NEWARK — Kieffer Bellows has been a full-time member of the Islanders for two seasons without earning a consistent spot in the lineup.
Naturally, that’s the goal for this season though the numbers may work against him. The Islanders seemingly have 11 forward spots locked up, Oliver Wahlstrom and Ross Johnston also return and former first-rounder Simon Holmstrom is pushing for a spot as he has skated with Mathew Barzal and Zach Parise.
“I think if you’re good enough, the numbers’ game takes care of itself,” coach Lane Lambert said.
Bellows logged 18:20, including 5:28 on the power play, with two shots in his preseason debut as the Islanders lost to the Devils, 4-1, on Tuesday night at Prudential Center. He skated on a line with highly-touted prospect Aatu Raty and Kyle Palmieri.
“It’s a big year for me,” Bellows said. “I’m on the one-year deal and I’m excited to go out there and have a big year and show that I’m capable of playing all 82 games. The confidence is high in myself right now.”
The 19th overall pick in the 2016 draft — and the son of three-time All-Star Brian Bellows — had six goals and 13 assists in a career-high 45 games last season. He played just 14 games in 2020-21 and did not dress for any game in the postseason as the Islanders reached the NHL semifinals.
Bellows agreed to a one-year, $1.2 million deal for this season as a restricted free agent, his second straight one-year contract.
He’s always had a strong shot but has struggled to find two-way consistency in his game.
Bellows has worked closely with Lambert, the associate coach the past four seasons before being promoted to replace the fired Barry Trotz on May 16. Perhaps that past relationship will push Bellows further this season.
“He had a couple of really good chances in the first period,” Lambert said. “I thought he showed himself OK.”
That included ripping a shot from the right circle at 12:21 of the period that Devils goalie Vitek Vanecek smothered.
“Lane and I have worked a lot together with him being an assistant coach and doing a lot of extra work with him,” Bellows said. “To go out there and prove to the organization, I don’t need to do much other than just be the player I am. Just go out there and play that power forward mentality. Have that confidence. If I do that, I know good things will come.”
Notes & quotes: Ilya Sorokin allowed three goals on 12 shots in 29:55. Former Devil Cory Schneider then stopped 13 of the 14 shots he faced . . . Wahlstrom was the lone Islander in Tuesday’s lineup to also dress for Monday night’s 4-1 loss to the Rangers at Madison Square Garden . . . Former Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey, in Devils’ training camp on a professional tryout offer, was paired with Simon Nemec, the second overall pick this summer . . . Forwards Otto Koivula and Collin Adams skated for the first time since training camp opened . . . Defensemen Samuel Bolduc and Isaiah George remained unavailable.