The Islanders’ first-round selection from 2016 will likely be fighting for a roster spot in training camp. If he doesn’t make the team it might not be the worst thing in the world.
When looking at the Islanders roster, the top two lines and the fourth line seems to be figured out. The question marks are on line three where there are a number of forwards fighting for both wing spots.
Of those fighting for a spot, you can find Kieffer Bellows who is approaching five years since being drafted. While that may seem like a long time, he has taken the development a little on the slow side.
After being selected 19th overall, Bellows made his way to the NCAA. At Boston University he put up 14 points in 34 games in his lone season there. Instead of returning to the college game, he went to the WHL where his production exploded.
He put up 41 goals in 56 games for the Portland Winterhawks. Heading into 2018-2019, his first pro season, expectations were high. Unfortunately, Bellows struggled in his first season in the AHL.
He had just 12 goals and 19 points in 73 games. Obviously, that’s not very good but to Bellows’ credit, he took a step forward last year. In 52 games, he netted 22 goals for the Sound Tigers.
While the goal total was much better, he only had nine helpers. With just 16 assists in 125 games with the Sound Tigers, I’d argue that his playmaking could still use some more development.
Yes, I’m excited about the potential he has a goal scorer, and there are instances where you can sell me on him playing in the NHL but for the sake of Bellows’ long-term success, another year in the AHL could be good for him.
Despite Oliver Wahlstrom being two years younger, his game seems more “NHL ready” when compared to Bellows’. Which is fine, just as long as we don’t have to be subjected to Michael Dal Colle and Leo Komarov on the third line wings.
Let Kieffer Bellows go to the AHL, let’s continue that .42 goals per game rate and get those assist numbers up. I’m not asking him to be Mathew Barzal or Josh Bailey but we can’t have nearly 2.5 times more goals than assists and expect to take the next step to the NHL.
Want your voice heard? Join the Eyes On Isles team!
2021-2022 is the year we see Kieffer Bellows at the NHL full time, I’m calling it now. But don’t gloss over it, Bellows needs a very solid 2021 season in the AHL if he wants to make that a reality.