The Pittsburgh Penguins have a stated desire to get bigger and a little tougher for the 2021-22 NHL season. It likely won’t matter for a couple or few seasons, at least, but the Penguins may have found a steal in the fifth round of the 2021 NHL Draft when they snagged offensive defenseman Isaac Belliveau from Gatineau Olympiques.
Belliveau played most of his junior career at Rimouski Oceanic, and if that sounds familiar, it is because that was Sidney Crosby’s junior team in the QMJHL.
The Penguins may have gotten a steal, too. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound Belliveau was rated as the 75th best North American skater by the NHL Central Scouting. Dobber Prospects had him No. 95, and the Puck Authority had him rated at 61st.
The Pittsburgh Penguins drafted him at 154th.
UPDATE: Penguins Director of Player Personnel Chris Pryor offered the Penguins assessment, too:
“He can play both sides of the puck, but sometimes he can get caught up–he’s got to tone it down, but there’s a lot to like. He’s a bigger kid. For some of these kids, it’s a natural progression–learning as they get older, that maturity level as far as what they can and cannot do. That just comes with maturity. He’s got a lot going for him. He’s a bigger kid, has a little edge to his game, and has good puck game.”
Scouting services noted Belliveau’s great skating and puckhandling. His offensive skills are rated well above average, but his defensive work is rated as average.
He also wears No. 58, so he may have to swap numbers if he arrives in Pittsburgh sooner than later.
His best season was 2019-20. He scored 42 points, including 11 goals in 53 games with Rimouski. Belliveau led the Rimouski power play, which also included 2020 first-overall pick Alexis Lafreniere.
However, Belliveau slumped in the broken COVID season and was also traded to Gatineau. Combined, he scored 17 points (5-12-17) in 37 games; he played 16 games with Rimouski and 21 with Gatineau.
Perhaps his dip allowed the defenseman to fall to the Penguins.
He had the proper size to play in the NHL, and his skating draws raves from scouting services. However, Hockeywizz notes in addition to average defensive zone coverage, his shot must become stronger.