The Columbus Blue Jackets and St. Louis Blues are teams who are in very different positions to start the season. The Blue Jackets are one of the front runners for the Connor Bedard sweepstakes while the Blues look to battle for a playoff spot later into the season. One thing they do have in common though is each team has a player who has underperformed or fallen out of favor and could benefit from a change of scenery. Emil Bemstrom was recently sent down by the Blue Jackets and Logan Brown hasn’t been able to become a regular in the Blues’ lineup but is also currently injured.
Why Columbus Should Add Brown
The Blue Jackets have been battling injuries this season, which gives them something in common with Brown. He does bring one thing to the table that they’ve been missing heavily though, size. There’s currently nobody on the Blue Jackets’ roster who is the same height or taller than Brown. The 6-foot-6 center is bigger than Erik Gudbranson, Patrik Laine, and all three of the goalies currently on the roster. While being big isn’t enough to make a player stick in the NHL alone, Brown has solid defensive ability and could bolster the third-line center role in Columbus for the foreseeable future. Having Sean Kuraly on the fourth line and Brown on the third would give the team very strong depth down the middle.
An argument can certainly be made about why the Blue Jackets should look to add another center while they already have quite a few of them playing on the wing, but an organization can never have too many centers. Head coach Brad Larsen has made it clear that he doesn’t trust Kent Johnson enough to slot him in the middle. Jack Roslovic has made countless avoidable mistakes with the puck this season and, simply put, Cole Sillinger could benefit from a little less responsibility at this point in his career. Brown would give them more flexibility while being the type of player that the team is currently missing. He’s a guy who can throw the body, block shots, provide a net-front presence, defend, and occasionally chip in offensively. In general, he’s exactly what the Blue Jackets don’t have.
Why St. Louis Should Add Bemstrom
The St. Louis Blues are in the process of fighting for a playoff spot and could certainly benefit from adding another scoring winger. They’re lacking when it comes to right-handed shots on the wing and although Bemstrom hasn’t gotten many opportunities in the NHL this season, when given a chance he has shown that the talent is there. Of course, it’ll be difficult for Blues fans to see a homegrown talent such as Brown leave considering he played for the St. Louis AAA Blues back in the day, but from a strictly hockey point of view, it’s unlikely he’ll ever have a lasting impact on the organization. Bemstrom, on the other hand, looks like he’s ready to break out with a change of scenery.
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Bemstrom’s development is very similar to how Sonny Milano was treated in Columbus. He was always on the verge of breaking through into a regular NHLer but was never able to take the final step forward. Once he got out of the Blue Jackets organization, though, he flourished. Bemstrom can certainly do the same thing. Being sent down to the Cleveland Monsters on Nov. 24 was a strange turn of events, as he seemed to be playing well on his current stint. At this point, it seems as if the Blue Jackets organization simply isn’t a long-term fit for the Swedish forward.
Both players have performed well in the American Hockey League yet struggled to become a regular in the NHL. Brown has seen one prior change of scenery after being originally drafted by the Ottawa Senators. However, Bemstrom has spent his entire career to date with the Blue Jackets. He’s played a total of 124 games in the NHL over the course of four seasons while putting up a total of 40 points. Brown, on the other hand, has played only 74 games in the NHL in six seasons and has 20 points to his name through those games.
Neither will ever become a superstar in the NHL, but both have the potential to become solid role players with an organization for a very long time under the right circumstances. Escaping the pressure of his hometown team and his status as a former first-round pick can certainly help Brown in the long run. Meanwhile, Bemstrom just has to be turned loose and he can certainly surprise the league when given the chance.
William Espy is a graduate of California State University, Stanislaus. He has been writing about hockey since 2016 on various platforms. He currently covers the Columbus Blue Jackets but had a previous stint covering the Calgary Flames.