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NHL Draft

2018 Draft diary: Kevin Bahl

OHL defenseman, projected second-round pick, discusses Canada Russia Series, goals for next part of season

by Kevin Bahl / Special to NHL.com

Defenseman Kevin Bahl (6-foot-6, 231 pounds) of Ottawa in the Ontario Hockey League received a B rating on NHL Central Scouting's preliminary players to watch list and is a projected second-round candidate for the 2018 NHL Draft. Bahl has nine assists, 15 shots on goal, and 44 penalty minutes in 21 games. He had two points (one goal, one assist) in five games to help Canada win the gold medal with Canada at the 2017 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup. The left-handed shot has offered to maintain a draft diary for NHL.com, leading up to the 2018 NHL Draft at American Airlines Center in Dallas on June 22-23. In his second entry, Bahl talks about playing for the OHL against Russia in the 2017 Canada Russia Series on Nov. 13 and some upcoming games for Ottawa.

 

Hi hockey fans.

Having the opportunity to represent the Ontario Hockey League in the Canada Russia Series was a huge honor because I was the youngest player on the roster. I went in there with the idea of not wanting to play too aggressive or too offensive. I just wanted to go in there and play my role, play the solid game the way everyone knows I can.

I might have psyched myself out a little bit because I was focusing on other details instead of just playing my game at the outset, but I ended up getting better as the game went on, and scoring a goal was great. I had an opportunity, got a shot through and it was a short-side goal (in the third period of a 4-2 win). It was a great feeling. The funny thing is I don't even have a goal with Ottawa in the regular season, but I scored in this game.

My family was sitting three rows behind the bench so after my first shift I looked up and saw them right away and that was awesome. After the game we went out to dinner, so that was nice too.

The thing with games like this is I'm playing with a lot of guys that usually I play against. Sarnia's Jordan Kyrou (St. Louis Blues) is a player I'd be up against almost every shift when he gets on the ice, and now he's on my team. Peterborough's Jonathan Ang (Florida Panthers) and Sault Ste. Marie's Boris Katchouk (Tampa Bay Lightning) are also really gifted players. They're all so good at dominating down low and possessing the puck, so it was cool to be playing with them instead of defending them.

I was paired with Sean Durzi of Owen Sound for two periods and then with Evan Bouchard of London in the third period. Durzi is an aggressive-style player and he likes to rush pucks up ice so I'd be carrying the puck and see him flying ahead of me and I'm like, "Holy cow." He's really gifted in terms of puck ability, speed and agility. I felt like we worked well together because I'm more of a stay-at-home player and he really likes to move the puck, and is two years older, so I learned a bit from him on how to pitch in offensively and look for plays.

It was also cool playing with Bouchard. I can see why he's also a highly sought-after prospect in this draft class. He moves the puck really efficiently and you can see he's developing really well.

We're tied for second place in the East Division right now (25 points in 21 games) but we have big games coming up against Hamilton on Saturday and Kingston on Sunday. Hamilton is one point ahead of us and Kingston is two points behind us. I find that when we play those big teams, our team is really focused and we perform well. We'll need a big effort.

It's been a bit frustrating knowing I haven't yet scored a goal this season. I want to get more shots on net. At this point I wanted to at least have 30 shots. I want to increase that and hopefully average at least two shots a game the rest of the way. I want to jump into seams and get more chances.

Thanks for reading, and I'll be back next month with more.

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