Kevin Bahl is a giant man however his observations concerning the small particulars in his rookie skilled season are attention-grabbing.
“I feel we’re on the verge of dominating groups,” mentioned the 6’6″ Binghamton Devils defenseman. “With COVID and all the things, issues have been up and down. We’re additionally a very younger crew (so) it has taken a while (to study). We have now a novel system however we’re shut.”
Bahl’s story wants no introduction for many Devils followers. He was dealt to the group as a part of the Taylor Corridor commerce 15 months in the past. Bahl was thought of the important thing piece coming again within the multi-player deal and provided that Corridor was not lengthy faraway from a Hart Trophy season, the expectations that encompass Bahl are comprehensible.
The 20-year-old has probably not had a full alternative to indicate what he can do. Positive, he helped Staff Canada win a World Junior gold medal shortly after the commerce (Ty Smith and Nolan Foote had been additionally members of the match champions) however the world pandemic has thrown conference out the window. The primary disruption was the cancellation of the Canadian Hockey League season and playoffs that disadvantaged Bahl and his top-ranked Ottawa 67’s an opportunity to make a protracted post-season run.
“It nonetheless appears unusual,” remembers Bahl, who, together with fellow Devils prospects Graeme Clarke, Mitchell Hoelscher, and Nikita Okhotyuk had helped the 67’s make the Ontario Hockey League remaining in 2018-19.
“Particularly being on the World Junior, the place we had been listening to rumors about this coronavirus factor, we could not have imagined (what would occur) after.”
A yr later, it is now mid-March and Bahl has simply 10 skilled video games to his credit score. On prime of that, a shortened coaching camp and strict laws that govern play have critically restricted Bahl’s publicity.
If the world had been regular proper now, coaching camp would have began in September and Bahl would have gotten a protracted look that included a number of exhibition video games for coaches, administration, and followers alike to see the large fella up shut.
As an alternative, he got here to New Jersey in December, waited out quarantine, participated within the abbreviated coaching camp, after which reported to the B-Devils, who’re taking part in out of the coaching facility in Newark.
He is now settled into a special resort in West Orange and although he is snug, he makes no bones about how a lot of a grind the routine may be with little to do however go to the rink.
“I’ve a pleasant place right here, it is like an govt suite,” mentioned Bahl.
How does he go the downtime?
“Numerous Netflix and PS4,” he mentioned.
On the ice, Bahl has an help because the membership has struggled to a 2-5-2-1 report forward of Wednesday’s tilt in opposition to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
Factors are good however they will doubtless by no means outline Bahl in his journey to get to the NHL, or his price as soon as he will get there. His upside is as a shutdown second-pair defender, or as a gentle third-pair man with a capability to maneuver up if required.
“The AHL is one other degree for positive,” mentioned Bahl. “Each participant right here has nice hockey sense, no person cheats (with out the puck). That is the sport (in professional hockey), you simply try to grind the opposite crew down.”
After all, grinding the opposition down is simpler while you’re nearly a head taller than opposing forwards. The guide on Bahl was that he has at all times moved properly for a participant of his measurement however that generally his motion was extra mechanical than instinctual. He made strides in that regard in his remaining season of junior and he says he feels just like the development has continued with Binghamton. One other attention-grabbing component to Bahl’s growth is that he solely not too long ago stopped rising. He sprouted up nearly three inches after his rookie season with the 67’s.
“We do testing for issues like that, foot explosion,” he mentioned, “And I am popping out as one of many quickest guys in order that’s good…I simply need to stick with it.”
Bahl appears content material, if not precisely glad. After struggling by means of eight months of no aggressive hockey, he is wanting ahead to what the subsequent couple of months convey. The newest week-long shutdown the B-Devils went by means of got here when a recreation in opposition to the Phantoms needed to be stopped after one interval.
That solely appeared to sharpen Bahl’s need to soldier on.
“Proper now, I do not even wish to take into consideration the low season, I simply had eight months off,” he mentioned.
By the spartan existence, Bahl did not too long ago obtain a pleasant bit of reports: his youthful sister Kristina, who simply completed her first season with the St. Lawrence College ladies’s crew, was not too long ago named to the convention rookie all-star crew.
Large brother was gushing describing his sibling, who is 2 years his junior (and 10 inches shorter).
“It’s important to see her, she has bought nice palms, abilities,” he mentioned, “The issues she will do with the puck are superb.”