ColoradoAvalanche.com is profiling draft-eligible prospects leading up to the 2016 NHL Draft in Buffalo on June 24-25. Kieffer Bellows is the No. 10-ranked North American skater in the NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings. The Avalanche has the 10th overall selection at the draft.
His dad won a Stanley Cup and scored 1,022 points in 17 NHL seasons, and the apple does not fall far from the tree for Kieffer Bellows. The forward is the 10th-ranked North American skater in the NHL Central Scouting’s final list and could possibly follow in his father's footsteps.
"I think he's going to be the finisher and the sniper," said David Gregory of NHL Central Scouting to NHL.com. "He can play on the wing and if you have someone that can get him the puck, he's very adept at getting open for shooting lanes. He can distribute, but there are not many people that can shoot it like him and finish like him. I think if a team gets him, they're going to try to get him in a role where he gets opportunities to finish.
"I don't see a lot of deficiencies in his game. Having seen him play for the past three years, I've seen him just get better and better."
Bellows' dad, Brian, won a Stanley Cup with Montreal in 1993 and registered 485 career goals while playing for five NHL teams from 1982 to 1999. Kieffer has also found a knack for finding the back of the net.
The 17-year-old joined the United States National Team Development Program this past season and collected 81 points (50 goals, 31 assists) in 62 games. Bellows finished first on the team in goals and second in points.
The 6-foot, 195-pound power forward also won a bronze medal with Team USA at the 2016 IIHF Under-18 World Championship. The left wing completed the tournament with eight points (five goals, three assists) in seven games, ranking tied for eighth in tallies and tied for 13th in points among all skaters at the tournament.
"I'd say outside of the offense, he's a real aggressive player," said Danton Cole, Bellows' head coach at the NTDP, to NHL.com. "He's physical on the forecheck and back pressure. He's definitely a shooter, I mean, he looks to shoot the puck and he has that ability… to get the pucks on the net from all kinds of odd angles and not just a soft shot. I mean he gets it on hard, it's a goal-scorer shot. The biggest thing everyone notices is the result of that, and the goal scoring. He scores goals."
While Bellows' prowess in hitting twine is evident, Cole noted that other aspects of the young player's game are strong and underestimated.
"It's nice seeing him every day in practice and in different situations, and he can move a puck very well; he sees the openings," Cole said. "He understands some of the theory of offense and understands setting up triangles and where the open guy is. Now that doesn't mean he's not going to take his shots because he will, but I think also, like his defense, I think it's an underrated part of his game."
Before representing Team USA, Bellows played the previous season in the United States Hockey League with the Sioux Falls Stampede. He helped the Stampede win the Clark Cup championship in 2014-15 and earned Rookie of the Year honors. He registered 52 points (33 goals, 19 assists) in 58 outings and had nine goals and two assists in 12 playoff games.
"We worked hard [in Sioux Falls], we were not the most skilled," Bellows recalled of his first season in the USHL in an interview with USAHockey.com. "I can bring in a hardworking effort every day. Winning the Clark Cup, I can bring in a winning attitude [and] I can help the team with that [attitude]."
Next year, Bellows will bring his positive approach to the Boston University Terriers, the college he committed to in June 2014.
"The coaches did a really good job of recruiting me," he said of BU. "I went out to a visit and they made me feel as if I was one of the Terriers. Going into to the locker room and traveling through everything, it felt like home when I stepped onto campus."
Bellows has the potential to be a star in college hockey, but his skill set and scoring touch could make him a future household name in the NHL as well.