The Toronto Maple Leafs, as they always seem to do, face a future salary-cap challenge next season for two reasons. First, Auston Matthews will be in the first season of his new contract. Second, William Nylander’s new contract will be signed. And, it should be a hefty one. He’s done his best to achieve star status with the team. As a result, his expected contract should be significant.

Nylander’s contract, along with other continuing contracts, will put some strain on the team’s financial flexibility. While that’s nothing new, it still necessitates some give and take in other places. The team will need, as much as ever, other cost-effective players on other contracts.

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Kieffer Bellows, who is currently playing and excelling with the AHL Toronto Marlies, presents an enticing solution. He’s an interesting player. The New York Rangers thought enough of him to draft him in the middle of the first round; however, after some time with the Islanders, they gave up on him. He was claimed off waivers by the Philadelphia Flyers but they didn’t resign him during the 2023 offseason.

Keiffer Bellows, Maple Leafs

However, the Marlies signed him to a professional tryout (PTO) and he’s been playing with them since. With the Marlies, he’s scoring at the clip of a point-a-game and is showing a physical playing style much like Michael Bunting’s.

I believe Bellows could offer an effective, budget-friendly option to fill roster gaps created by salary constraints.

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Expect Tyler Bertuzzi to Leave After This Season

Would Bellows be a strategic solution to the Maple Leafs’ financial constraints? As the team seeks to figure out how to respond to the upcoming financial shifts, it seems likely that a player like Tyler Bertuzzi will sign elsewhere. He’s playing well; however, his scoring is far from setting the world afire. I would think that the Maple Leafs believe they could find cheaper options that would offer them near the same production.

It is here that Bellows emerges as a potential asset. His gritty playing style, coupled with offensive capabilities, at least gives him some potential for filling in a needed spot for the team. He could become a valuable addition to the top six. In the face of salary-cap challenges, Bellows represents a calculated move to maintain competitiveness without compromising the team’s long-term vision.

Could Bellows Become a Tipping Point for the Maple Leafs’ Future?

If Bellows works out, he might become more than just a short-term fix. Instead, he might become a longer-term member of the team. Could he become part of the team’s future success? While waiver considerations might keep him with the Marlies for the current season, fans should closely watch his progression.

Perhaps it’s a long shot; however, IF Bellows works out, he could become a pivotal figure for the big club’s forward corps in the upcoming seasons. He’d be a good addition to the physicality of Matthew Knies. Both players might blend offensive contributions with a tenacious on-ice presence.

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