Two months ago, Kevin Labanc was the man on the hot seat as San Jose’s top bargaining chip to trade at the NHL Trade Deadline.
Everyone knew Labanc had the potential as a threat to score from all angles. The banker just needed to find his stride.
Fast forward 19 games to end of the season, Labanc tallied six goals and 15 points to reach a career-high 17 goals, 39 assists and 56 points in his third season with the Sharks.
It is safe to say that San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson made the right move to keep the flashy 23-year-old sniper in teal.
With a wicked wrister on the wing and in the high slot, Labanc has cashed in at just the right time alongside the play-making wizardry of Joe Thornton during the final weeks of the playoff push.
Labanc is very important to this team’s future. Not only has he established career totals this season, Labanc has steadily improved his shot accuracy and passing precision, which has led to increased point totals in all three season at the NHL level (20 in 2016-17, 40 in 2017-18, 56 in 2018-2019).
I would not be surprised to see Labanc spending more time on the power play in the playoffs, just like the time he earned setting up Couture with a perfect cross-ice pass for the game-winning goal in double overtime to secure the 4-3 win over the Golden Knights in Game 2 of the Western Conference Second Round.