Drafted as the 19th overall pick in the first round of the 2016 NHL Draft, New York Islanders’ prospect Kieffer Bellows has the tools to become a future superstar for years to come. The Edina, Minnesota native is known for his goal scoring ability, as well as the physical presence he brings to the ice. The 19-year old phenom signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Islanders and is currently playing for the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks.
In order to play for the Winterhawks, Bellows had to forgo his last three years of eligibility at Boston University. Bellows was known throughout the league as a big-time prospect since being drafted. However, after his nine-goal performance in the 2018 World Junior Hockey Championships, he has made a name for himself that has reached every NHL organization in North America.
Following his Father’s Footsteps
Some of you may recognize the name Bellows being in the league at one point in the past. You would be right. Kieffer’s father, Brian Bellows, was the 1982 second-overall pick of the Minnesota North Stars. Brian enjoyed an impressive 17-year career, where he recorded 485 goals and is a member of the illustrious 1,000 point club (1,022). Kieffer’s father was also a three-time NHL All-Star and a member of the 1993 Montreal Canadiens Stanley Cup championship team. In addition to the North Stars and the Canadiens, Bellows played for three more teams – the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, and the Washington Capitals.
— Kieffer Bellows (@BellowsKieffer) June 25, 2016
When his son was drafted by the Islanders in 2016, Brian Bellows was interviewed by NHL.com‘s Darren Dreger. He was asked about what type of player the Islanders were getting. “The Islanders are getting a great young man,” Bellows replied. Bellows also described how he felt about the team that drafted him. “He actually went to one of the couple of teams I really wanted him to go to. I just finished watching a playoff game in Brooklyn for the first time and I was taken back to what was a great atmosphere.”
Kieffer Bellows – The Journey
Bellows got his first opportunity playing in the United States Hockey League (USHL) for the Sioux Falls Stampede. Bellows would be following the footsteps of some notable NHL players. Names like Thomas Vanek and T.J. Oshie started their professional paths by playing for Sioux. It took no time at all for Bellows to settle in, as he scored a whopping 33 goals in 58 games in the Stampede’s 2014-15 season. Bellows also recorded 19 assists. This made it a total of 52 points for the year – nearly one per game. This got the attention of plenty of scouts, both collegiate and professional.
Later that year, Bellows received the opportunity to play for the U18 U.S National team. Once again, Bellows stood out and demonstrated his offensive skill set with 16 goals and 16 assists in only 23 games. After showcasing his NHL-caliber ability in both the USHL and the U18 U.S National team, Bellows committed to Boston University to play college hockey. However, Bellows only played one year at BU. He opted to play in the WHL after being drafted in the first round by the New York Islanders. The WHL offered more opportunity for the Islander prospect to stand out and be prepared for his journey to the National Hockey League.
The World Junior Hockey Championships
For the last two years, Bellows has played for the United States U20 World Junior Hockey national team. The World Junior Hockey tournament consists of the best NHL prospects in the world. Almost every big NHL name you can think of has played in this tournament, from Sidney Crosby and John Tavares to Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews. His first experience in 2017 didn’t start off well, though. In his first six games, Bellows failed to score a goal.
However, in the gold medal game against Canada, it was a different story. Bellows ended up scoring two goals to lead the United States to its first gold since 2013. The following year in the 2018 WJC, Bellows’ talent was on display for the duration of the tournament. He scored an American-record nine goals. It was also the most goals scored by a player in the entire tournament.
Kieffer Bellows sets a new USA record with 9 goals in a single WJC tournament pic.twitter.com/FVcbbLVHWU
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) January 5, 2018
The Next Step
After completing two years of junior hockey play, Bellows is ready for the next step in his professional hockey career. Halfway through his first season in the WHL for the Portland Winterhawks, Bellows has continued to show his offensive production. Through only 31 games played, Bellows has 19 goals. He also has 21 assists, adding it to a total 40 points for the season. Averaging over a point a game in the WHL, it may soon be the time to finally enter ‘the show’ in October.
Kieffer Bellows has all the makings to be an elite scorer. He has a great shot, and a physical presence that will belong in the NHL. More importantly, Bellows has his father to lean on for any advice on what’s to come his way. All the hard work is about to pay off for the young 19-year old. It’s only a matter of time for the world to witness what he can bring to the National Hockey League. The New York Islanders are lucky to have him.