Is Emil Bemstrom the next great Swede?
It is going to be hard to stop the Bemstrom hype train.
The Columbus Blue Jackets have seen great prospects come in and out of the system. The hype around players like Vitali Abramov and Oliver Bjorkstrand was palpable. The excitement made sense, and they had seasons that were impressive within their respective leagues.
Bemstrom, though, is on another level. He isn't doing this in a minor league; he is doing it in a professional league. In the SHL (Swedish Hockey League), he led the league in goal scoring. He didn't do this as a fully developed prospect either; he did it as a U20 player.
Going into the archives of the SHL and looking at goal scoring among U20 players, the company that Bemstrom sits amongst is on a legendary, near Hall-of-Fame level.
Sandwiched between Bemstrom for players in his age bracket are Peter Forsberg, Daniel Sedin, and Elias Petterson. That is enough to make you start thinking of his acceptance speech.
So, what exactly is there to worry about with Bemstrom?
Taking into account the context of how he has been used and realizing that he is fed pucks in a specific spot, you can get used to the idea that Bemstrom might be a one trick pony.
Which is all well and good, but what about his defense? What about less time and space on smaller ice? Include that into the size concerns; it makes sense why you may want to temper your expectations.
Going back to the other side of the conversation, Bemstrom is shooting the puck and scoring a bunch but when has that ever been considered a bad thing? The name of the game is scoring more than the other team. Weaponizing it is a great way to make a player useful. Even if you don't get a defensive game to your liking, Bemstrom's trick is one any team in the NHL can use.
Overhyping prospects is easy to do. Every team does it, and every fan base does it. What happens more often than not is fitting a round peg into a square hole. Realizing where the strengths lie and enabling the player is a better strategy than making a player overhaul his game.
We know what Bemstrom can do offensively. The question now becomes is he going to get the opportunity to flourish as a weapon that the Blue Jackets desperately need?
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