Now that the NHL season is underway, it is time to debut a weekly Sunday feature at the Scouting Post. Each week from now until draft weekend in Buffalo next June, I will preview a player expected to go somewhere in the top-50 some eight months from now.
If you have any players you want to see featured in particular, just shoot me a note on Twitter to @kluedeke29 and I’ll see what I can do to make it happen.
Kieffer Bellows, LW U.S. National Team Development Program U18 (USHL)
6-1, 190; Shoots: Left
What you need to know:
Son of former NHL star and second overall pick in 1982 Brian Bellows. The elder Bellows was drafted out of the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers and went on to win a Stanley Cup with Montreal in 1993, with 485 career goals and 1,022 points.
Set USHL record for goals in a season by a 16-year-old last season with 33 in 58 regular season games with the Clark Cup champion Sioux Falls Stampede. Followed up with 9 markers in just 12 playoff contests.
Committed to Boston University for the 2016-17 season; chose the Terriers over his hometown University of Minnesota Golden Gophers (born and raised in Edina, Minn.)
Currently projected as a top-20 pick, will move closer to the top-10 if he continues scoring at the torrid pace he is on with 5 goals in his first 6 games with the NTDP.
What he does well:
Fine skater with ability to separate in the open ice with rapid acceleration. Wicked shot and high-level hockey sense combine to make him a danger to score on every shift. He drifts into open seams in the offensive zone and puts himself into prime scoring areas.
What he needs to improve:
Like most kids his age, he must improve his overall strength and conditioning. He’s also learning to round out his game more and to play within the systems employed by Team USA after being a player who was always expected to go out and score.
2 minutes in the box with Kieffer Bellows:
On leaving Sioux Falls to join Team USA: “The decision was tough. We had just won a championship and I left a family there. But with Coach (Cary) Eades moving on (to the Fargo Force as GM/Head Coach), the chance to play for my country is a great honor and something I really wanted to do. I see how hard these guys (in the NTDP) work and I wanted to be a part of that.”
On what led to his success as the league’s top rookie: “Many people helped me with that. My linemates Cooper Marody and Logan O’Connor are the biggest reason I was able to be a successful scorer in the USHL and I can’t thank Coach Eades enough for helping me to be a much better all-around player. We had such a close-knit group of guys in Sioux Falls and the coaches did a great job to prepare us for games and make sure we didn’t get too high or too low. I think that helped us out a lot in the playoffs when we got on a roll and everything just came together for us.”
On the choice of BU over Minnesota: “It was very close between those two schools to be honest, and it was such a difficult decision to make because of the education and the hockey tradition you get from both. What I appreciated most is that when I made my decision to go to BU and told my friends about it before everything became public, they were behind me and supported it, even though they’re Golden Gophers fans.”
Here’s more from Bellows in a USHL video profile done last May:
“The young men that grow up with dads that played pro hockey have a bit of an advantage. They’ve been around the rinks and have seen how pro players prepare and conduct themselves. Just observing the professionals gives them an important understanding of what it takes to play at the higher levels. All that being said, Kieffer comes across as a pretty grounded kid who wants to get better and is willing to work at it. That kind of thing comes from the inside- even if you grew up around the game, you either have that in you or you don’t.”– Danton Cole, head coach, U.S. NTDP Under 18 team
Kieffer Bellows 2014-15 USHL highlight video: