Emil Bemstrom's arrival to the Columbus Blue Jackets comes at a welcome and opportune time.
Despite having the dangerous Artemi Panarin, the Blue Jackets trotted out a surprisingly futile power play with him in the lineup, finishing dead last in the NHL over the past two years combined (16.3%). With his departure, the organization will have a chance to start fresh and explore all personnel options - and they won't need to look far.
Bemstrom, who comes to Columbus from Sweden's top pro league, the SHL, is a ready-made power-play sniper with a shoot-first mentality. In the club's preseason opener, the 20-year old needed just 0:52 to show off his best asset, a one-timer from the (Alexander) "Ovechkin spot".
The rocket, which opened the scoring in a 4-1 win that showcased young talent, should be a sign of things to come. This excellent piece by Scott Wheeler of The Athletic showed how Bemstrom is, like Cam Atkinson, adept at finding soft spots and getting 'lost' in the opposition's coverage, only to find himself open at the perfect time and in the deadliest spot.
To quote Wheeler:
The skill of the shot remains important, but a player’s ability to get to dangerous areas matters just as much, if not more.
While this skill will serve him well 5v5, it should be even easier for him to find open pockets when a team is up a man on the power play. As Ovechkin has proven for nearly 15 seasons now, it isn't terribly difficult to find room on the periphery of a power-play formation. Harder, obviously, is having the talent to beat a goalie - consistently, no less - from that spot. The below video is a compilation of every Ovechkin goal from his patented spot through from his rookie year through 2017-18, and viewers will notice that on most of his goals, he's either standing still or barely moving; he doesn't need to be, the lack of skaters on the other team will naturally gift him that space.
Not to say that Bemstrom will be Ovechkin, but he is in some elite goal-scoring company in his own right. His 23 goals were tied with Tomas Sandstrom (1982-83), Peter Forsberg (1992-93) and Patric Hornqvist (2006-07) for the third-most by a teenager in a season in SHL history, trailing only Kent Nilsson (28, 1975-76) and Elias Pettersson (24, 2017-18).
The Blue Jackets power play has nowhere to go but up. GM Jarmo Kekalainen knows this, and much of the reason for his confidence in his team now and going forward is due to having a player like Bemstrom ready to fill the scoring void. Kekalainen said as much in his post-NHL Draft media availability:
"He's as good of a power-play player as you can get...We were looking for a guy on the power play this year who can shoot the puck like he can."
Bemstrom's game should translate into scoring goals for the Blue Jackets this year, should the team deem him ready for the NHL. If not, he'll go to the AHL, where he'll continue to progress and mature. But whether it's right out of camp, later this season, or down the road, the Blue Jackets have to be thrilled to have a prospect of his ilk ready to bomb away for years to come on their power play.