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Kieffer Bellows is a Philadelphia Flyer

Lou has decreed, you’re not the best, Bellows.

New York Islanders v Philadelphia Flyers’re coming with us.
Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images

The Philadelphia Flyers have claimed Kieffer Bellows off of waivers, ending the winger’s tenure with the New York Islanders, who selected him 19th overall in the first round of the 2016 NHL Draft.

The Flyers have injury issues so he may get his best look yet under...oh...under John Tortorella. They don’t seem like a match, but maybe Tortorella lights the proverbial fire.

So for the Flyers, this is a classic case of “What do we have to lose?” while for the Islanders, it’s a classic, “Yeah but we’ve got Ross Johnston and Nikita Soshnikov.”

Therein, really, lies the rationale.

Bellows was in a mix of extra wingers to start the season, and it seemed he was never going to stick unless he firmly grabbed a role that probably wasn’t there for him. If it’s “guy who sits for weeks at a time before gratefully filing in” then they already have that, in their eyes, in Johnston and Soshnikov. And they already put their periodic scratch-scare into Oliver Wahlstrom, who’s long projected as the more offensively dangerous winger.

They probably figured either give Bellows yet more time and reps in the AHL to evolve into something else, or let him move on. There are a couple other offensive prospects percolating in Bridgeport (and we look forward to their waiving in 2026) who would probably be sooner callups if injuries burned through the Johnston-Soshnikov reserve.

Bellows was not quite a no-brainer re-signing this past summer — the Lou Lamoriello regime never sounded all that confident nor hopeful in him — and despite coming to camp with intent to be physical and become a regular, the things that kept the shooting winger from being entrusted with upper lineup minutes in the past persisted. (We assume. He only appeared in the season-opening game of 2022-23.)

A 19th-overall pick not panning out isn’t too extraordinary, especially for the Islanders, but it is an organizational failure. Fan blame will likely be mixed between the old drafting regime with its list of wingers who never stuck and the new regime’s development approach.

Because we are obliged to view things through the carwreck lens, we note that of the first 21 picks in 2016, Bellows has the least NHL games played. [Insert classic “never given a chance” vs. “never earned it” debate.] He does have some company in a couple of early picks that year that have yet to find a spot or have even changed teams, 11th-overall pick Logan Brown most glaring among them.

But a fresh start is probably for the best, Bellows.

His Islanders career concludes — assuming he’s not claimed back when the Flyers are healthy and reach a similar conclusion — with 68 total games, 11 goals, 14 assists for 25 points.

Here though, remember the good times: