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Pens sign defender Isaac Belliveau to entry level contract

The 2021 fifth round pick will turn pro full-time in 2023-24

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NHL: SEP 25 Blue Jackets at Penguins Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

As of March 1st, NHL teams can start signing players to contracts to begin next season for 2023-24. The Pittsburgh Penguins wasted little time getting one such contract taken care of, inking their fifth round pick from the 2021 draft to just such a contract.

From the team:

The Pittsburgh Penguins have signed defenseman Isaac Belliveau to a three-year, entry-level contract, it was announced today by general manager Ron Hextall.

Belliveau’s entry-level contract will begin in the 2023-24 season and run through 2025-26.

Belliveau, 20, is in his fourth season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and has recorded 10 goals, 30 assists and 40 points in 44 games with the Gatineau Olympiques. His goal, assist and point totals all rank second among team defensemen, while his 30 assists and 40 points are the fourth and sixth most, respectively, among all Olympiques.

Gatineau’s alternate captain is averaging 0.91 points per game, which is the highest of his career and the eighth highest among all QMJHL defensemen this season. His 10 goals are the ninth most in the league among defensemen, while his assist and point totals rank 13th and 12th in the league among all blueliners, respectively.

In four seasons in the QMJHL, split between Rimouski Oceanic (2019-20) and Gatineau (‘20-23), Belliveau has recorded 36 goals, 113 assists and 149 points in 211 career games. He was named to the QMJHL’s All-Rookie Team in 2019-20 after leading all rookies with 42 assists and ranking second in the league among defensemen in assists and points (53).

The 6-foot-2, 185-pound defenseman has also played in 12 playoff games, recording three goals, two assists and five points.

Belliveau was ranked 17th last summer in the 2022 PensBurgh Top 25 Under 25.

Here was what we wrote for his mid-season update a few weeks ago:

Scott Wheeler at The Athletic said, “He sees through pressure well when he looks to move the puck, and makes sound, calculated choices in distribution”. Belliveau can be weak on the rush and moving backwards, but has become one of the better defenders in the Q with the puck on his stick and creating offense.

Belliveau has good size, moves well and is strong with moving the puck. All are great traits to have in the modern game. Away from the puck, he could use some work and development and he’ll get the chance to do so as a full-time pro next season.

The Pens have three more prospects they drafted that they either must sign soon or who will become NHL free agents. They are defenders Ryan McCleary and Santeri Airola who become free agents on June 1st. Forward Judd Caulfield could become a free agent on August 15th, however due to the NCAA’s policy on an extra year of eligibility over COVID, Caulfield has the option to stay in college for another year and that would extend his timeline with the Penguins holding his rights through August 2024, if he goes that route.