only game winning goal on the year came in a January tilt against the Carolina Hurricanes. Bemstrom was +2 with two even strength points, including the game winning goal, as the Blue Jackets beat the Hurricanes in Raleigh.

Low Point

On April 9, 2022, the Blue Jackets beat the Detroit Red Wings 5-4. In that game, Emil Bemstrom played 15:58, managed no points, was on the ice for three five on five goals against for a -3, and lost a faceoff. In a game against another bad team with points available left and right, Bemstrom’s line got absolutely caved in with no pushback whatsoever.

Generally speaking, Bemstrom’s injury costing him much of the season (his oblique was injured early and he did not return until January) was his low point. Bemstrom was not lighting the score sheet on fire, nor did he after his return. Bemstrom’s defensive game improved this year, but not nearly enough to cement a no-doubt roster position.

Report Card

D. Overly critical? Possibly. A tad unfair, given his injury history and amount of games missed this season? Maybe. But the Columbus Blue Jackets have a boatload of bottom six and bottom pairing guys under contract / in the organization signed for term and dollars, and Emil Bemstrom didn’t significantly stand out from the pack unless there’s an award for “most disappointing offensive prospect since Sonny Milano was traded.”

It’s put up or shut up time for Bemstrom. Let’s see what he does this season.


How would you grade Emil Bemstrom’s 2021-22 season?

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