Kieffer Bellows signed a one year, $1.2 million contract this summer to remain with the NY Islanders, a contract that pretty much is asking the 24-year-old forward to show them a reason to keep him around after this year. With Oliver Wahlstrom still unavailable in Saturday's final preseason game, Bellows was penciled into the lineup on the Islanders third line to the left of J.G. Pageau. In the Isles 3-1 victory, the former first round draft pick put on a strong performance.
After signing his very short term extension, Bellows eplained he knew what he needed to do in order to become a regular in the Islanders lineup:
"I mean, I view myself as being a regular in a lineup. That’s what I want to be. I want to be making a big impact from day one. That’s what I plan to do. I plan to be good defensively but also be a big offensive player, use my shot, score some goals for this team."- Kieffer Bellows
In the last game before the regular season, Bellows began to show he can do just that. It wasn't long before he made his presence known in the first period, throwing a hit on NY Rangers Vincent Trochek along the boards in the first period. It put him in the position to then drive to the slot where he received a pass from defenseman Sebastian Aho and tapped the puck past Igor Shesterkin to give the Islanders a 1-0 lead.
He didn't find the scoresheet after opening the scoring, however, he finished the night with six shot attempts and played a physical game throwing three hits, something Bellows stated he wanted to do before Saturday nights game:
"I just want to bring that power forward mindset, that power forward game where I'm physical, I'm shooting pucks and I'm making plays. I want to go out there and be hard to play against in all zones. I want to be a burden to play against."- Kieffer Bellows
Rosters need to be finalized by 2 PM on Monday, but Bellows' spot on the team feels secure, even if it's just as the 13th forward. Strong performances like Saturday nights, however, could force head coach Lane Lambert to keep him in the lineup more often. Last season, Bellows posted a career best six goals and 19 points in 45 games played. In 2022-23, Bellows is looking to solidify a role as an everyday player on the Islanders who always have a need for scoring more goals and if Bellows does claim an everyday role, it will be the goal scoring that gets him there.