Islanders: How Does Kieffer Bellows Change the Trade Deadline Plan?
By Ryan Grosso
Islanders forward Kieffer Bellows has three points in his first two NHL games. So how does he change things for the Islanders? Pertaining to the February 24 trade deadline, and potential moves the Islanders could make before it, it could change a lot.
The New York Islanders‘ third line has been a problem in 2019-20. It’s an issue that has shoehorned Barry Trotz into shortening his bench during games all season. Enter: Kieffer Bellows. While others have tried, and failed, to inject some life into that line, Bellows has been greatly successful at it through two games. So how does this change the trade deadline plan?
Firstly, two games is obviously an inadequate sample size to know if a player can replicate performances. However, should Bellows’ early success translate into long-term consistency for he and his linemates, it becomes a realistic notion that this kid could alter the Islanders’ plans for this year and beyond.
For starters, it may mean a divergence from the plan to engage the Ottawa Senators in talks about J.G. Pageau. Pageau is a player many, including myself, have wanted the Islanders to acquire ahead of the trade deadline to fix the dilapidated third line.
Pageau seemed a perfect fit. A responsible center who can score (he has a career-high 20 goals in 2019-20) and kill penalties. With the success Bellows has seen with Derick Brassard and Michael Dal Colle, this plan may be obsoleted.
From Ottawa, defenseman Ron Hainsey may still be an option for a trade, and he’d come much cheaper than Pageau. (Many sources have Ottawa’s asking-price at a first-round pick and more for Pageau.) The Islanders could use a left-handed defenseman before the trade deadline with Adam Pelech out for the season.
Tyler Toffoli, an opponent on Thursday, is also an option I’d like to see come to Long Island. Toffoli had a pretty miserable 2018-19 season, but this year (a contract year) he’s en route to surpassing his assist and point totals, while he already bested last year’s goal total.
Toffoli would be a solid candidate for a top-six role on this Islander team. He’s played with the Kings his entire career, a team which has preached a similar defense-first style, and which is tearing things down ahead of this year’s trade deadline.
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Irregardless of who they trade for, the continued synergy of Bellows, Dal Colle, and Brassard will open up the market for Lou Lamoriello in advance of the trade deadline. It will also give the Islanders a third line worth rolling for more than eight minutes a night.