Blue Jackets’ Bemstrom Says He’s Ready For Another NHL Shot

Emil Bemstrom was ready to take the next step in his Blue Jackets’ career. Armed with a new contract and the backing of management, it seemed he was one of the opening night roster locks the team had during training camp.

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Except an unexpected thing happened. Bemstrom not only didn’t make the Blue Jackets, he wasn’t even one of the last cuts the team made. Talk about a major plot twist for someone just coming off their first double-digit goal season in the NHL.

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However now, Bemstrom is thriving with his new found opportunity. In the Cleveland Monsters 4-2 win over the Chicago Wolves on Saturday night, he scored two goals and added an assist when his shot was tipped in by Kirill Marchenko.

Bemstrom is now tied for the AHL lead in points with 14. His seven goals is one off the league lead behind Toronto Marlies’ Adam Gaudette. He’s been a force offensively so far along with Marchenko.

Vogelhuber’s Thoughts on Bemstrom

Monsters’ head coach Trent Vogelhuber has played Bemstrom in all situations since his arrival in Cleveland. When he’s not lightning the lamp or setting up his teammates, he is out playing defense when protecting a lead.

Vogelhuber has been impressed with Bemstrom’s early performance to date this season. He also realizes that Bemstrom hasn’t had a lot of these extra opportunities before.

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“He’s got so much poise with the puck,” Vogelhuber said of Bemstrom. “It’s probably the most he’s played and the most he’s touched the puck in quite some time because he’s been in Columbus. The power-play half wall and top-six minutes are harder to come by in (the NHL). So I think he’s really having fun doing that again.

Emil Bemstrom Blue Jackets
Monsters’ coach Trent Vogelhuber says Emil Bemstrom is having fun again. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

“He’s got so much poise with the puck and he makes around him better. Every pass is on the tape and in the wheelhouse for shooters and he’s got a lethal shot. That’s what makes him the most dangerous. He’s a shoot first guy which we preach to the locker room. We want shot volume.

“He’s a great example for us for the young guys when you get in the offensive zone to have that scorer’s mentality and a little bit of swagger there and throwing it to the net. He’s gotten rewarded so far this season for it.”

Bemstrom’s Thoughts

We got the chance to catch up with Bemstrom postgame on Saturday night. From what’s working with the Monsters to what could be next, he had some interesting things to say. Here is our conversation.

The Hockey Writers: It looks like you are having fun out there again. Does that come along with your confidence? Is this the most confident you’ve felt in some time going back to the Columbus days?

Bemstrom: “Yeah, a little bit. I get ice time here. I get to play a lot and use my offensive skills here more than I ever have in Columbus for the last three years. That’s been a big part (of this confidence) for me. I just have to keep it going.”

THW: And this coaching staff in particular, they’ve really given you the opportunity with top-six minutes, top power play, out at the end of the game protecting a 4-2 lead. What does that say to you that they’re trusting you and giving you this opportunity?

Bemstrom: “It feels great for me. You get confidence and encouragement and it builds like that. I think I’ve been doing that for 10 games now and I think I’ve been showing them (what I’m capable of.)”

THW: Going back to the feedback you receive from the coaches. How much does the positive reinforcement mean to you when things are going well both offensively and defensively? It seems like that is a big thing for you.

Bemstrom: “Yeah. When the coach trusts you, I think every player is getting better and more confident. You have to play your own game out there. That’s where I think I am at this point.”

THW: Did it surprise you that Columbus decided that this was the best path for you right now?

Bemstrom: “I don’t know to be honest. Obviously I want to be up there but it’s not my decision.”

THW: Did the Blue Jackets give you any feedback at all as in what they do want to see from you?

Bemstrom: “It’s what they’ve been talking about for three years now. They want to see me more offensive. I think I’m showing it right now.”

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THW: What do you feel you’ve learned about yourself personally since you’ve been here in Cleveland?

Bemstrom: “That’s a good question. That I know that I’m still a good hockey player, you know? If I trust myself and keep playing my game, I think I can take it to another level as well.”

Emil Bemstrom Columbus Blue Jackets
Emil Bemstrom says he feels he’s ready for another shot in the NHL. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

THW: Do you feel like you are ready for another opportunity in the NHL?

Bemstrom: “I do. Yeah.”

In Conclusion

Many players when sent to the AHL feel a level of disappointment when they arrive. In Bemstrom’s case, he has taken this opportunity and run with it. He’s getting to play in all important situations while finding his confidence again. He’s having fun again and it shows in his game.

Where you can especially tell where there’s fun is on the power play. The Monsters are 10/38 on the season for 26.3% conversion. Bemstrom is right in the middle of that. Here’s what he said when asked about why their power play has been so successful.

“I think we’re getting confident with each other and we’ve been playing all the games together so far. That’s (helped) building the confidence we have right now. I think we’re moving the puck pretty quick and trusting each other. That’s how we have a good power play.”

Related: Blue Jackets’ Power Play is Holding This Team Back

Everything is clicking so far with Bemstrom this season with the Monsters. This version of him is what the Blue Jackets have longed for since his arrival in North America. He’s made a strong case to get another shot in the NHL and he feels he’s ready. But until he gets the call, he and the Monsters will continue their good start to the season while he plays important minutes while having fun.

Perhaps Bemstrom’s demotion may ultimately be the thing that jump starts his NHL career. Time will tell on that front.