The Stanley Cup Final is underway, which means the NHL season is drawing near and the offseason activity will start to pick up soon enough.
Now less than a month away from the NHL Draft in Buffalo, the Combine has started to take place as prospects get one last chance to audition for NHL teams.
In the meantime, we continue our series on potential draft targets for the Flyers, who hold the 18th overall pick. Our profile series continues with a look at US U-18 winger Kieffer Bellows.
For this 17-year-old winger, you could say goal-scoring runs in his blood. After all, when your father has 1188 NHL games and 485 goals in the NHL on his resume, you tend to be compared and bred on the same qualities.
That's Kieffer Bellows for you, the son of former NHLer Brian Bellows.
Bellows scored 50 goals for the US U-18 team this season and finished the season with 81 points in 62 games. Bellows also had a strong showing at World Juniors this year, scoring five goals and adding three assists for eight points in seven games.
Bellows is 6'1" and 194-pounds, the smallest of the wingers we have profiled thus far, but don't be afraid of his height or weight. He has an imposing build that makes him difficult to move off the puck. He skates well, is a terrific puck-handler and comes with a tremendous release on his shot that gives him the scorer's touch.
That build makes him especially tenacious on the forecheck and he especially displays a strong work ethic and tremendous athleticism for a player at his age.
Overall, Bellows is a balanced attacker, strong and physical on the puck, but with a shot that can make him very dangerous from all areas.
Bellows is far from the most complete player in the draft. Scouts would like to see more consistency from his game and his physical play sometimes becomes too much for his own good. He's been known to take some bad penalties and had 101 penalty minutes in 62 games with the US U-18 team this past season.
That said, if you're looking for a strong goal scorer with all the instinct of an offensive threat and the physicality of a big power winger without the size on paper, this is your guy. Bellows is no instant fix -- he's committed to Boston University for next season and will play college hockey to try to find that consistency -- but there seems to be a lot of potential there.
"He’s a good skater with tremendous balance and moves well laterally," The Draft Analyst writes. "And while he used play center for Edina’s powerhouse high school program, Bellows is most certainly better suited as a shooter from the flank. He’s built like a Mack truck and plays with fire, using tremendous athleticism and work ethic to maintain his compete level, even during extended shifts."
"Kieffer Bellows is a skilled power forward that can dominate games, writes Curtis Joe of Elite Prospects. "Possesses high end puck-handling ability as well as a crisp, accurate release on his shot. All-in-all, a competitor that punishes the opposition physically, as well as on the scoreboard."
That said, Bellows is easily the third of the three wingers we've profiled to this point. Unlike Julien Gauthier or Max Jones, Bellows doesn't have the experience or consistency yet that would qualify him for a potential Top-15 pick. While Gauthier and Jones should be on the Flyers radar, it would surprise no one if both of them went inside the Top-15 or even pushed closer to the Top 10, but there is a chance that both could be on the board at 18 as well. It's that wide open.
The picture for Bellows is a little clearer. It seems his peak is right around 17 or 18 and he could even drop as low as a late first-round pick, somewhere around 24 or 25. If the Flyers can't get their hands on one of the power wingers with a little more hype and slightly better projections, Bellows would be a good third option and far from a reach where they are picking.
You can watch highlights of Bellows from this season below.
Kevin Durso is managing editor for Flyerdelphia. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.