Kevin Labanc bet on himself this off-season committing to the San Jose Sharks on a one year deal worth 1 million dollar.
San Jose Sharks forward Kevin Labanc is looking to cash in after betting on himself this off-season. Throughout his third season in the NHL, Labanc put up career high numbers in just about every statistical category.
The Staten Island native potted 17 goals and recorded 56 total points riding shotgun alongside Joe Thornton for a large portion of the regular season at 5v5. Labanc really caught fire towards the end of the 2018 – 2019 campaign scoring at a 0.8 goals per game pace in his final 20 contests.
Later in the year Labanc solidified his place in place in San Jose Sharks history by being one of the catalyst for Team Teal’s miraculous come-back in Game 7 against the Vegas Golden Knights.
After all the heroics and the significant strides the 23-year-old made in his overall game last season, there was some confusion following the announcement of Labanc’s one year extension. However once the dust settled and got a look at the bigger picture you could see that Labanc is putting the team’s current success on the forefront, potentially sacrificing some of his future earning power as a professional hockey player.
It’s a bold move by Labanc but he obviously feels like he is a ways away from his overall ceiling as a skater in this league. And with the departure of Joe Pavelski, Labanc now can garner huge minutes and other on ice responsibilities considering he is now the best option at right-wing on this roster.
"“I saw the guys that were leaving (San Jose) … so I knew there’d be more ice time for myself,” Labanc said. “At the same time I knew that the team’s (NHL salary) cap was really tight. I didn’t want to take away most of that cap (space) and lose one or two guys that could potentially be on the team, that Doug Wilson would want. We have a great team, a good Stanley Cup contender this year again. I’m betting on myself right now. I know I’m going to put the boots on and go to work.”"
This was a very selfless act by Kevin Labanc and it will definitely go a long way in the locker room among his teams but most importantly up through the front office. This sacrifice should go a long way when it comes to negotiating his new contract next summer.
Labanc will be entering another off-season of restricted free agency but it seems that he’s banking on playing well enough to earn a contract similar to the ones Tomas Hertl and Timo Meier have signed during the previous two off-seasons.
Nevertheless, there will be ample opportunity for Labanc to make his case for a substantial pay increase. Last season the dynamic forward clocked 14:01 in average time on ice. But in 2019 – 2020 he should see a significant boost in minutes playing with new line mates at 5v5. Not to mention the new on ice responsibilities on the defensive end and a chance at a prominent role on the 1st unit power play. All of these factors will play a key part in Team Teal’s overall offensive output next season.
For now it appears that both Labanc and the San Jose Sharks are fairly confident in the 2014 6th round pick’s abilities as a hockey player. So it shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone if Labanc pushes his point totals into the 70’s and eclipses the 25 goal mark.
Following what was a confusing stretch of time following the Labanc extension it’s good to have some clarity around what his thought process was behind signing the very team friendly deal. San Jose will be relying heavily on 4th year pro to help off-set the loss of Pavelski. The better he plays this year the more valuable he’ll be to a Sharks organization trying to perpetual stay in contention for the Stanley Cup.