Kevin Bahl returns for his third season on the blue line for the Ottawa 67’s after an eventful summer being chosen by the Arizona Coyotes in June’s second round then representing Canada at the World Junior Showcase.
The Mississauga native is one of the league’s towering presences at 6’6” and 236 lbs producing 18 points in 58 games last season.
Bahl took time during 67’s Training Camp to answer some questions and share his outlook on the season ahead.
Back for a third season in Ottawa, are you finally starting to feel like one of the veterans?
“Oh yeah, definitely. Each year you come back you get a little bit more experience. Leaving last year you just know what you’ve got to work on in the summer. How you can better, how you can get the team to perform better if that’s leading by example or if that’s just individual effort. Every year you just get more experience and you just come back with a bigger leadership role on the team.”
What was it like hearing your name called by Arizona on draft day and attending your first NHL development camp?
“Getting your name called after hearing a lot of those picks go by is something special. Your mind goes blank. Nothing can get you ready for it. You don’t ever know when you’re going in the draft so it’s something special for sure. Going to my first development camp was also amazing. You go there and get a lot more experience from a lot of those older players, figure out what you’ve got to be working on, and the coaches give you feedback, so it was definitely an amazing experience going down to Arizona.”
What are some of your personal goals for the season?
“One thing that’s just been lingering in my head is not getting by that first round. The big thing for me is I want to go past that first round and really make a dent in the playoffs this year. We’ve got a really good defense corps, we’ve got a lot of young forwards this year, we’ve just got a great team. The atmosphere and the leadership we’ve got on this team with older guys like Felly (Tye Felhaber) coming back for an OA year. All the boys love him and he’s a great leader in the room so I mean we’ve got a lot of experience this year and we’ve got a really good chance this year to go far.”
How exciting is it to be part of what could be one of the strongest defensive units in the league?
“It’s really special. All the D take pride in what we’ve got going on here. We’ve got a lot of great D and we’re just one year older, one year better, one year more experienced. It’s huge. We’ve got the ability to really lead by example this year and really make a dent in the standings.”
The 67’s finished in 7th place your first year, 8th place last season, but have a solid core of returning players. What is your outlook for the season and what will the team need to do to be successful?
“Definitely for this year we’ve got a great group of returning players. Again, we’re one year older, one year better, one year more experienced. Last year we were recognized more as a young team and this year coming up we’re going to be recognized as one of the teams getting to that older stage getting ready to make a run for it. We’ve definitely got something special here.”
This month ontariohockeyleague.com will feature one team each day in advance of the 2018-19 season which begins Wednesday September 19th. See more from the OHL 20 in 20 series.