If you needed any indication that Kieffer Bellows is no longer a member of the New York Islanders, just take a look at his chin.
“I don’t know what you call it, I guess growing out the facial hair was just something that I’m maybe being lazy about it,” Bellows said on Saturday before his Philadelphia Flyers squared off against his former team, which prohibits facial hair during the regular season.”But it’s just there.”
The 24-year-old left-winger returned to UBS Arena for the first time since being put on waivers by the Islanders last month where he was shortly claimed by the Metropolitan Division-rival Flyers.
“It’s going to be weird looking across the ice and not wearing the blue and orange,” Bellows said, adding that he’s recently spoken with the likes of Sebastian Aho, Oliver Wahlstrom, and recent debutant Simon Holmstrom. “But I’m happy to see the success that the team is having. I’m happy they’re doing well.”
Weirdness aside, this is an opportunity for Bellows to get consistent playing time, which was nothing promised when he was with the Islanders. He played 68 games across four seasons in New York after being drafted 19th overall in 2016, including just one in 2022-23 before getting waived.
“It was surprising but I know that Lou has to make the best decisions for his team in the long run so I respect it,” Bellows said. “I only have high praise for Lou and that organization… That’s where I started my career. They gave me my first opportunity to play in the NHL and I can’t thank them enough for that.”
He’s already played in nine with a banged-up Flyers team that has struggled mightily as of late, losing nine straight entering Saturday night’s tilt at UBS Arena.
“I was super excited to hear that Philadelphia wanted to claim me and I was excited for another opportunity to show myself as the player I believe I am and I know that I am,” Bellows said. “I feel like I’ve been given a good opportunity.”
Profiled as a potential high-end scorer, Bellows posted 11 goals and 14 assists in those 68 games with the Islanders, but has yet to get off the mark in Philadelphia — something he said will come in a matter of time as long as he keeps playing
“I’m just trying to learn the system and get used to everything. But these last three games I’ve really found myself. I’m shooting the puck more,” he said. “Right now I’m not too worried about that. I know that if I’m getting opportunities, sooner rather than later they’re going to go in.”
For more on Kieffer Bellows and the Islanders, visit AMNY.com