Important roster decision looming for the Leafs regarding a point-per-game player

Ryan Smitheram
December 29, 2023  (11:02)

Leafs have an important decision looming regarding former 1st rounder Kieffer Bellows
Photo credit: AHL

At the end of October, the Toronto Maple Leafs signed former first-round pick Kieffer Bellows to a PTO with the Toronto Marlies. Since making his debut, the 25-year-old has been lights out, with 11 goals and 20 points in 20 games. If that's not a successful trial run, I don't know what is.

Bellows started off with an 8-game point streak before failing to register a point in a handful of games. Currently, Bellows is on another point streak, which is currently sitting at 6 games, showing that he is capable of producing consistently at the professional level.
With how Bellows has played, it is rather surprising that he has not yet signed a contract with either the Marlies or Leafs. That will likely happen over the next week or so, however, as Bellows, having played 20 games already, can only play 5 more games while on a PTO. If the Leafs/Marlies want him to play more games, they'll first have to offer him a contract.
The Leafs currently have 47 contracts, which leaves them with 3 slots to fill before reaching the maximum of 50. The Leafs only have $845K in salary cap space, but more can be created by sending someone like Pontus Holmberg or Nick Robertson down to the Marlies. While Bellows is currently on a PTO with the Marlies, he is still eligible to sign a contract with any other team, and you can bet that if the Leafs don't sign him the second his PTO expires, he will have a number of suitors. Regardless of where Bellows signs, based on the CBA, he would not have to clear waivers before being recalled, which is good news for the Leafs or whichever team ends up signing him.
It is surprising that Bellows has not been signed by the Leafs yet, given how well he has played. He would add plenty of speed and tenacity to the Leafs' bottom six and provide some secondary scoring as well. Since being drafted in 2016, Bellows has skated in 95 career NHL games where he has registered 14 goals and 28 points.
Important roster decision looming for the Leafs regarding a point-per-game player

Are you surprised the Leafs have not signed Bellows yet?

Very, he would help their bottom six34952.7 %
Not really, he's more of what they already have31347.3 %
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