So, let’s talk about Jordy Bellerive, shall we?
I think by this point we all know the story of how the centerman became a Pittsburgh Penguin prospect. Got invited to the prospect tournament before the preseason, did ridiculously well. Through the four-game tournament, Bellerive scored a hat trick along with another goal to get him seven points throughout. Thus, he (along with forward Sam Miletic and goaltender Alex D’Orio) were signed to entry-level contracts out of the prospect tournament (with Bellerive’s being the standard three-year deal). Bellerive was given a look during Pittsburgh’s training camp, and was ultimately returned to juniors along with Miletic and D’Orio.
A few things to keep in mind before I read you (write you?) this stat line for Bellerive: He’s 19 years old, he went undrafted (even though he was ranked #82 by NHL Central Scouting), and was operating at a .68 points per game rate through his first and second year with the Lethbridge Hurricanes. Additionally, this year, his third year with the Hurricanes, was his first as captain of the squad. Okay, ready?
Are you sure?
Jordy Bellerive, through 71 games played for the Lethbridge Hurricanes, had 46 goals and 46 assists for 92 points. It doesn’t stop there, as through 16 playoff games this year, he had 9 goals and 16 assists for 25 points. That’s a rate of 1.2957 and 1.5625 points per game, respectively. These efforts got Bellerive the accolade of being named to the Western Hockey League’s 2nd All-Star Team. Pretty damn good all across the board. Especially at even strength, as can be illustrated here (along with some other juicy tidbits):
The comparison here is between Bellerive and Cody Glass, a top forward prospect in the Vegas Golden Knights organization and 6th overall draft selection at the NHL 2017 Entry Draft, who is the same age and plays in the same league as Bellerive. The gap between these two isn’t all that drastic! That isn’t a knock to Glass, who is poised to be an impact player in the NHL in his own right, but it’s a tip of the cap to Bellerive. Both are amazing even strength players and while Glass predictably holds a good bit of an edge, Bellerive is in no way far behind. Pretty good for someone who got signed out of a prospect tournament which was considered a formality by some…probably no longer.
But what makes this even JUICIER (I know, you love that word) is that he did this with a very, very poor supporting cast.
The following graphic, adapted from one of the best prospect analysts on the entirety of Twitter, Pensburgh’s @404ResponseCode (edited to reflect the season-ending numbers from when the graphic was originally created),demonstrates the disparity of points between the highest scorer on a team (shown) and the second highest scorer on the team, from the 2010-11 WHL season to the 2017-18 WHL season.
Seriously, check out CK’s stuff. They’re a wiz.
Anyway, the point here is that Lethbridge’s first line center did what he did with minimal help from his team (the second highest point scorer was defenseman Calen Addinson with 65 points in 68 games played, and after that (not counting Giorgio Estapan due to him being traded and not playing a full season with Lethbridge), centerman Dylan Cozens with 53 points in 57 games played (which, to his credit, got him the honor of being named WHL Rookie of the Year. So, good on him.). One could only think what Bellerive’s season would’ve looked like with better/more seasoned linemates, a better team, et cetera. But we don’t live in a world of what-ifs, so we’ll take what we have, and what we have is pretty damn exciting.
While Pittsburgh’s top prospect is undoubtedly Daniel Sprong, I’d be so bold as to put Jordy Bellerive as a close 2nd. Sprong is solidly #1, but Bellerive is definitely close.
Unlike Sprong, however, I’m not entirely sure I see Bellerive coming into the NHL next year barring horrific injury. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Derrick Brassard, Riley Sheahan, Josh Jooris, Adam Johnson, Teddy Blueger, and a few other centerman in front of him. And those are just the Pittsburgh Penguins that are currently signed through at least next year, not counting any depth signings that may be made during the (hopefully far away) offseason. To add, due to the (I’ll never get over how fucking stupid it is) CHL Transfer Agreement, Bellerive needs at least one more year of junior (or needs to age two more years) in order to play in the AHL. So it’s either NHL or WHL for him…probably WHL, eh?
But if there’s something you should take from this, it’s that Jordy Bellerive is really, really good.
And Pittsburgh’s general manager Jim Rutherford got him for relatively nothing.
As to why he went undrafted? Well, his first and second years weren’t stellar (don’t confuse that with bad), and I definitely think his height (5’10”) had something to do with it. Now, if you know me, you know that I have absolutely no issue with height in a hockey player. If it doesn’t impede skill, why should it be a factor in determining the worth of a player? A prime example of this is Alex DeBrincat of the Chicago Blackhawks, who can deke you out of your jock despite…nah, while, being 5’7″. You don’t need to be tall to be good at hockey, but you gotta know that management in some NHL organizations still believe you do. Clearly, by the way the team has been run lately, Rutherford doesn’t believe this. Which is a credit to the success of the club through its skilled (even if small) recent additions to the NHL roster in players like Jake Guentzel, Conor Sheary, and Bryan Rust.
Additionally, this was a get without ex Pittsburgh Penguins head of amateur scouting, and current assistant general manager of the Buffalo Sabres, Randy Sexton. I personally thought that was a huge loss, but when the signing of Bellerive turning out how it did…what in the world do I know, huh? Head of amateur scouting Patrik Allvin has done a fantastic job thus far.
In addition, for the John Taves Leadership per 60 3 in 6 group, don’t worry, Bellerive is pretty great at being captain too. Got some character in him…
Unfortunately, the Lethbridge Hurricanes suffered a second consecutive third round exit in the WHL playoffs, this time eliminated in 6 games by the Swift Current Broncos, though captain Bellerive was pretty optimistic about the future of the Hurricanes and made his faith in the talent the Hurricanes have pretty damn clear, sparing no words.
From Lethbridge News Now (by Aaron Mahoney):
““The young guys really stepped up for us this year. I mean, Barlage, Cozens, Addison, and other guys all showed what they could do in the playoffs and had huge performances. I think moving forward it’s only going to get better for this organization and that’s been the trend for the last three years,” Bellerive said, adding it’s a credit to the coaching and management staffs for getting guys who want to win and get better.”
Next year is Bellerive’s first full season as captain after Estepan’s departure after trade, and the assistant captains in Zane Franklin and Ty Prefontaine will try and build on the recent playoff success the Hurricanes have been sustaining, hopefully to a WHL championship and perhaps even the Memorial Cup.
If you wanna watch him kick some (figurative) butt and bury some biscuits, be amazed.