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Islanders Kieffer Bellows Isn’t the Only 2016 First Rounder Struggling

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 20: Kieffer Bellows #20 of the New York Islanders celebrates his powerplay goal at 19:19 of the first period against the New Jersey Devils during a preseason game at the Barclays Center on September 20, 2018 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 20: Kieffer Bellows #20 of the New York Islanders celebrates his powerplay goal at 19:19 of the first period against the New Jersey Devils during a preseason game at the Barclays Center on September 20, 2018 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Islanders 2016 first-round pick, Kieffer Bellows is struggling to crack the NHL. He isn’t the only first-round pick in 2016 to have the same struggle.

In 16 AHL games this season, Kieffer Bellows has three points. That puts the Islanders first-round pick from 2016 on pace for a 14 point season. Five fewer points than last season, his first in the AHL. Things aren’t going too well for Bellows at the moment.

That hasn’t always been the case. In 2017-18, two seasons after being taken 19th overall in 2016, Bellows made the switch from Boston University of the NCAA to the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL. He went from scoring 14 points in 34 games with B.U. to 41 goals and 73 points with the Winterhawks.

His stock was as high as it could be after the 2017-18 season.  So Bellows went pro and was sent to the Islanders AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. But since joining the AHL things haven’t gone as well as they did in the WHL. And his stock has since fallen.

Are the Islanders the only ones to have their first-round pick from 2016 struggle to reach the NHL three years after being selected?

Not The Only One Struggling to Make NHL

There’s no question it isn’t going too well this season for Bellows. But looking at the 2016 draft, the Islanders aren’t the only ones to be in the same boat with their first-rounder.

There are another four players that have yet to play a single NHL game to date. That list includes: Olli Juolevi (D), 5th overall (VAN): five points in 13 AHL games, Logan Stanley (D),18th overall (WPG): two points in five AHL games, Riley Tufte (LW), 25th overall (DAL): two points in 13 AHL games, Lucas Johansen (D), 30th overall (WAS): one point in six AHL games.

Some players might have a number of games played in the NHL but find themselves in the AHL this season. Florida’s Henrick Borgstrom (23rd overall) has 58 NHL games to his name but is currently in the AHL. The same goes for New Jersey Devils Michael McLeod (12th overall) who’s in the AHL.

Good Trends

Since putting up his third point of the 2019-20 season, Bellows is on an eleven game pointless streak. A streak that isn’t getting him any closer to the NHL. Bellows stock is falling and falling fast.

With other Islanders first-round picks like Oliver Wahlstrom and Simon Holmstrom having an impact in the AHL, Bellows is falling down the Isles prospect depth chart. Even a player like Arnaud Durandeau, drafted in the sixth round of the 2017 draft is catching up.

Durandeau signed a three-year ELC this offseason after a 73 point season with the Halifax Moosehead of the QMJHL. In six AHL games this year he has three points.

An encouraging sign for Bellows is how often he’s getting the net towards the net lately. Over his last three games, Bellows has registered eleven shots on goal.

At some point, the dam is going to break on his pointless streak. The best way to break that dam sooner is getting back to your game, do the simple things right. For a shooter like Kieffer Bellows, that’s getting the puck on net.

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Bellows isn’t on the track we thought he would be at this point in his career. The Islanders aren’t the only team in that boat with their 2016 first-round pick. But it’s far from over. The 2019-20 season is far from over. Bellows can still turn it around in the AHL and make the show.

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