After an incredible rookie year in the USHL with the Sioux Falls Stampede of the USHL, Bellows made the move to the US National Team Development Program. He was quickly paired on a line with dynamic center Clayton Keller, and the two found instant chemistry.. With Keller as the set-up man, and Bellows the finisher, the two proceeded to leave their mark on the NTDP record books. Bellows become just the fourth player in NTDP history to reach the 50-goal mark in a single season, joining Auston Matthews, Patrick Kane, and Phil Kessel. That incredibly season has Bellows to be selected in the top half of this year's first round of the NHL Draft.
Player: Kieffer Bellows
Team: US NTDP U18
Position: Left Wing
Height: 6'0" Weight: 196 lbs.
Stats: 62 games, 50 goals, 31 assists, 81 points
Final NHL Central Scouting rank: 10th among North American skaters
What I Like:
Outside of second overall pick Patrik Laine, there isn't a better pure shooter available in this Draft than Bellows. He's got a great shot, and more importantly, he's got a sniper's mentality. He's looking for an opportunity to shoot any time he touches the puck, and every time he shoots it, he's shooting to score, not just shooting it to shoot it.
-Extremely quick release
Bellows can get his shot off quickly and accurately too. In this first clip, Bellows is skating full speed and is still able to get off a quick, accurate shot to the upper corner for a goal
This next one isn't even fair. The puck is in the back of the net before Filip Gustavsson, highest-rated goalie in this Draft, even has a chance to move.
Bellows isn't afraid to back down from anyone. There's a little nastiness to his game. He's a hard competitor that is tough to play against.
What I Don't Like:
If you played YMCA basketball with Bellows, he'd be the chucker. In one game I watched him play this year, he touched the puck 12 times in the offensive zone and attempted a shot on 11 of them, including one from behind the net where he tried to flip the puck over and off the back of the goalie. There's certainly something good to be said for that, especially with a player that shoots it as well as he does. But at the same time, with puck possession so valued in the NHL, the propensity to waste it on low-percentage shots might not always be viewed as a positive.
In addition, that means he sometimes settles for long shots from the perimeter that just aren't going to be effective against NHL goalies, rather than looking to make a pass and maintain possession for a better opportunity.
The one thing holding Bellows back from being a true top-10 guy in this Draft is that he's an average skater at best. He's got heavy feet that limit his quickness. He needs to be on a line with a player that can create space and opportunities for him like a Clayton Keller because he's not going to create a lot of space for himself.
There's a fairly narrow range within which Bellows is likely to be picked. He's definitely in the consensus top 18 players available, but probably doesn't have the complete, overall game to go inside the top 10 of the Draft. I'm reasonably confident Bellows will be picked somewhere between 14th and 18th overall.
Bellows is a pure goal-scoring sniper. He has potential to be a top line wing that scores a lot of goals if he's set up with the right linemates.
Bellows is headed to Boston University next season, but not with the intent of staying there long. It will be his fourth team in as many years, and if he has a successful season, could be moving on to his fifth the following year. He might be the rare player able to take advantage of the fact that non-CHL players can play in the AHL at 19 years old. Either way, expect Bellows to be competing for an NHL roster spot sooner rather than later.