Kieffer Bellows was recalled from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Monday morning, marking the first-NHL recall for the Islanders' 2016 first-round pick.
"It's such an honor and a privilege to be here," Bellows said. "It's super exciting. I'm just trying to come here work hard, play my game and do the little things in practice. Whenever my opportunity is available, I'll be ready."
Bellows leads the Sound Tigers in goals (16) and points (24) and was named the CCM/AHL Player of the Month for December, scoring 10 goals in 11 games during the month. His consistency over the past two months was what earned his call-up, according to Islanders President and General Manager Lou Lamoriello and Head Coach Barry Trotz.
Video: Practice 2/3: Kieffer Bellows
"We've been talking about Kieffer for a while in terms of his consistency," Trotz said. "He had a really good December and followed that into January… We're looking for a goal here, or a goal there, so we brought him in to take a look at him."
Lamoriello said Bellows' game had taken an upswing over the past two months after the forward was healthy scratched on Nov. 23 and 24. Bellows scored 12 goals in 16 games after his scratches, the type of consistency Lamoriello and co wanted to see out of one of their "A" prospects.
"He was going through a lull and maybe felt a little sorry for himself and that pucks weren't going in. The coaches had him sit a game or two and watch and he responded the way you'd like to see a player respond," Lamoriello said. "Then you want to see if he'd be consistent and he has been, so he deserves the opportunity to come up with his consistency because he's one of our A prospects. We know he can score goals and he plays with a little chip on his shoulder. We'll see here he's at."
Video: Practice 2/3: Lou Lamoriello
While Bellows' shot is his calling card, the 21-year-old insists his all-around game has developed in Bridgeport. Trotz echoed the sentiment, noting that Bellows has added more consistency and defensive awareness to his game, two attributes that he said helped Bellows earn his call-up.
"Consistency. Even in training camp he had a real good start and then it fell off on him. That's away from the puck and it was little more systematic, which is typical for young guys," Trotz said. "There's not many young guys that come in the league and you say, they're dialed in systematically. They are usually the freelancers, the guys who are better than everyone else on their team. They do things that they get away with and produce at the lower level, but you can't do that at our level, or even the American League. I think he's a lot more dialed in systematically, I think he's moving his feet much better and because of that, you get to those areas that you do score."
Bellows practiced alongside Derick Brassard during Monday's skate, with Michael Dal Colle and Tom Kuhnhackl rotating in on the right wing. Trotz said he's looking for some more offense and consistency out of his third line and is curious to see if Bellows can add both to the line. The Islanders' coach didn't specify when Bellows would get into the Islanders' lineup, but when the call comes, Bellows said it'll be a dream come true.
"If it happens, it would mean a lot for me and my parents and my whole family," Bellows said. "They've been my rock, my whole support staff and they've been with me through all the ups and downs. It would mean a lot. I'm ready whenever."
Video: Practice 2/3: Barry Trotz