In September, when the Penguins signed undrafted Lethbridge Hurricanes center Jordy Bellerive, we noted that while he was clearly a good pickup, he “could stand to improve his offensive output”.
He’s done that, and then some.
Research shows that, on average, a prospect will increase his offensive output by 25 percent in his draft-plus-one year. (For context, this comes from a Steve Burtch piece from 2015, though Burtch uses points/60, and we’re using points-per-game because ice time isn’t available for the WHL.) Bellerive wasn’t drafted, of course, but the principle is the same. You want to see players progress, rather than backslide.
Bear in mind that this season isn’t complete, but as things currently stand Bellerive has improved his points-per-game by 75 percent. It’s up from .800 last year to 1.400 this year.
VIDEO: Congratulations to new @WHLHurricanes captain @jordybellerive. He’s the 26th captain in franchise history. Full news release here >> https://t.co/ZHckNGQVvB. His reaction to being a leader below. #yql pic.twitter.com/Ohljlp6rwg— Kaella Carr (@CTVKaellaCarr) January 12, 2018
Signing an undrafted player is always a risk—there are questions about whether the player you see in camp is actually the player you’re going to get. Central Scouting ranked Bellerive 82nd among North American skaters in their final rankings last year. If he’d been picked at 82nd, that would’ve been right in the middle of the 3rd round, right behind players like his fellow WHLer and Red Wings prospect Lane Zablocki (chosen at 79th).
In 64 games last season, Zablocki had 54 points (28 goals, 26 assists). Bellerive had 56 (27 goals, 29 assists) in 70 games. Zablocki’s points-per-game was slightly higher than Bellerive’s, at .840, but all things considered, the numbers are fairly comparable. Drafting Bellerive in the 3rd round would not have been a reach, but rather, fairly on-track. With the benefit of hindsight, it seems a little absurd that he wasn’t drafted at all.
In 43 games this season, Bellerive has 60 points (26 goals, 34 assists), is 15th in league scoring, and is on pace to finish the regular season with 100 points. We’ll see if that bears out over the rest of the season, but an interesting side note: Bellerive is also currently 8th in the WHL in shots on goal.
After teammate Giorgio Estephan was traded at the WHL trade deadline, the Hurricanes named Bellerive captain. He’s still 18, and won’t turn 19 until May. He’s on pace to nearly double his points total season-to-season. All things considered, it looks like the Penguins found a diamond in the rough.