The World Juniors is showcasing a New York Islanders prospect that can help finalizing a productive third line in 2018.
Watching the World Juniors is always enjoyable, but when there is a New York Islanders prospect to look for it makes the watching experience that much better. This year the Islanders have three prospects in the tournament.
The one we are going to focus on today is Kieffer Bellows. Bellows is currently playing for Team USA and you can catch him in action taking on Team Canada at 3:00 pm on the NHL Network.
Kieffer Bellows is a force to be reckoned with while playing in these Junior Tournaments. In 16 career games in the tournament, he has 13 points (9 goals, 4 assists). Not only has he displayed scoring ability on the Juniors stage but also at the WHL level this year.
In his first year playing with the Portland Winterhawks, the 19-year old has 40 points (19 goals, 21 assists) in 31 games. He had a pretty lofty goal of making it to the NHL for the 2018-2019 season, but with his play, it’s hard to argue against it.
I’ve been high on Bellows since they’ve drafted him. Here’s a scouting report on Bellows courtesy of Elite Prospects:
"Kieffer Bellows is a skilled power forward who can dominate games. Possesses high end puckhandling ability as well as a crisp, accurate release on his shot. Proficient forechecker and loves to win puck battles, which stands out as a consistent part of his game. Strong skater who can bull through the opposition or go around them. Drives the net hard and is a decisive finisher. All-in-all, a competitor who punishes the opposition physically, as well as on the scoreboard."
I would love to see Bellows on the ice for the Islanders in 2018-2019. I think he can fit perfectly on the third line. If you missed the latest Eyes on Isles podcast we spoke briefly on the possibility of a Bellows – Beauvillier – Ho-Sang third line in 2018 and honestly, I fell in love with the idea.
Bellows would play the Anders Lee role of going to the front of the net and causing problems, Beau would be the two-way center who has more of the defensive responsibility, and Ho-Sang would be the playmaker on the line.
To me, that has the solid foundation of a third line. But then there’s the issue of what do the Islanders do with pending RFA Brock Nelson to create this impressive third line that only costs $2.68 million against the cap in 2018-2019.
Here’s my idea for the Islanders to free themselves of Brock Nelson:
This trade can happen in the offseason, before the draft of course. The Hurricanes would get Brock Nelson who can replace Derek Ryan as the Canes third line center, they get Michael Dal Colle who maybe just needs a change of scenery to get going and one of the two Isles second-round selections.
The Islanders will receive a top-four defenseman in the deal. Justin Faulk is a solid second pairing defenseman with a right-handed shot. At just 25 years old, he is signed at $4.83 million over the next two years.
After a near 50 point season in 2014-2015, Faulk is coming off back to back 37 point seasons. Faulk is a bit of a scoring threat from the blue line as he put up a career high in goals last year with 17. For you possession guys out there Faulk hasn’t had a CF% under 50 since 2012-2013.
This year he currently has a 54.5 CF% which is higher than Boychuk’s who leads the Islanders defensive core with a 50.4 CF%.
For Carolina, clearing Faulk can give prospects Jake Bean (13th overall pick 2016) and Hayden Fleury (7th overall pick 2014) a shot at the NHL level.
But can the Islanders afford to add an almost $5 million cap hit with the Tavares contract looming? They absolutely can. Let’s break it down:
Total Cap Hit: $43,645,833
Total Cap Hit: $19,703,333
Total Cap Hit: $4,136,666
Cumulative Cap Hit: $67,485,832
The NHL cap is supposed to increase from $75 million to between $78 and $82 million. That leaves the Islanders with roughly $12-$15 million to play with to fill out the roster and/or make improvements.
My model leaves out Calvin de Haan, so maybe you use that money to bring de Haan or even Thomas Hickey back if they want to in order to round out the defensive core. With the salary cap increase happening for next year the Islanders should use the opportunity to really go for it and make themselves a contender.
A cheap, but effective third line allows the Islanders to improve other areas like defense and maybe goaltending if they want to.
A player like Brock Nelson will be due a raise, and frankly, they can find a more effective player for a lot cheaper. So, make sure to watch the Islanders future third line left wing today at 3:00 pm, this kid is a gamer and something special.