Kevin Labanc, LW
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY, USA
Drafted: 6th round 2014 (171st overall)
October 2017 – Kevin Labanc stayed in San Jose over the summer working out with the team trainer and the many Sharks’ players that live in the Bay Area year round. On the outside looking in for a San Jose roster spot, all Labanc has been the most impressive San Jose forward so far this season with three goals to lead the team and adding an assist as well. Most impressive is the improvement to the minute details of the NHL game. His puck support is markedly improved as is his compete level for 50/50 pucks and play along the boards. He looks thicker physically, and that will indeed help during the NHL's 82-game grind. All of this has added up to a spot on the top line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski.
Labanc is a mainstay on the second power-play unit, and a lot of the pucks comes through him. While he has made his name as a natural shooter, he does have excellent vision on the ice and ability to make a tough pass through traffic. If he can sustain this level of play, the Sharks could have luckily found a gem in the fifth round of the 2014 draft. Zachary DeVine
May 2017 – The hottest rookie in the first few weeks of the Barracuda season has certainly cooled off. The departure of Nikolay Goldobin to the Vancouver Canucks took away Labanc's skilled setup man and his return to the Barracuda has not looked nearly as deadly as his early season. Labanc has struggled to find a similar partnership from the remaining Barracuda roster. He is too much of a threat with the puck on his stick for the frequent soft passes to no one in particular. It could be something as a confidence issue but Labanc needs to solve it to be a more consistent scoring threat for San Jose. Zachary DeVine
February 2017 – The Sharks continue to turn to Labanc when a young Sharks forward is needed. Of the 10 call-ups from the San Jose Barracuda this year, none have more games (42), goals (7), assists (10). The 17 points are not eye popping, but good enough for 10th in team scoring despite missing 15 NHL games this year.
Recently Labanc has been elevated to the first power play unit with Logan Couture out of the lineup and skating on top line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski. Labanc continues to impress as a 20-year-old rookie and his play away from the puck and defensively. Fights along the boards are not often won, but his willingness to engage in those battles bodes well for the future. He is a depth player this year, but could move permanently up the lineup with a strong showing on The Joes Line. Zachary DeVine
November 2016 – Labanc started the AHL season as part of the hottest lines in the league with a 10-point effort in only a half dozen games. San Jose recalled last season's OHL scoring champ on November 8th and he has been with the big club every sense. Labanc has shown the flashes of ability that made him an OHL star and the quickness he has acclimated to the AHL and then NHL have been brilliant. In nine games in the NHL, Labanc has posted a goal and two assists. During his games with the Sharks, some instances of positioning have had a few lapses, but for a 20-year-old who was in the OHL seven months ago, not unexpected. Labanc has infused a level of talent to the Sharks depth players and been most effective when he's kept his feet moving. The steps Labanc has taken so quickly is impressive and something to monitor as he adjusts to the NHL game. Zachary DeVine
October 2016 – After four games with the San Jose Barracuda, Labanc is the leading scorer with four goals and three assists. Skating on a line with Rourke Chartier and Nikolay Goldobin to form the "Kid Line" as Head Coach Roy Sommer calls them, the quick acclimation from the OHL to AHL is best described as ahead of schedule. Labanc's creativity in the offensive zone has been a catalyst for a faster, more dynamic offense for San Jose. Sommer has said on a few occasions that Labanc has one of the best shots to come through the organization in years, especially considering his age and inexperience at the AHL level. He's quickly inserted himself as a potential call-up during the season for an offensive spark for the Sharks. Zachary Devine
October 2016 – Labanc was one of the last forward sent back to the Barracuda, and he made it as hard as possible for the San Jose Sharks to reach that decision. All throughout the summer, Labanc was a contributor on the top lines and a difference maker on the ice. In preseason NHL matches, the former Barrier Colt was more than comfortable with the increased pace and intensity. While some young players are adapting to the increased talent and speed, Labanc was influencing the game beyond a player who wrapped up his OHL career only a few months ago.
His shot and on-ice vision are among the best in the Sharks prospect pipeline, and the skating has improved during his time with the Colts. Labanc will head down to the Barracuda that suddenly has an impressive array of firepower and will look to get heavy minutes in crucial situations while waiting for a call-up. Zachary DeVine
March 2016 – Labanc has continued his dominant season in the Ontario Hockey League. He currently sits first overall in CHL scoring with 38 goals and 119 points through just 59 games. The deft playmaker has been rewarded with his first professional contract, signing his entry-level deal with the San Jose Sharks on March 9th. Look for the 20year-old centre to start in the AHL next season as he adapts his game to the rigours of professional hockey. Cam Robinson
February 2016 – Labanc has continued to pick apart opposition in the major junior circuit, as he currently leads the OHL in scoring with 90 points in a mere 47 games. Labanc is an elite playmaker at this level and poses a threat to produce whenever he steps on the ice. His exquisite passing game is becoming even more effective as he continues to work on his goal scoring ability; as witnessed by his 29 goals on the year, two shy of his previous career high in 21 less games. Look for Labanc to turn pro after this season and challenge for a top six job with the AHL Barracuda in 2016-17. Cam Robinson
January 2016 – Labanc has been lighting the world on fire of late. He is riding a six-game point streak in which has has scored 10 goals and 22 points, highlighted by a seven-point night (three goals, four assists) Jan. 2 and a six-point game (three goals, three assists) Jan. 7. Labanc has won back-to-back Player of the Week honours and leads the OHL in scoring with 69 points in 35 games. This Sharks' sixth-rounder is making the scouting department look very good. Cam Robinson
November, 2015 – Labanc was named the OHL and CHL Player of the Week after he recorded nine points in three games for the Barrie Colts. The week was highlighted by a five-point effort (one goal, four assists) against the Sudbury Wolves. The former sixth round pick has 15 points in 10 games so far this season, and is looking to build off the monster 107 point effort from 2014-15. Cam Robinson
August 2015 – Kevin Lebanc finished his second season with the Barrie Colts in fantastic fashion. He shattered his previous years point total (35) by more than 70 points, finishing with 31 goals and 107 points in 68 games for the OHL squad. The former sixth round pick has shot up the organization’s prospect charts and will look to display some of the newly found offence at training camp this fall. Look for Labanc to be back in Barrie for the 2015-16 season to build strength and continue to improve his all around game. Cameron Robinson
February 2015 – Labanc is developing wonderfully under Barrie's Head Coach Dale Hawerchuk. With the team's two top scorers from 2013-14 gone, along with Florida star rookie Aaron Ekblad, the Colts had to turn to someone else. Labanc has filled the void, already more than doubling last season's point total and has gone from ninth on the team in scoring, to fourth in the entire league. The Sharks have done it again. Another late-round gem. Labanc has scoring-line potential and he also plays with a bit of grit. Dobber
Fantasy Outlook: B+
The NHL is moving to skilled players on the third and fourth line. Labanc looks to be proving he belongs.
Beauty shootout goal:
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