The Columbus Blue Jackets start their season tonight, but they won’t have Emil Bemstrom on the ice for a while yet. The team announced that the young forward has been placed on injured reserve with a left oblique strain and is expected to miss four to six weeks. Bemstrom suffered the injury at practice on Tuesday.
The 22-year-old forward wasn’t expected to be a key player for the Blue Jackets early this season anyway, but his absence only weakens the depth of a team that already has a very uncertain offensive attack. There is without a doubt talent on the Columbus roster, but how it comes together for a full regular season remains to be seen.
Bemstrom, a fourth-round pick from 2017, saw his stock skyrocket in 2018-19 when he put up 23 goals and 35 points in 47 games as a rookie in the SHL, and when he arrived in North America things seemed right on track. In his first NHL season he scored ten goals and 20 points in 56 games, but managed just five points in 2020-21. With Cole Sillinger playing his way onto the team in training camp, there likely wasn’t room on the opening day lineup for Bemstrom anyway.
The question now becomes how he fights his way onto that lineup in the future. A six-week absence will certainly not help his case, though there will obviously be other injuries throughout the year. Interestingly, Bemstrom is still waiver-exempt, meaning that when he comes back he would not be limited to a minor league conditioning stint, but could get up to full speed with a longer stretch with the Cleveland Monsters.