Bellows expresses gratitude for Islanders, says hello to young Flyers originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
VOORHEES, N.J. — Seven of the Flyers' expected 12 forwards Saturday will be 25 years old or younger.
General manager Chuck Fletcher noted how the Flyers wanted to get younger this season. They've been forced to get even younger because of injuries.
The latest addition to their youth parade is Kieffer Bellows, a 24-year-old winger who was a first-round pick in 2016. The Flyers claimed him off of waivers Thursday from the Islanders. Bellows is trying to figure out where he stands at the NHL level. Coming to Philadelphia, where opportunity has become ripe for young players, has Bellows eager to find a role with the Flyers.
"Talking with the coaches and Chuck about that, he just emphasized the young guys that we have on the team," Bellows said Friday after taking the ice in a small-group, skill-oriented practice with the Flyers. "I'm excited for that. The young guys here have made a big impact on this team. I don't think that could have happened without the veteran leadership here, as well, from those guys that have been around for a while. It's a good united group between veterans and young guys."
Bellows will make his Flyers debut Saturday when the club hosts the Hurricanes (7 p.m. ET/NCSBP). His shot and potential to score goals with it have been highlighted since his draft year. He put up 50 markers for the U.S. national U-18 team before New York drafted him 19th overall in the summer of 2016.
With Flyers head coach John Tortorella, Bellows will have to work hard at the small details to stay on the ice and play a larger role.
"I don't know him," Tortorella said Friday. "I know he was a high pick, which doesn't mean much to me at all. But Chuck, through our people that have seen him play through it all, through his draft year and all that, spoke very highly of him. That's what I'm going on.
"I'm going to see him play and we'll go from there. This was basically a quick conversation with Chuck and they felt it was a good thing to do. Weren't sure if we were going to get him. We did and he'll play tomorrow."
Clearly if Bellows' potential had materialized with the Islanders, they wouldn't have run the risk of losing him on waivers. He would have stuck with the big club. Things didn't pan out the way New York and Bellows had hoped. But he's still only 24 and there's upside, which the Flyers are welcoming right now with their team.
"I think our guys that have watched him and know him felt maybe a change of scenery might help him, because he was pretty highly touted when he came out," Tortorella said. "That was the message relayed to Chuck when he came up in the waiver."
Bellows expressed his appreciation for the Islanders and general manager Lou Lamoriello.
"It was a decision by Lou to put me on waivers and we talked about it," he said. "I respect his decision, he's got to do what's best for his team, it's a business. I can't thank him enough for everything he's done for me over the past few years, he has taken care me. It's a class-act organization over there. It was sad to leave the guys, it's such a nice team over there, but I'm excited for this opportunity."
The Flyers are off to 5-2-0 start under Tortorella and have kept the puck out of their net for the most part. But they're always looking for some goal scoring.
"I think the big thing is I just want to be a power forward," Bellows said. "I think that's kind of the role that I see myself as, a power forward that scores goals, has good offensive flair, but can be trusted defensively, as well.
"I'd say my biggest strength is just shooting the puck and scoring goals. No matter what, I'm just putting the puck on net, whether that's 5-on-5, power play, whatever it is, I'm shooting to score."
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