Islanders first-round draft choice Kieffer Bellows was in good spirits today as he took the ice for the first day of the team’s prospect camp at the Northwell Health Ice Center at Eisenhower Park.
“On a scale of 1-10 it was a 10,” Bellows said after practice. “Going out there, wearing some Islander gear and having that Islander crest across your sweater was cool. I’m very happy to be here.”
Bellows looked very comfortable on the ice and demonstrated bursts of speed and a heavy shot during drills.
When asked about what he brought to the table, Bellows explained, “I bring a big element, a love to shoot the puck I love to score goals, I’m not afraid to be physical. I’m a guy that plays a 200-foot game. I’m not afraid to go to the front of the net. Wherever the goals are, I’ll go.”
Last year, those skills helped Bellows score 50 goals and 81 points in 62 games with the U.S. Under-18 Team based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. By scoring 50 goals, he became only the fourth player to reach that plateau with the U.S. Developmental Team, joining Auston Matthews, Phil Kessel and Patrick Kane. He also proved he could play a well-rounded game in all three zones.
That game won’t be in Brooklyn this fall as Bellows is committed to playing at Boston University and expects to stay there for “one or two years” before joining the NHL.
Right now, he’s adjusting to the pace of an NHL camp. “It’s a little different, guys are a little bigger, faster and stronger but that’s exciting about the league right now,” Bellows said when asked about the difference between playing in juniors and an NHL prospects camp.
Bellows also knows what he needs to do to reach the next level. “I need to get bigger, faster and stronger,” Bellows admitted. “Your game can improve in all areas. That’s why the guys in the NHL are so good like John Tavares and Kyle Okposo and Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby. That’s why they’re so good because they’re just all around improving their games all the time.”
Bellows is from Edina, Minnesota, the same home town as Islanders forward Anders Lee. “I’ve watched him (Lee) growing up my whole entire life,” Bellows admitted. “I’ve watched him from high school to college and all the way to the pros.” He hopes to follow in Lee’s footsteps with the Islanders.
Bellows has a distinct advantage because his father Brian played nearly 1,200 NHL games during his distinguished career. But the most significant bit of advice the elder gave his son may have been the most basic. “The best advice he’s given me is just be yourself,”Kieffer said. “If you’re being yourself, you’re good.”
The Islanders can’t wait to see just how good Bellows can be.