Bell’s ringing in Ottawa

By Stephen J. Holodinsky

If there is one thing that stands out about Brendan Bell it is his skating ability. He “has a powerful stride (and is) able to catch up on opposing breaking players” and is lateral movement “very good, probably his forte.” He goes on to say that “Bell’s defensive positioning is key to his defensive success and uses his exceptional side-to-side movement to block out opposition players.”

However, there is more to the Leaf’s 3rd round pick than that. Bell also comes with a burgeoning transition game included. His first pass is almost always a safe one by choice which is a comfort to a good many coaches who more often than not have to try to hammer that point home. While Dole points out that “(he) might need to become increasingly aggressive to create more offense,” he also goes on to say that Bell is “very good as the trailer (and his) puck control allows for few turnovers in the neutral zone.”

The rearguard while possessing a great slapshot and wristshot from the point “might need to shoot more” according to Dole who explains that “a typical Brendan Bell shot is a low wrister through traffic (which is) very effective in terms of tips.” As for his puck control once in the offensive zone this and stopping it from getting out over the blueline are again marked as strengths and part of what the writer terms “great offensive instincts and anticipation.”

Be that as it may, there are things that the blueliner can improve on. While “his ability to read plays quickly allows him to position himself and find loose pucks” helps him out in front of the net, the corners are a different story. Here 6’1″ 195 pounder “Needs to improve his overall strength to battle bigger, tougher opponents. (He) gets knocked off his feet once in a while, but can stick like a glue if truly determined.” Dole also admits that his intensity can sometimes be lacking when it is time for someone to step up and take over late in a game.

That said, Ottawa Coach and GM Brian Kilrea comments that “He’s still got 2 years before (making the jump) and those 2 years will be crucial to improve on physical strength and put together the physical abilities as well.” By no means is Bell the complete package yet, but the Leafs have got to like what they have for a starting point.

Jake Dole contributed to this article.