Kieffer Bellows hunts for one more chance with Nashville Predators

He's been close to keeping an NHL job, but his clock is ticking loudly
Philadelphia Flyers v New Jersey Devils
Philadelphia Flyers v New Jersey Devils / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

The Nashville Predators are done with the big splash free agency moves, but are not done adding to and shoring up their roster, both at the NHL and the AHL level. They did so on Wednesday by adding Kieffer Bellows on a one-year, two-way contract worth $775,000 if he sticks in the NHL.

Bellows was a 1st round pick (19th overall) of the New York Islanders in the 2016 NHL Draft. He spent his post-draft year with Boston University, and then went to the WHL with the Portland Winterhawks. He then spent the better part of 2 years in the AHL with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, proving to be an effective scorer, but one that spent too much time in the box.

He got his longest NHL run in the 21-22 season with the Islanders. where he played 45 games, scoring 6 goals and notching 13 assists for 19 points. Bellows just didn't fit with the Islanders and their style of play. Despite having NHL size (6'1" 195 pounds), and genetics (his dad is 1,000 point scorer Brian Bellows) he's been unable to translate his once tantalizing talent to the NHL level.

He flamed out and didn't latch on with the Flyers, which is understandable because frankly in 2022-23 the Flyers were a mess. He signed on with the Carolina Hurricanes on a PTO but ended up signing an AHL deal with the Toronto Marlies. The Marlies are often a high-level AHL squad, and Bellows excelled with them last season.

Bellows set career highs in goals (27), assists (22), points (49) , and plus-minus (+13) all last season. His 27 goals was third on the Marlies, and it was the most extended play that Bellows has gotten since the 2019-20 season. He needs to play consistently and he needs to be in an offensive system. He can play a heavier style of game, likes to forcheck, and is a frequent shooter. He's an ideal bottom-six player who needs to carve himself into that role.

Bellows is likely a player whose career hasn't worked out thanks to the expectations of his draft position. If given the proper role, and if he is willing to accept his fate to stay in the NHL, then this could be a great no-risk/all-reward kind of signing.

If Bellows can stick in the NHL then that means he's finally figured out his game and Barry Trotz signed a 26-year-old former first-rounder for about the league minimum. Think of the Mark Jankowski situation, except that Bellows has less NHL success.

If the signing doesn't work out and Bellows ends up in the AHL, then you have top-end talent in Miluawkee to help guide the Admirals through their own roster upheavals and stretches. Bellows is what some refer to as a AAAA player. He's going to score in bunches at the AHL level and realistically shouldn't be playing in it. His NHL capabilites are dependent on a fit with a team and patience. We'll see if the Predators are able to provide Bellows with his breakthrough.