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PensBurgh Top 25 Under 25: #17 - Isaac Belliveau

The left-handed offensive defenseman continued to progress through his junior career.

Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

2021 fifth-round draft selection, Isaac Belliveau, returns to the countdown for the second year in a row.

Related: 2022 Pensburgh Top 25 Under 25: Graduates and Departed

#25: Nolan Collins
#24: Colin Swoyer
#23: Jonathan Gruden
#22: Ty Glover
#21: Kirill Tankov
#20: Judd Caulfield
#19 Corey Andonovski
#18: Jordan Frasca

#17: Isaac Belliveau

2021 Ranking: 10

Age: 19 (November 26, 2002)

Height/Weight: 6’2”/185 lbs.

Acquired Via: 2021 NHL Draft - Round 5 - Pick 154

It wasn’t that long ago when we were saying things like: “The Penguins don’t have enough defensemen!” Now, they’re flush with players on the back end, specifically on the left side. That’s not the best news to hear if you’re Isaac Belliveau.

The 19-year-old recently completed his third year in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, taking a bit of a step back in terms of offensive production. His best season to date came in 2019-2020 while playing with Rimouski Océanic (Sidney Crosby’s junior team). There, the Quebec native put up 11 goals and 53 points in 62 games.

Since the 2020-21 season, Belliveau has played with Gatineau Olympiques and has seen a drop in his play as a result. In the first 21 games with his new club, he notched a very impressive 12 points in 21 games.

The 2021-22 season was a different story, however. Belliveau couldn’t replicate his offensive success with his new squad. 10 goals and 38 points in 67 games played while playing against younger talent isn’t the most promising sign. But playing devil’s advocate, as a defenseman, his primary function isn’t to put the puck in the net.

Here’s what DobberProspects had to say following Belliveau’s up-and-down 2021-22:

May 2022 – The Quebec-born defenseman showed a lot of improvement in his DY+2, but still failed to replicate the incredible offensive totals he posted in his DY-1. He was always going to be a project of a prospect due to his poor transition game and penchant for a gaffe. The Pens will likely be happy about the strides he took forward as an all-situations defenseman and leader this season. Still, another season of junior where he can dominate would boost his confidence and allow him to learn from his mistakes in a low-pressure environment. The Olympiques have a good young team with top prospects Zach Dean and Tristan Luneau, and Belliveau would be a candidate for captain. At 6-foot-2, 185 pounds, he possesses a pro frame and solid puck and distribution skills. If he can become an NHL defenseman, it should be viewed as a massive win for the Pens development team. -Kyle Watson

When he was drafted by the organization last summer, Hooks closed out his draft write-up with this:

Belliveau is a great puck handler and power play quarterback. He’s a skilled defenseman that’s in the Keith Yandle mold a little bit as far as the style of play. He’s also already got pretty good size. The Pens will be watching to see how his defensive game rounds out as he develops from being a mid-round pick.

Once considered a first-round talent alongside his high-profile teammate, Alexis Lafreniere, Belliveau now resides on a bit of a slippery slope as far as his development is concerned. He’s got the size, mobility, and offensive upside that you like to see in many modern-day NHL defensemen.

The question now becomes: how much has this player progressed heading into what looks to be his final junior season? Has he rounded out the defensive aspects of his game to a point where those in the Penguins’ organization believe he’s worth an entry-level contract? Can his point totals increase in the offensive-friendly confines of the QMJHL, playing against younger players?

We’ll wait to see what 2022-23 has in store for the blue liner.