Emil Bemstrom Continues to Make a Case for His Spot on the Opening Night Roster

By Jacob Nitzberg on November 21, 2020 at 9:50 am
Feb 24, 2020; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets center Emil Bemstrom (52) skates with the puck against the Ottawa Senators in the overtime period at Nationwide Arena.
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Emil Bemstrom's rookie year had its ups-and-downs.

He had streaks of 15, 14, and 11 games without a goal. Despite that, the Swedish winger finished with 10 goals and 10 assists for a respectable 20 points in his rookie season. He also suffered a dislocated rib and broken cartilage in December that saw him miss a month of action.

In the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Bemstrom saw action in five games but failed to register a point, notching four shots on goal in those five contests as the Blue Jackets were eliminated by the Lightning in the first round. 

With the start date of the 2020-21 NHL season up in the air, Bemstrom decided to do what many other NHLers did: head overseas to play and keep their skills sharp. The Blue Jackets loaned Bemstrom to HIFK who plays in Liiga, the Finnish league. 

To say Bemstrom is taking advantage of the opportunity would be an understatement. At just 21 years old, he's fourth in points in Liiga with 17 in 15 games. He's tied for fifth in the league with eight goals, and is playing hard on every shift: 

There's still a lot of uncertainty regarding when the NHL season will begin, but players are hopeful that training camps will open in the middle of December, so Bemstrom still has some more time to develop. 

With the news of winger Gustav Nyquist's shoulder surgery, there is more room on the roster for Bemstrom. It's likely that Bemstrom, Eric Robinson, Kevin Stenlund, and Nathan Gerbe will compete for the final spots on the roster, and if Bemstrom can continue his strong play when he returns to the United States, he should be a lock to make the opening night roster.

Now that Bemstrom has a full NHL season under his belt and is continuing to improve his game overseas, the slumps that we saw during his rookie year should be smaller and less frequent. His wicked shot and skill with the puck will aid the Blue Jackets as they try to increase their scoring from a year ago.