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Top 25U25: #8 Kieffer Bellows goes pro

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Is Kieffer Bellows more the player he was at Boston University, or is he the top goalscorer we’ve seen with the Portland Winterhawks?

Canada v United States - 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship
Isles sniper of the future?
Photo by Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images

Kieffer Bellows was the Islanders’ first round draft pick in 2016 (#19), coming off a 16 goal, 16 assist season with the USNTDP. Bellows was regarded as one of the top goalscorers in the draft, with an accurate shot and strong skating ability. He’ll dominate the opposition, and at 6’1”, 200 pounds, he’s not afraid to get into the dirty areas to take on defenders and score goals.

But then Kieffer went to Boston University, one of the top NCAA hockey programs in the country. He struggled at Boston, with only 7 goals and 14 points in 34 games, not something you want to see from a top goalscoring prospect. On top of that, he didn’t have an overly impressive World Juniors, except for his two goals in the final that helped lead the USA to victory.

Following his disappointing season at Boston, Bellows decided to leave for the WHL, joining the Portland Winterhawks. There he put up a monster 41 goal, 74 point season in 56 games. He also had 3 goals and 13 points in 12 playoff games. Those 41 regular season goals showed that Bellows has a knack for finding the net, and hope was restored for many Islanders fans. However, he did play with 2017 first-round pick Cody Glass, one of the top players in the entire WHL. According to eliteprospects.com, Bellows also had some time at center himself, which shows trust in his defensive ability and his ability to carry a line. Admittedly, I don’t know how much center he played, if much at all, but it’s important to see Bellows develop his two-way game as well.

Bellows will most likely be joining the Bridgeport Sound Tigers this season, unless he impresses right out of camp. Center depth is still pretty thin with the Sound Tigers, so it’ll be interesting to see what Bellows can bring away from elite center talent. His pro debut year will be a big one, and will give us a better idea on which version of Kieffer Bellows we can expect going forward.

Rationales:

CIL:

Bellows was the Islanders top prospect (not in the NHL) on my list prior to the 2018 draft yielding Walstrom, Dobson and Wilde. Bellows has an NHL shot, his skating is average but he's not slow. He plays with a bit of a nasty streak in him and he's not afraid to go to the scoring areas down low where you take a lot of physical abuse. The 20 year old is 6'1 200 pounds, coming off his 2nd season post draft - he scored 41 goals in 56 WHL games. That's an NHL body with an NHL shot - lots of upside. The question with Bellows is where he projects. If you think he'll be at least a 20 to 30 goal scorer with potential for more, and can handle the defensive side of the game, it's worth investing in his future. If your long term projection of Bellows is less than that, his asset value has never been higher.

Mike B:

It's likely that I have Bellows too low. He really came on last season in Portland, after all... but there's real doubt that he can crack this lineup right now, so I slid him a spot or two, since he's clearly a step behind Wahlstrom and Dobson's ceiling in my mind. Has the potential to make me look like even more of an idiot than usual. You're the best, Bellows!

Dominik:

I probably ranked him too low, and I really hope he becomes an NHL sniper, I just don't see him as sure of a thing as some of the other top prospects. His NCAA year scared me.

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