Our annual, 2021 version of the top players under the age of 25 in the Pittsburgh Penguins organization.
2021 Pensburgh Top 25 Under 25: Graduates and Departed
#25: Santeri Airola
#24: Jan Drozg
#23: Will Reilly
#22: Clayton Phillips
#21: Chase Yoder
#20: Kirill Tankov
#19: Raivis Ansons
#18: Lukas Svejkovsky
#17: Judd Caulfield
#16: Johnathan Gruden
#15: Kasper Bjorkqvist
#14: Jordy Bellerive, Forward
2020 Ranking: #16
Age: 22 (May 2, 1999)
Height/Weight: 5’10”, 194 pounds
Acquired Via: Signed as undrafted free agent (September 2017)
2020-21 was a difficult circumstance for everyone, but one player who was able to flourish and take a positive step ahead for himself professionally was Jordy Bellerive. As WbsPenguins.com wrote on an article titled “Jordy Bellerive ‘made a big jump’ in second season with Penguins”:
Going back to Bellerive’s rookie year, he notched just three goals in his first 38 pro games, but then erupted for nine goals in the last 18 games of 2019-20. Determined to prove that late-season output was no fluke, the North Vancouver, B.C. native tied for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s team lead with 10 goals this year, and his 18 points placed fourth on the team.
His penchant for potting those goals in clutch moments is already the stuff of legend. Half of his goals since turning pro have come in the third period or overtime. The Penguins are 13-3-2-0 (.778) all-time whenever he lights the lamp.
Despite the increased production and continued success at coming up clutch, Bellerive believes his second-year improvement spans beyond the scoresheet.
“The goals and everything, that’s great, but I’ve said it before I’ll say it again, that’s just a bonus,” he said. “I think my game has a lot more than just the goal scoring stuff like that… I want to continue to focus on the little things.”
There was a marked improvement in “the little things” in Bellerive’s game this season, as well.
His work on faceoffs improved drastically from his rookie season, and even showed steady signs of improvement throughout the season. Bellerive put an emphasis on improving his speed over the long offseason, and that increased acceleration showed itself not only on offense, but also on several key backchecking plays throughout the course of the year.
One huge element of the subtlety in Bellerive’s game is his antagonistic nature. A regular perturbance, the 22-year-old has near-perfected the art of getting underneath his opponents’ skin.
Bellerive’s career arc is taking a classic turn as a player who lit up the junior scoring initially struggled at the pro level (where everyone is really good) but now is finding different ways to contribute and become a well-rounded player.
Bellerive finding a way to preserve and add an edge in 2020-21 is no coincidence. This is a player who was perhaps heading for a star track until a bonfire mishap ended up scarring and hospitalizing him, perhaps leading to more hand damage than he’s ever wanted to let on or allow for an excuse. The view from Dobber’s model really shows that fall, but yet Bellerive has hung tough and found a way to rebound as of late.
It feels like Bellerive has been hanging around forever (the Pens first signed him in September 2017), yet he only just turned 22 years old. His career has already gone through highs and lows.
As he said in the WBS Penguins link, “For me, it’s always the same thing, I’m always trying to get faster and continue to get stronger. I’ll work on some mobility and everything like that, and just try to do all the work on and off the ice to be prepared for next season.”
Bellerive getting faster and growing his all-around game will be a fun development. As mentioned above, his AHL scoring has improved drastically and the chippy part of his game has gone up a gear, a great place for him to be might on the Casey Cizikas type of path for a smaller but responsible center who is capable of producing a bit and getting under the opposition’s skin with some energy from a lower line.
Jordy Bellerive’s brief career has already shown a lot of resiliency going from being undrafted to a star junior player, to the big fall of his fire accident and a difficult first pro season in 2019-20. Even with the COVID difficulties of the last 18 months, he’s found a way to take strides and individually develop and mold his game. Now we’ll see what he’s got in store for the next steps, but if we’ve learned anything from the past few years, Bellerive can be an exciting player and isn’t one to write off or totally forget about. Especially for a team like Pittsburgh that isn’t that deep at center when they have the recovery of Evgeni Malkin looming this fall.
Bellerive has always found a way to push forward and make the most of any situation, and if he can build in 2021-22 as he has over his last 50ish AHL games, he could be starting to push his way onto the fringes of earning a chance to play in the NHL.