MONTREAL, QC. — The Montreal Canadiens inched up four spots in ‘goals for’ in 2015-16 from the previous year giving them with the 16th highest total. The team’s powerplay remained stagnant preserving their 25th ranking over the past pair of years with just a 0.2 percent increase in efficiency this past season.
The Canadiens grabbed the ninth spot in the league when it came to shots on goal, with an average of 30.5 per game. Only the Toronto Maple Leafs had a lower shot percentage among teams in the top ten. Montreal, perceived, and justifiably so, as struggling offensively is, once again, in line for an offseason upgrade, with an opportunity to begin the process on June 24th.
Kieffer Bellows, C, US NTDP (USHL)
6-1, 195 lbs., Shoots L, United States | @bellowskieffer
2015-’16: 62 GP, 50 G, 31 A, 81 PTS (U.S. National U18 Team)
CSB: No. 10 | ISS: No. 17 | THN: No. 20 | HP: No. 22 | FC: No. 17
There are multiple pure goal scorers in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft, but there are few, like Kieffer Bellows, who combines physicality, goal scoring ability and intelligence. As a 16-year old and member of the Sioux Falls Stampede in 2014-15, Bellows won U.S.H.L. rookie of the year while setting a Tier 1 era record for his age with 33 goals in 58 games, eclipsing the previous record of 28. Bellows also led the Stampede to a championship with nine goals and 12 points in the same number of games.
With two championships in a pair of years, the first coming as a member of Edina High School in 2013-14, Bellows accomplished about as much as he could at a young age, including breaking the 50 goal plateau as a member of the U.S. National Team Development Program. This past year, while playing on a magical line alongside fellow projected first-round pick Clayton Keller, Bellows found the back of the net 50 times in 62 games, and came second on the team in points, with 81, second only to Keller.
Bellows has one of the best shots in the first-round, in all manifestations. He has a fantastic wrist shot, with a release so quick it can be sometimes mistaken for his primary weapon of choice, the snapshot. The 6-foot-1-inch left winger isn’t afraid to shoot the puck from any area of the ice, with the intelligence to adjust his aim based on the situation. Bellows has a tremendously quick release and a heavy shot to supplement its accuracy.
The Edina, Minnesota native has a goal scorer’s sense, with the ability to expose soft spots in the opposing team’s defensive alignment. Bellows’ release serves him well having a particular ability to scores goals in-tight. He one of the draft’s most adept stick handlers and has soft hands in front of the net.
When coming out of the corners, Bellows can make moves from the goal line and put the puck top-shelf from the goal mouth. When in the offensive zone, the winger is constantly moving around trying to find holes in the defense and putting himself in good spots to receive the puck and utilize his outstanding shot. He has the intelligence to choose between setting up on the half wall or driving the goal.
Bellows, ranked as low as the 23rd overall pick and as high as 10th, also has a nose for the net, as is evidenced by his 50 goal campaign. The Minnesotan has the propensity to drive the goal when the puck isn’t on his stick, creating lanes for his teammates by drawing defenceman in with him. Also, he fearlessly screens the goaltender when the shot is coming rather than backing away in an attempt to deflect the puck with his stick.
The 17-year old is drawn to the front of the net on the powerplay and is adept at changing his position based on the puck’s position and the situation. The NTDP constantly sets up double screens on the powerplay. It’s my preference being that Bellows sets up more in the high slot when the puck is on the left side, and a right handed shot switch with him when the puck’s on the right side. This allows for Bellows to unleash his shot, and also stay on the perimeter of the blue paint where he has had so much success.
— Kieffer Bellows (@BellowsKieffer) February 21, 2016
Although not to the level of his teammate Clayton Keller, an extremely high measuring stick, the son of former Canadiens Stanley Cup Champion winner Brian Bellows’ acceleration is the strongest portion of his skating. He has breakaway speed when he kicks it into the next gear and acknowledges that there’s a scoring opportunity. He uses his strong frame to compliment his above average skating ability and power through the opposition.
One of the most appetizing portions of the power forward’s game is his physicality. He finishes every check he has the opportunity to finish yet isn’t a reckless hitter. That being said, when he does make contact, the result is catastrophic for whoever the other player might be. Bellows has great balance so when receiving a hit the unremitting forward isn’t jarred or taken out of the play. His ability to shield the puck down low, and come out of corners with possession is second-to-none in this draft class.
As is common throughout the U.S. NTDP, Bellows’ defensive game isn’t a culpability. He works incredibly hard to get back into the play on the back-check and prevent a scoring chance. The dual citizen, who plays on the team’s first penalty kill unit, has above average stick-checking ability, and despite playing on the wing the majority of the time, is proactive in shutting down offensive chances.
In addition to all the attributes delineated throughout this article, Bellows is also a remarkably down-to-earth person. His maturity was a point of emphasis when head coach Cary Eades said the following to Sioux Falls Stampede reporter Jim Olander, “He’s a driven young man, a mature young man, but he also likes to have fun.” He also went on to say that Bellows is “humble and mature for his age.”
There’s often a difficulty among people to classify and differentiate between a power forward and a goal scorer who has size and can play physical. It’s the case with Max Pacioretty, who’s a sniper, not a power forward. With Bellows, he’s truly a combination of the two. In the midst of a game he can play both roles, depending on the situation.
Need to catch up on potential draftees? You will find the All Habs draft archive here or use the quick links below to check out our most recent articles on the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.
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