NY Islanders Kieffer Bellows has to shine when opportunity knocks
The New York Islanders Kieffer Bellows has to understand when Lane Lambert puts him in the lineup as he did in the Isles opener, he has to shine. When opportunity knocks for Bellows, he has to take advantage of it.
WINDOW IS CLOSING
It may seem unfair, but when the roster is healthy, Bellows is on the outside looking in, and it's likely to remain that way if Oliver Wahlstrom takes strides as he did on Saturday night. So when he gets the nod, Bellows has to play at a level where he leaves an impression with Lambert and Lou Lamoriello and shows that he consistently be the type of player he talked about prior to the start of pre-season.
"I plan to be good defensively but bring a big offensive flair. Use my shot and score some goals for this team. “I expect myself to have a good year. Last year when I was in the lineup on a regular basis, you saw the offensive flair and you saw my defensive reliability and I expect to bring that again this year."- Bellows after signing his 1 year deal
Bellows, at 6'1 and 185 lbs, has size and skill, but other than flashes here and there, he has not put it all together. To deserve the regular tag he spoke about during the off-season, he has to be better than he was during the Isles' opening game versus the Florida Panthers. On Thursday night, in a little over 7 minutes of ice time, he finished with a minus-one and not impacting the score sheet.
Bellows' play without the puck will be the key to how many chances he gets this season in terms of being in the lineup. Bellows is just 24, and you can't teach size and skill. Having said that, as of now, the 19th overall pick of the 2016 Draft has been a disappointment.
The other problem Bellows has is the Isles have a numbers problem in terms of depth, which one would say is a good problem to have. The Isles have 15 forwards in the fold currently although Cal Clutterbuck is currently on injured reserve. Bellows is one of the Isle's extra forwards, along with Ross Johnston and Nikita Soshnikov.
When Sebastian Aho gets activated from injured reserve, the Isles will have to make a move and clear someone from their active roster. While less likely than other options, it could be Bellows the team attempts to send down to Bridgeport. If Lamoriello wants to make such a move, Bellows would have to clear waivers.
Bellows could slide through waivers given that so few teams have cap space (they would also have to clear out a spot for Bellows as well). Having said that, as stated above, given Bellows' youth, size, skill, and cap hit (only $1.2 Million & only signed for this season), if he were to clear waivers, that would be an indictment on him. Keep in mind Lamoriello did not draft Bellows; Garth Snow was the General Manager at that time. So Lamoriello is not married to Bellows.
Assuming Bellows gets another chance soon, he needs to make sure he plays a two-way game and is impactful. Otherwise, ice time might prove hard to find. Bellows had hoped this would be the year he established himself as a regular. To do so, he has to be noticeable when given limited opportunities.