RALEIGH, N.C. – It was not the Islanders’ intention to lose former first-rounder Kieffer Bellows without compensation. But placing him on waivers was a risk president and general manager Lou Lamoriello felt he had to take.
“Simplistically, it was a roster decision of who could be sent down [to the Islanders’ AHL affiliate in Bridgeport] and who couldn’t,” Lamoriello told Newsday on Friday. “We did not want to take a chance of six defensemen, especially with a big road trip coming up. These are decisions that you have to make and you go forward.”
The Flyers claimed Bellows, selected 19th overall in 2016 and on a one-year, $1.2 million deal, on Thursday. The Islanders then recalled defenseman Robin Salo for Friday night’s game against the Hurricanes at PNC Arena, though he was a healthy scratch as Sebastian Aho remained in the lineup.
Lamoriello declined to comment on whether the Islanders tried to move Bellows via a trade before placing him on waivers.
But it’s almost certain that was the case.
“You’re always talking to teams about players,” Lamoriello said.
Lamoriello said Bellows would have been reassigned to Bridgeport had he cleared waivers.
“Get him playing on a regular basis to have him ready if needed,” Lamoriello said. “Unfortunately, this is part of the business.”
Bellows logged a game-low 7:16 in the season opener and was a healthy scratch in the six subsequent contests as both Ross Johnston and Nikita Soshnikov got one-game trials in the lineup instead. Overall, Bellows had 11 goals and 14 assists in 68 games over parts of four seasons with the Islanders.
Lamoriello said he’s still comfortable with the organization’s depth at forward even after losing Bellows.
“I’m extremely comfortable, especially with the play of our younger players who are at Bridgeport and how close a few of them were and where they’re at today.”