Thanks to the 79 readers who submitted ballots in this year’s ranking of Columbus Blue Jackets players under the age of 25. Stay tuned over the next six weeks as we count down the top 25.
#15 Emil Bemstrom
15th out of 45 eligible players
Writer Rank: 15th
Reader Rank: 16th
Highest placement: 3rd (1 vote)
Most common placement: 16th (7 votes)
2022 Rank: 15th
Birthdate: June 1, 1999
Birthplace: Nykoping, Sweden
Weight: 195 lb
Acquired: 4th round pick (117th overall) in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft
The good news: Bemstrom set new career highs in assists (15) and points (22) and played the most NHL games since his rookie season (55), plus 21 games in Cleveland, where he put up 31 points.
The bad news: Bemstrom still hasn’t developed into the sniper we hoped he would be when he was drafted, or like he demonstrated as a 19 year old in the SHL, scoring 23 goals in 47 games for Djurgardens, plus 5 more in the playoffs.
There had been some signs in the past that he could be a solid checking line player, but last season his possession numbers reached an all-time low, even with more 5v5 OZ starts than DZ starts.
Bemstrom is entering the second season of a two-year, one-way deal with a cap hit of $900,000. He will be a restricted free agent next summer, with arbitration rights. To go back to Cleveland, he must clear waivers. He already did once, last fall at the start of the season.
His competition for playing time includes Eric Robinson, Alexandre Texier, Mathieu Olivier, Liam Foudy, Dmitri Voronkov, Justin Danforth, and Yegor Chinakhov. Bemstrom will need to have a fantastic preseason like he did in 2021 if he hopes to stand out in that pack.
I know it caused fans a couple months of stress because of the two points earned in this game that hurt the draft lottery odds, but let’s not kid ourselves: this is a pretty goal, and beating Pittsburgh is always cool.