Graziano: Kieffer Bellows Might Be Only Deadline Addition Islanders Need

The Boston University Product Is Thriving For Barry Trotz

Andy Graziano
February 07, 2020 - 3:33 pm

There has been a lot of talk around what the New York Islanders and president/general manager Lou Lamoriello might do with the trade deadline approaching on Monday, February 24.

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New York has a need for more scoring, something Barry Trotz has been asking for since the end of last season, and a third-line center who can come in and stabilize an inconsistent effort from an important part of the bottom-six. There could even be an argument made that a depth defenseman would be a smart choice, given the current six have struggled in the wake of Adam Pelech’s season-ending injury.

The market seems to be slim pickings, at least from what we hear currently of who is available, as players like Jean-Gabriel Pageau is buyer-beware (for the price he will likely command) and guys like Chris Kreider are off-limits due to the team they currently play for. So, Lamoriello consulted Trotz and the two did the next best thing to date – he called up Kieffer Bellows.

With Oliver Wahlstrom struggling to get his footing in Bridgeport with the Sound Tigers (5-9-14 in 30 games) and already having used his nine-game tryout plus Bellows on a goal scoring tear, the time was right to give the 2016 first-round pick a look. The Islanders like to be patient (sometimes agonizingly so) with their draft picks, so excuse the fanbase if this move was met with a bit of indifference.

Trotz commented on the move to Brian Heyman in Newsday: “We’re looking to see where we might go. We’re getting closer to the deadline. We’re looking for a goal here, a goal there. So, we brought him in. Take a look at him.”

Bellows described himself as a physical player. “[I’m] a power forward. I’m physical. I like to shoot the puck. I get in the dirty areas. And I just have a knack for finding the net.” All those traits have been on display over his first two National Hockey League games.

Kieffer Bellows of the Islanders celebrates his first NHL goal against the Los Angeles Kings at 10:22 of the second period and is joined by Nick Leddy and Anthony Beauvillier at the Barclays Center on February 06, 2020.
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Bellows’ inspired play could not have come at a better time with the Islanders still struggling with inconsistent results since their record setting streak of 16 wins in 20 games to open the season. They are just 15-12-5 since, and sit 22nd in goals with a paltry 152, just ahead of the Ottawa Senators and Columbus Blue Jackets. However, they are still showing spunk and that ‘never say die’ attitude that is Trotz’s mandate.

After losing six of eight, including two to the rival New York Rangers, the Islanders have responded with wins over the Dallas Stars, in which they trailed 3-2 late into the third period, and Los Angeles Kings, a game they trailed 2-0 after one period. Bellows was a factor in both contests.

Getting 13 shifts in nine minutes and ten seconds in game one, he assisted on Derick Brassard’s second-period goal, not even knowing until post-game when informed by Andrew Gross in the media scrum. On Thursday night, he was much more impactful. His hustle and willingness to get involved were much more evident, and he showcased a little dangling skill and a hard, heavy shot.

Bellows’ first goal was the product of good positioning and instincts to not pull away from the play. Instead, he buried himself to the right of goaltender Jonathan Quick and converted a nice dish from Anthony Beauvillier.

His second strike showcased more heady hockey sense when he picked up a loose puck in the corner off a Brassard forced turnover and, with Quick out of his cage, fired from a deep angle into the vacated goal for the game winner. Talk about making the most of your 17 shifts totaling 11 minutes and 16 seconds.

Due to his somewhat limited knowledge of the Islanders defensive structure at the moment, Bellows never got a chance to see the ice with the Stars goaltender pulled for an extra attacker and two minutes left on the clock. Under Trotz, its always team-first, player second, and this would be no exception.

"It was a pretty special moment," Bellows said of his first goal. "I was pretty speechless at the time, I didn't really know what to do, but once I got back to the bench, it was move on, forget about it and focus on the next shift."

"Coming into this game I felt a little bit more relaxed, more patient on the ice with my decision making and all my shooting and everything," Bellows continued. "I had confidence tonight, but it's confidence that's built off of my teammates here, and my line mates and the support they've given me and the coaching staff."

Confidence. Support. Goals. If Bellows continues to give the Islanders exactly what they require, the need for a trade deadline pickup might have already happened.

You can follow Andy on Twitter: @AndyGraz_WFAN