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Islanders Kieffer Bellows Hits Expansion Fork in the Road

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 26: Kieffer Bellows #20 of the New York Islanders skates against the Washington Capitals during the second period at Capital One Arena on January 26, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 26: Kieffer Bellows #20 of the New York Islanders skates against the Washington Capitals during the second period at Capital One Arena on January 26, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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The New York Islanders have a couple of tough calls to make when it comes to the last spot or two on their expansion list regarding the forwards. Kieffer Bellows has hit the expansion fork in the road.

The New York Islanders are a team who is legitimately competing for the Stanley Cup right now. They have to balance that with keeping an eye on their future when it comes to their expansion protection list.

Case Against Protecting Bellows

As stated the Isles are a team competing for the Cup. Losing a key veteran such as Jordan Eberle or Josh Bailey in the hopes that Bellows becomes a player is a risk.

Eberle and Bailey have been a contributing part to the Isles’ success these past two seasons. They have made big plays at key times in the playoffs.

If it wasn’t for the fact the Islanders had to go through one of the best teams in the NHL the last decade both of them probably would have helped the Islanders become Stanley Cup champions.

While Bellows has a number of positive attributes, Lou Lamoriello has to put his best team forward heading into next season. The Isles big picture focus must be competing for the Cup not developing a youngster like Bellows.

Case For Bellows

There is no question when the Islanders drafted Bellows in the first round (19th overall) back in 2016 by now both the organization and the fanbase figured he would be a contributing player at the NHL level.

While that has not worked out yet that doesn’t mean the Islanders or the fanbase should give up on Bellows.

Bellows just turned 23 last month and has size and skill. You can’t teach size and skill. While Bellows has not become an NHL regular he has shown flashes. Remember the game against the Devils in the regular season.

Lamoriello during the year on a Zoom call with reporters talked about how so often organizations make mistakes rushing prospects. He talked about how they are on their timeline and not yours. Doesn’t that scream Bellow’s current situation?

Consider this, Johnny Boychuk who had an excellent career in the NHL and is a Stanley Cup champion did not become a regular NHLer until he was 25. Also interesting to note after this year’s trade deadline ended, Barry Trotz pointed out how happy he was that the Islanders did not move Bellows.

Finally, the Isles’ biggest weakness in the organization is probably the number of young forwards they have on the NHL roster and throughout their prospect pipeline.

Isles & Seattle Let's Make a Deal. Next

In a perfect world, Lamoriello can find a way to keep his proven vets and not lose a youngster like Bellows. That’s where trade with Seattle could come into play.

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