Bellows, 24, has played in only a single game for the Islanders this season, registering three hits and no shots on goal in just over seven minutes of ice time. While he obviously isn’t in the plan at the NHL level right now, his placement on waivers will still come as a shock to many who have been waiting for him to take the next step in his career.
Selected 19th overall in 2016, the high-energy winger went to Boston University for one season before deciding to leave school and join the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL. In that league he was incredibly dominant, scoring 41 goals in 56 regular season games, often skating beside Cody Glass. Upon reaching the minor leagues the next season he continued his goal-scoring, tickling the twine 34 times over two seasons. He also racked up 150 penalty minutes in his 125 AHL contests, including four fighting majors.
That kind of player seemed perfectly suited for life with the Islanders, who were focused on “identity” and toughness, but it was difficult to crack the lineup. Last season it appeared as though Bellows had finally done it, scoring six goals and 19 points in 45 NHL games. That led to a one-year, $1.2MM contract this summer, another sign that the Islanders were committed to using the young forward on a regular basis.
The press box has been the regular stop for Bellows early on, and now waivers will likely mean he’s on to a new destination or headed for a familiar one. He stands as an interesting candidate to be claimed, though the $1.2MM contract (and qualifying offer next summer) could stand in the way for some teams struggling with cap issues. If he clears, one would expect him to be sent back to Bridgeport where he can at least get on the ice.