Kevin Bahl is still not signed to a contract. He was the one restricted free agent still waiting for his final number. Bratt and Meier were priorities, and their contracts were done before the calendar hit July. Meanwhile, the one negotiation still happening is the one with Bahl.
He had his best season last year. He showed he’s a full-time NHL defenseman. There’s a difference between being a full-time NHL defenseman and a full-time NHL defenseman on a Stanley Cup contender. Bahl is looking to replace the minutes Ryan Graves once held, but Luke Hughes is also joining the lineup full-time.
Bahl is trying to show where he fits into the long-term vision. This is a 23-year-old defenseman. He isn’t even close to the final product. It takes most defensemen until they are in their mid-20s to know exactly what they are.
There’s one reason that isn’t the case for Bahl. The Devils are stacked with defensive prospects. Just on the left side, the Devils have Bahl, Hughes, Daniil Orlov, Topias Vilen, Ethan Edwards, Case McCarthy, and Daniil Misyul. That’s incredible competition. Can Bahl stand out? He has to at this point.