Islanders waive Kieffer Bellows to end roster logjam

The Islanders have finally picked a forward to waive.

After the team spent the first two weeks of the season carrying 15 forwards and six defensemen on their roster as a way of avoiding resolution to the training camp competition between Oliver Wahlstrom, Kieffer Bellows, Nikita Soshnikov and Ross Johnston, the Isles placed Bellows on waivers on Wednesday.

The 24-year-old Bellows, who signed a one-year, $1.2 million extension during the offseason, had a successful training camp, seeming to win a spot in the lineup on opening night. But once Wahlstrom was ready to return from an upper-body injury, Bellows was back in the press box as a healthy scratch, and when coach Lane Lambert switched up the lineup in Florida last weekend, it was Soshnikov and Johnston who made their season debuts over him.

The move is still surprising, not least because the Islanders committed to Bellows for another season just a few months ago, but something had to give with the team not carrying an extra defenseman in case of injury. The Isles had gotten away with that so far by having Sebastian Aho on injured reserve, then taking him off when the team was in Florida, meaning that it was impractical for Robin Salo to return to Bridgeport immediately.

The Islanders waived forward Kieffer Bellows (20) on Wednesday.
NHLI via Getty Images

But Salo, who started the year as the team’s sixth defenseman, was with the AHL squad when the team returned home, meaning that if there was an injury, he would not have been immediately available to rejoin the Isles.

Bellows, a first-round pick in 2016, has 11 career goals and 14 assists with the Islanders.

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