Keiffer Bellows is introduced as a Portland Winterhawks. pic.twitter.com/synObbVqNw
— Molly Blue (@mollyablue) May 30, 2017
-What was speculated about over the weekend, finally became official on Tuesday in Portland. A press conference was held to show Portland’s latest addition: Kieffer Bellows. The 19th overall pick in the 2016 NHL draft by the New York Islanders will wear number 22.
Bellows left Boston University and forfeits any further NCAA eligibility by signing in the CHL with Portland.
He will likely miss some time at the start of the season, while participating in the Islanders’ training camp, though he has yet to be signed by them. Even if he is not signed before or during camp, he will still get to have more time with them then the NCAA allows for their athletes.
As Bellows signed with Portland first, there is no doubt about his AHL eligibility. He has to play either in the NHL or WHL as would any player drafted out of the WHL.
Bellows should be a shoo-in to represent the United States at the U-20 World Junior Championships, as a returning player from the team that won gold in 2017. Add up the total missed time and he could be out a total of 10-15 games.
Regardless, Bellows gives Portland an elite offensive player, who has a natural scoring touch and should be a great fit in coach Mike Johnston’s system. In his 16-year-old season with the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede, Bellows potted a USHL Tier 1 rookie record 31 goals. He was the runaway rookie of the year and led his team to the Clark Cup as USHL champions. He will be hoping to repeat those feats with Portland in the WHL.
After entering last season with Colton Veloso as their leading returning scorer (11 goals), Portland was already sitting in a much better position with the likes of Skyler McKenzie (42 goals in 16-17), Cody Glass (32 goals), Joachim Blichfeld (28 goals) and Ryan Hughes (27 goals) returning. Now they add an NHL first round pick to that group in Bellows.
After mostly sitting still at last year’s trade deadline, expect Portland to make strong push to add to their roster, now that they have likely just one season with bellows to work with. It is very likely that he will sign with New York at some point and play professionally during the 2018-19 season.
In a year, that a Western Conference championship, could very well get you into the Memorial Cup(Regina is hosting in 2018) and the Western Conference seemingly wide open, Portland picked a perfect year to add someone like Bellows and go for it.
Here’s video of him tipping home a shot in the gold medal U-20 WJC game last January, to tie it up at two. He had two goals in the game, but was stopped in the shootout by Everett’s Carter Hart. The U.S. would go on to win 5-4 in the shootout and capture gold.