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Does Kieffer Bellows Still Have a Role With the New York Islanders?

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Kieffer Bellows

When Kyle Palmieri missed significant time with a lower-body injury, New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz elected to slot 23-year old Kieffer Bellows into the lineup often.

With two goals and three assists in the first four games filling in for Palmieri, it seemed that Bellows’ game had taken strides. But in reality, it was just a hot streak for a young forward getting a chance.

Kieffer Bellows went point-less from Jan. 15 to Jan. 25 and has been a healthy scratch for the last two contests since Kyle Palmieri returned to the lineup.

If Bellows had remained hot, there was a real chance he would still be in the lineup. With how cold Bellows got, Trotz had an opening to put Kyle Palmieri in against the Los Angeles Kings, and there’s no sign that he will be out of the lineup any time soon.

On the surface, that is why Bellows has been practicing with the extras and watching the games.

But when Trotz had a late issue, with Casey Cizikas not feeling well enough to play at around 5 PM on Sunday, his first call was to Ross Johnston, a player who has not played since Jan. 13.

Johnston served as a pest against a tough Minnesota Wild team and came through with a big goal. Was this just a case of Trotz going with the more physical presence in Johnston, or was there more to it than that?

Trotz made the decision he made for a reason, and it showed that Trotz valued Johnston against a strong team over Bellows, given the matchup. Or Maybe Bellows did not answer the phone.

A question that more than likely should have been asked following the 4-3 loss to Minnesota, but was not.

Youngsters have been treated much differently than veteran forwards under Trotz. That’s not up for debate.

Although youngster Oliver Wahlstrom and Kieffer Bellows have both been held out of the lineup on occasions, Bellows more, Trotz has stated that Wahlstrom is “a big part of our future.”

Those words have never been uttered about Bellows.

Trotz indicated that they like Bellows on the left side more than the right, but Bellows has played the right side from time to time. If Trotz and co rather have him on the left, and that’s a reason for lack of ice time with Palmieri back, why was he not in when the opportunity arose for that to happen Sunday night?

Bellows came into the season as a “B” level prospect. The soon-to-be RFA had five goals and an assist in his first 22 games at the NHL level (2019-22), as he showed glimpses of an offensive touch, but an inability to stay up to the speed at the NHL level had deterred his ability to hold an everyday role.

Was his chance on the top line a way for the New York Islanders to increase his trade value? His lack of playing time as of late surely isn’t, and his play along Barzal was short-lived.

If the Islanders were buyers, Bellows would more likely be gone. Given his unproven ability to be an NHL player, Bellows would not be the key piece in a trade but could be a pot sweetener.

But because it looks like the Islanders will be sellers, it probably makes sense to hold onto the young forward and re-sign him at a low cost.

However, the Islanders are in a sell situation given their current position in the standings.

With Palmieri back in the lineup for the foreseeable future, Johnston coming off a strong showing, and Austin Czarnik having played to the level he had before his lower-body injury that landed him on IR this past Thursday, when will Kieffer Bellows get another shot?

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