It's been five years since the New York Islanders selected Kieffer Bellows in the first round of the 2016 NHL draft. That's an awfully long time to go to still be asking "what are you"? As in are you an NHL-caliber player or not?
In a contract year (Bellows's ELC expires this year), the 19th overall pick in 2016 needed to take a step up. So, did he take a step up?
Islanders 21-22 report cards: Kieffer Bellows step up
Through 45 games he put up 19 points. That's obviously not at lot, even when you pace it out. That's 35 points over a full year. But it's also while averaging 11:52 of ice time. He's averaging just about 50 seconds more than last year when he scored three points (all goals) in 14 games.
That's a doubling of his production per game. from last year. Bellows took a step up offensively this year. It wasn't enough to merit an A grade but a B- seems pretty fair considering the amount of production he put up considering his role.
I'm using relative xGA/60 at 5on5 to measure how good (or not) a specific player was defensively. This measures how many goals against that player cost his team relative to the rest of the squad. Bellows ranks sixth for forwards (fifth if you take out that one game by Michael Dal Colle) with a +0.18.
That's not a glowing performance but it's fine considering that Bellows wasn't counted on for his D-play. His deployment was 58-42 in favor of defense. So a D is a fair grade for him considering he was one of the lower tier guys relative to the rest of his teammates in terms of defense.
Impact vs Reliance: B
We know he averaged under 12 minutes of total ice time, 11:51 to be precise. That average ice time is 14th for forwards. So his reliance is quite low. His impact, by looking at his average game score, which was 0.27, is 10th for forwards.
Bellows's impact was clearly greater than his reliance. Which bodes well for him. That's what the Islanders wanted to see and what Kieffer wanted to prove; that he could be better than we've seen.
So he's not going to get an outstanding grade here but I think he deserves something high enough to recognize that growth in his game this year. So B, I think, seems fair.
Final Grade: C
A C is a fine grade for Kieffer Bellows considering where he was going into the season. He had 22 games over two season with six points (five of them were goals). Bellows was a fringe player on the roster and it didn't seem like he could step up. This year it seems like, finally, he's taken that step up.