With Josh Bailey out of the lineup last night, Barry Trotz elected to insert Kieffer Bellows back into the lineup for the Islanders. Before the game, Trotz showed confidence in the youngster saying he's probably ready to transfer to a full-time role.
Well, Bellows didn't disappoint in his first game back into the lineup. It was one of his better performances as an Islander.
On the evening he finished with a primary assist, five shots, five hits, a blocked shot, and 14:53 in time on ice. All in all, it was a really good showing from Bellows who seemed to be in great spirits after the game.
""Hearing that gives me confidence… just play hard for these guys. That’s the goal: Play my game and hopefully it sticks.”"
In 21 games this year, Bellows now has 10 points (3 goals, 7 assists). Barry is right, he has to stay in the lineup as he proved a nice physical presence with a depth scoring touch. He projects perfectly in the Islanders middle-six at the moment.
That likely means trading away Zach Parise, which in a lost season is the right move no matter how much you may like the guy. Bellows can't come out of the lineup when Bailey returns. You can make the case that he's been the better player this year and he has to be rewarded for it.
In the coming weeks, Cal Clutterbuck and Zach Parise are probably likely to be on the move. Once that happens, it's up to Barry to come up with the lineup that best fits for the future. Ideally, an Oliver Wahlstrom promotion would be nice but as for Kieffer Bellows a regular middle-six role seems to be in order for him.
He's due a new contract after the season and likely won't be super costly. If the Islanders are able to get a cheap player like Bellows as a regular contributor than it will do wonders for building out the top end of the roster and allowing you to spend more in free agency or a trade for a top line player.
It's been a long climb for Bellows but I think he finally has his role.