Has Emil Bemstrom Finally Shown Enough To Prove His Value To Blue Jackets And Earn Regular Role Moving Forward?

By Will Chase on March 24, 2023 at 1:45 pm
Columbus Blue Jackets' Emil Bemstrom looks to make a pass during the first period against the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center.
Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
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Emil Bemstrom is nearing the completion of his fourth professional hockey season for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

With 19 points in 43 games, he'll likely set a new career high for points—the 20 points he registered in 2019-20 remains the high water mark. Bemstrom has six goals and 13 assists and he has a 0.44-point-per-game pace.

Bemstrom made his season debut on Nov. 10 and has become a lineup mainstay since late December. With this being a lost season for the Blue Jackets, and amid a plethora of injuries, it's allowed players like Bemstrom an extended look. Especially considering Bemstrom's two-year extension prior to the season and general manager Jarmo Kekalainen's comments at that time about the new contract.

He'll be set to make $900,000 next season before he's arbitration eligible as an RFA a year from now next summer.

One of Bemstrom's better games came just last time out during the overtime victory over the Washington Capitals on Tuesday in which he recorded his second multi-point game of the month with a goal and an assist. Bemstrom has three points over the last two games, picking up an assist versus the Anaheim Ducks on Mar. 17.

Just look at this connection from Tuesday with Patrik Laine and the heavy Bemstrom bomb to tie the game at five in the third period.

He also picked up an assist on the second goal for Columbus in the second period to cut the deficit to 3-2.

As highlighted in the article about the successful Blue Jackets' power play, Bemstrom has been among the fixtures on the second unit.

Sillinger - Roslovic - Johnson - Bemstrom - Blankenburg GP TOI GF GA xGF xGA
Power Play 23 15:16 3 1 2.22 0
Natural Stat Trick            
Bemstrom - Johnson - Sillinger GP TOI GF GA xGF xGA
Power Play 38 25:28 5 1 2.72 0.31
Natural Stat Trick            

He's still only 23 years old but has he really carved out an irreplaceable role?

Evolving-Hockey, Emil Bemstrom
Emil Bemstrom, Evolving-Hockey

At the very least, Bemstrom might have solidified a bottom-six role with power-play minutes and can be useful in this role for the club. But of course, the team will and should evaluate all options, both internally and otherwise over the summer.

Justin Danforth, out with a shoulder injury, is scheduled to be back with the club next season on the last year of a two-year deal ($975,000 AAV) signed last season. Alexandre Texier is apparently supposed to be back with the team. Then there are players such as Liam Foudy who have been starting to find the scoresheet with more regularity.

Throughout Bemstrom's career to this point, this year marks the best in terms of total assists/60 (1.31) at 5v5 play. He has 1.71 total points/60, which last season was a tick better (1.72), and his individual expected goals/60 is 0.78 which trails only Boone Jenner. Although this takes into consideration the limited amount of games played and minutes Bemstrom has compared to his teammates.

His 2.5 GF/60 is right behind Kent Johnson (2.56) but Johnson has played in 67 games and nearly double the minutes. Still, it's encouraging to see Bemstrom making the most of opportunities right now, even as only a bottom-six forward when perhaps more was expected, and maybe these numbers would continue over a larger stretch.

On the power play, Bemstrom is third on the team with 5.47 total points/60. Data per Natural Stat Trick.

Perhaps questionably enough coming off a two-point game, Bemstrom figured to be the odd man out as the healthy scratch tonight against the New York Islanders. Sean Kuraly, out since early March with an oblique injury, and who hasn't played in a game since Feb. 28, will reenter the lineup ahead of schedule.

But with Patrik Laine sustaining a triceps strain in practice on Thursday, it looks like Bemstrom will be in tonight.

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