On Monday, the New York Islanders announced they had come to terms with 24-year-old restricted free agent Kieffer Bellows to a one-year deal worth $1.2 million.
Since being drafted by the New York Islanders 19th overall in the 2016 NHL Draft, Kieffer Bellows had not played to the level everyone expected over his three years of NHL action. He had the shot and the offensive ability, but it was not evident consistently, and he seemed to be a one-dimensional player.
That was until the 2021-22 season.
In 45 games played for the New York Islanders this past year, Bellows only notched six goals and 13 assists in 11:52 minutes per game. He showcased a defensive game that wasn’t evident before, as he became a strong player away from the puck.
He laid the body 103 times, and with players out of the lineup due to COVID-19 and injuries, Bellows did what he could to make the most of his playing time.
Bellows played the best hockey we had seen him play towards the end of last season with six points in his last nine games, and he is just oozing with confidence that he can be a crucial player for the New York Islanders this upcoming season.
“I mean, I view myself as being a regular in a lineup,” Bellows said Monday afternoon. “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.”
“Last year, when I was in the lineup on a regular basis, you saw that. You saw the offensive flair and you saw my good defensive reliability. So I’m expecting to bring that again this year.”
Diving into more to what Bellows did to end the season, he had two goals and four assists in 10 April contests, shooting at a 10% clip. He showed some simplicity to his game and played a more responsible one.
And that set him up to have a really positive offseason outlook.
“At the end of last season, I felt like I hit a good stride you know, when I was playing those consistent games,” Bellows said. “I really felt more comfortable every single night and you know building chemistry with guys and you know, just this offseason, just you know, training with guys and you know working with a skating coach and it’s been, it’s been a lot of work this summer.”
“Really focused on having a big year coming up. So it’s been really good. I’m excited to start the season.”
The New York Islanders did not add any weapons to their offense yet, and if the Islanders do not, they will need players like Kieffer Bellows to step up this season.
It seems he is more than ready to be more of a contributing piece, and now it’s up to him to show Lane Lambert he deserves a more prominent role this season than in years past.