NHL free agency 2019: Sharks hold onto rising forward Kevin Labanc
The San Jose Sharks know they have a rising top player in Kevin Labanc, and they’ll hang onto him for at least one more year as they signed him to a one-year extension on Monday.
Labanc, 23, had a strong showing for the Sharks this season, putting up a career-high 17 goals and 56 points (20 of them coming on the power play) in the final year of his entry-level contract. He has continued to improve on his numbers each season he’s been in the NHL; he had 20 points in his rookie season and doubled that point total in 2017-18 before finally hitting the 50-point mark in the 2018-19 campaign.
“Kevin took a big step forward in his production last season and has grown into an important part of our team here in San Jose,” general manager Doug Wilson said in the signing announcement. “He’s always had a dangerous shot but really stepped into a playmaking role for us last season and improved his 200-foot game as well. We think he still has even more potential to tap into and we’re excited to see what he can do with an elevated role with this talented group.”
NHL free agency tracker: Complete list of all 31 teams’ UFAs and RFAs
The Staten Island, New York, native was also instrumental in San Jose’s run to the Western Conference Final; his most notable performance came in the team’s Game 7 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights, when he assisted on all three of the Sharks’ third-period power-play goals and scored the go-ahead power-play tally during a five minute major penalty on Cody Eakin.
In 214 career games with the Sharks, Labanc has recorded 116 points.
After losing Joe Pavelski, Joonas Donskoi and Gustav Nyquist to the free agency market, San Jose will likely see Labanc step into a bigger role this season as the top-line right wing alongside Logan Couture and Timo Meier.
Given his speed, skating and scoring sense, Labanc will likely continue to thrive and improve on his numbers with more ice time, as he’s proven to be a consistent scorer still in the prime of his career.
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