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What Kevin Bahl brings to the Calgary Flames

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Photo credit:Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Stevenson
1 month ago
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Instead if having another off-season UFA problem hanging over his head Calgary Flames general manager Craig Conroy got the off-season started early trading Jacob Markstrom to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for a 2025 1st round pick (lottery protected) and defenceman Kevin Bahl.
At first glance it may look like Bahl was a light throw-in, but after a full year of NHL service evidence shows he can be much more than that.

Offence

Lets just call a spade a spade right off the bat. Kevin Bahl – the 6′ 6″ and 220 lbs player – is a defensive defenceman.
His contributions in the offensive zone were not good. For that to occur on a New Jersey team with several top notch players and a superstar in Jack Hughes it does lead one to an area of skepticism, but it also isn’t the main reason you have the young man in your lineup.
At just 23 years old there is still plenty of time to let Bahl grow – but this level of negative impact is quite the detriment for a team in Calgary that needs more of an offensive jolt than anything that actively hurts it.
On New Jersey this past season Bahl’s offensive contributions were second last on the team via Evolving-Hockey.com’s xGAR (expected goals above replacement) tables under the section where the isolate just the offensive contributions of the player.
So he has things to work on, don’t we all though? The Flames coaching staff has plenty of experience in specifically being the coaches in charge of the defence during their NHL tenures. It’s reasonable to say once they start working with Bahl these attributes could get better, and significantly. Besides, he wouldn’t spend the whole season in the NHL if he was hurting the team that much – which brings us to the positive side of the conversation.

Defence

Kevin Bahl is a shot suppression machine. He may have struggled on offence but when he was deployed the other team could hardly gain any traction.
You will not find anything from the middle of the ice while Bahl is out there – he is going to be Dustin Wolf’s new best friend. He also has a proficient rating via the same Evolving-Hockey tables in both shorthanded impact while also leading the Devils – by a significant margin – in overall defensive impact.
Calgary is getting a shot blocking, penalty killing, third pair defenceman that will do everything in his power to prevent the other team from scoring. It lead to a pretty high penalty differential last season, which will need sorted out, but based on his proficiency and his size he is certainly someone you want to work with at the NHL level.

Final thoughts

I believe Bahl can be an everyday contributor for the Flames right away. He does get in the way of younger players that employ a similar style to himself (Solovyov, Grushnikov), but Calgary isn’t going to gift anybody spots during this retooling cycle either. Bahl has a full season of experience where he was a net positive asset to his team. He certainly has the inside track for a spot in Calgary’s top 6 and is going to be a good motivator to create some competition at camp.

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