Weight: 231 pounds
Date of birth: June 27, 2000
Hometown: Mississauga, Ontario
OHL Draft: Round 2, 31st overall, 2016 Priority Selection
NHL Central Scouting pre-season: B Prospect
NHL Central Scouting mid-term: 30th North American skaters
NHL Central Scouting final rank: Not available at this time.
There is something to be said about a 6’6” and 230-pound defenceman that can skate. And that brings us to the Ottawa 67’s towering blueliner Kevin Bahl.
Bahl played his minor midget hockey for the Toronto Marlboros during the 2015-2016 season in which he scored 9 goals and added 27 assists in 56 games. He’s played at the OHL Cup twice. His first appearance was 2 games during the 2014-2015 season winning gold but was held pointless in those two games.
Bahl made his second appearance during the 2015-2016 season, this time capturing silver. In 7 games he scored once and added an assist. He also represented Team GTHL at the OHL Gold Cup, helping them win the championship and providing the team with 3 helpers in 5 games.
At the time of his OHL draft, Bahl measured in at 6’4” and tipped the scales at 210 pounds. The scouting report from OHL Central Scouting read as follows:
“Kevin is one of the Marlboros’ go-to guys on the back end, not because he is offensive or flashy, but because he plays a simple and safe game, does a good job of getting the puck to his skilled forwards and is effective on the offensive blue line. He has good mobility and is hard to beat off the rush. He covers a lot of space in the corners and has a very active stick. Kevin is a player that has room to grow and improve over the next couple of seasons.”
The 2016-2017 season saw Bahl get his feet wet in the OHL. He appeared in 57 games for the 67’s and scored once while adding 3 assists. He represented Canada at the World Hockey Challenge Under-17, notching an assist in 5 games.
He began this his draft year, once again representing Canada, this time at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial in August of 2017. He was once again on the winning side as he helped Canada win gold with a goal and an assist in Canada’s 5 tournament games.
So far this season, Bahl has played in 51 games, scoring once and adding 17 assists. The OHL came down hard on Bahl after receiving a match penalty for a hit to the head of Peterborough Petes’ Cole Fraser and was subsequently dealt out a 10-game suspension.
The flavor of the day in the National Hockey League is smaller, skilled and superb skaters. Yours truly is not immune to that. But Bahl has an intriguing set of skills that I am not ready to say “what you see is what you get” with him.
First and foremost, Bahl is an above average skater for a player of his size. He possesses very good mobility with excellent lateral movement, however he lacks top end speed although I wouldn’t say he is slow.
Defensively, Bahl is one of the top, if not the top shutdown defender available for the 2018 draft. Along with good skating abilities, his condor-like reach makes him tough to beat one-on-one. His positioning in almost every situation is excellent. He uses a high level of hockey IQ to anticipate, always be in position, close up lanes and use a very active stick to quash plays.
Bahl uses his size effectively. He doesn’t go out looking for a big hit, but he can close players off along the wall, clear the front of his goal, and win one-on-one battles. He is especially effective on the penalty kill.
Projecting what Bahl could become offensively is the question that needs to be answered. He makes a very good pass, whether its clearing his own zone, or in the offensive zone. He possesses a good shot that is accurate. He doesn’t try to overpower an opposing goaltender with his shot but gets it off more with a purpose.
I am not a big fan of drafting shut-down defenders high in the draft, but I think Bahl has some enticing offensive abilities. He’s a huge minute-munching defender who plays in all situations.