With the 44th pick in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, the Columbus Blue Jackets have selected Luca Del Bel Belluz from the Mississauga Steelheads of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL)
About Luca Del Bel Belluz
This season was an unbelievable success for Luca Del Bel Belluz as he went from a mostly unknown OHL rookie who scored only six points in his first 58 games to an excellent offensive player who led his team in scoring this season with 76 points in 68 games. His high effort level could translate into a complete two-way game, though he will need to grow stronger if he wants to win more puck battles in the defensive zone.
Related: 2022 NHL Draft: Live Tracker
He played his rookie season with the Steelheads in the 2019-20 season and then didn’t play a single competitive game last season as the 2020-21 OHL season never got off the ground. While that time may have taken away a lot of chances for 2022 draft-eligible players to prove themselves, Del Bel Belluz took it as a challenge to prove himself in the final year he had left before entering the draft.
THW Prospect Profile Excerpt
“He can contribute offensively as both a playmaker and a shooter. His tall, slender body frame isn’t perfectly seasoned for the NHL just yet. However, when Mississauga drafted him in 2019, he immediately acknowledged the need to get bigger and stronger to compete at a higher level. His overall improvement this year demonstrates his willingness and motivation to work at his development, a trait that could help him prepare for the NHL after he is drafted.
Related: 2022 NHL Draft Live Tracker
“Del Bel Belluz is a responsible 200-foot center, but his defensive game currently lacks the physicality needed to compete at the NHL level. If he fills out significantly, it could help him make contributions as a two-way center in the most physical league in the world. He has also proven himself capable in the faceoff dot, a trait that many 200-foot NHL centers also keep in their repertoire to add value to their overall game.
“His excellent hands have also helped him compensate for a lack of breakaway speed in the neutral zone. The ability to maintain puck control entering the offensive zone is becoming an even bigger point of emphasis in the NHL in recent seasons, and the ability of Del Bel Belluz to enter with poise and create opportunities as a skillful playmaker will undoubtedly attract NHL general managers in July.”
How This Affects the Blue Jackets’ Plans
Luca Del Bel Belluz joins defenders Denton Mateychuk and David Jiricek who were drafted by the Blue Jackets in the first round. The Blue Jackets now boast enviable center depth in their prospect pool with Cole Sillinger and Kent Johnson being drafted early in last year’s draft. Del Bel Belluz was one of the most improved players this year in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) so he will hope to keep that momentum going as he works toward the NHL.
Logan is a sports writer for the Detroit Red Wings as a member of The Hockey Writers team. He loves reading about statistics and advanced analytics, and discovering how they can enrich his hockey analysis and writing. Logan also writes about more general hockey topics on his blog https://www.crashthecrease.blog.