New Jersey Devils: Kevin Bahl Gets His First Look Tonight

Kevin Bahl #88 of the Ottawa 67's. (Photo by Chris Tanouye/Getty Images)
Kevin Bahl #88 of the Ottawa 67's. (Photo by Chris Tanouye/Getty Images) /

The New Jersey Devils are finally giving one of the young defensemen who have spent most of the season in Binghamton (which is actually still in Newark) a chance to make a name for themselves in the NHL. Kevin Bahl is confirmed in the lineup tonight, someone who was a centerpiece to the Taylor Hall trade last season. Reports out of Arizona were the Devils wouldn’t budge on a trade until the 6’6 blueliner was added to the trade.

Bahl was playing for the Ottawa 67’s last season, so the Devils got a really good look at him. Not only did the Devils have prospects Graeme Clarke, Nikita Okhotyuk, and Mitchell Hoelscher on the team, but they needed to scout Marco Rossi and Jack Quinn ahead of the NHL Draft. During that process, they were probably enamored with the look and play of Bahl.

The Devils do need more grit on the defensive side. When looking at the future of the blue line, most of the defensemen have an offensive mindset. Reilly Walsh, Ty Smith, Damon Severson, and Will Butcher are the young players who will likely play in the NHL over the next few seasons (barring trades and expansion draft nonsense). All of them prefer offense over defense.

Bahl is different. If he scored zero points for the entire season, he’d still consider it a win if he kept the puck out of the net. It’s the type of presence the Devils have been hoping for over the past few years. Who has been the best Devils defenseman when it comes to actual defense? It definitely hasn’t been Severson or P.K. Subban. It might be Dmitry Kulikov this year and Mirco Mueller last year, which says so much more about the Devils than it does about those players.

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Bahl is probably going into the lineup too soon when it comes to traditional development, but this isn’t a traditional year. Bahl will be the seventh player this season to make his NHL debut for the Devils. He slots in thanks to an injury to Matt Tennyson. This gives Devils fans a reason to tune in just to see if Bahl can knock someone on their behind against the Philadelphia Flyers.