This is a continuation of the series of profiles of members of the Penguins’ organization. Dave Molinari recently completed profiles of the Penguins’ roster, and now I’m taking a look at select prospects not on the major-league roster:
Age: 20 Size: 5 foot 11, 194 pounds Position: Forward Acquired: Signed as an undrafted free agent in 2017 2018-19 WHL stats: 33 goals, 50 assists in 68 games
How he fits: Although he can play both center and wing (and played both positions pretty evenly last season), the Penguins have used him exclusively as a center in the prospect tournament. I'd expect Sam Lafferty to center Wilkes-Barre/Scranton's first line this season, with Bellerive centering the second line.
Shortcomings: There aren't many, he has a well-rounded game. The thing he'll need to focus on this year is just adjusting to the pro game.
Hidden variable: His hands. Bellerive saw a slight decrease in production this year with 83 points in 68 games, down from his total of 92 points in 71 games in 2017-18. Still a great season production-wise, but not what he was hoping for. That can likely be attributed to his needing to make adjustments to his hand positioning when he grips his stick, due to the tightness from the scars from his bonfire accident. While the skin on his hands isn't completely healed, he seemed to adjust to the situation as the season went on and is now comfortable with the new positioning. It's possible that as more time goes on, he gets more movement back in his hands.
2019-20 expectations: I wouldn't expect Bellerive to receive his first call up this season, only because Lafferty, Anthony Angello, and Sam Miletic will likely be ahead of him due to their experience. He'll still be given heavy responsibility this season, and I'd expect him to finish among the top five scorers.
The big question: Will the things that made Bellerive successful in juniors -- namely his shot production and physicality -- translate smoothly to the professional game?