RFA Kevin Labanc has re-signed with the San Jose Sharks for four years, $18.9 million dollars. That’s a 4.725 million dollar cap it.
Both Labanc and San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson held media availability this afternoon. Here are some highlights from their pressers.
Labanc, on his 2019-20 campaign:
It wasn’t my best year. But I know I’m a top-six forward in this league. I know I can produce. I know I can be reliable defensively. I know it didn’t show last season.
But this off-season, I’ve been putting in the time and the effort. I feel more than ready to be putting in the minutes [next year], scoring goals, being good on my own end.
We’ve got a great team. I’ve been skating the past couple weeks with Cooch and Tommy. Just starting that chemistry. And more guys are going to start coming. I’m excited for next year. I’m excited to see what this team can do.
Labanc, on if this contract is more of a reflection of his breakout 56-point 2018-19 season and not this year:
I gambled on myself. It wasn’t the best year as a team and as a whole.
It was tough coming to the rink everyday. But this upcoming year, it’ll be a different year. Everybody’s going to be on the same page. Everyone’s going to be hungry.
It has nothing to do with 2018-19. I know I’m a top-six forward. I know I can produce and be a good player. Help this team out and help this team reach new heights this upcoming year.
Labanc, on how his contract is connected with an increased leadership role on the team:
It comes with some pressure. But I look at pressure as a privilege. You work your whole life to get this point in your career. The best way to handle pressure is by attacking it. That’s what I plan on doing this season. And that’s what the team, as a whole, is going to attack this season. I’m excited for it.
Labanc, on his first big purchase with his first big contract:
I don’t know. (laughs) I’ll probably get a house. Pretty vanilla. Somewhere in San Jose. Having a house out here, you can’t complain. Great weather all year round. That’s probably what the purchase will be.
— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) October 10, 2020
Wilson, on what gives him confidence that Labanc will rebound after a tough season:
It’s experiential learning. You learn sometimes more during tough times.
But it’s extremely rare in this league to have a 23-year-old kid score 56 points like he did. So we know the skill-set that he has. We all got to see his playoff performance.
What’s important here is he has ingredients and a skill-set that are so important in today’s game. Not just 5-on-5, but also on the power play.
We had a bunch of players, high-end players in this league, who tried to do too that much. You have to stick to the plan and the program. You learn from [this].
He’s only 24. We made sure to structure this contract so he grows into it.
But there’s no doubt in our mind that he’s a 60-point guy going forward. 60-point plus guy going forward for the next four years.
That’s what makes this deal, to me, very fair.
Wilson, on how Labanc improves his two-way play and how he fits into Bob Boughner’s plans:
You just look around the league — having sat with our coaches — and they’re pretty excited to do some things on the power play, do some things at 5-on-5, that falls right into his wheelhouse.
The fact that he came back early — he’s been training his butt off — shows where he’s at. He wants to be a great player. He’s already shown in this league, full year, 56 points, great playoff moment. Now, when he stumbled a little bit — as a team — you press a little bit, how do you respond? He’s responded the right way.
We’re excited to have he, Timo Meier, Tommy Hertl really step to the next level and help carry this team with the other veteran players.
He’s a good kid. We know him better than anybody. He led the OHL in scoring. He’s a kid who responds when he falls and skins his knees a little bit.
This deal is about going forward. Yes, we’ve seen what he can do. This deal is about the ingredients he has going forward. We’re excited for him.
I talked to Bob and our coaches. They know that he has exactly the ingredients that we’re looking for. Again, last year, we had too many players trying to do too much. What happens when you’re trying to do too much, it comes from a good place, but you get away from the details.
He’s shown [the details though]. He’ll hunt down pucks. His skill-set, seeing the ice, making plays, is incredible. Not just the power play performance in the Vegas game, but you watch the plays that he can see. You tie that into opening up our style of play with the activation of Karlsson and Burns. You’re going to see us play a more attacking style that fits right into his wheelhouse.
If I’m going to try to acquire players like Banker, those are the ingredients I’m looking for.
Wilson, on journey from Labanc’s record-setting low contract last summer to four-year deal today:
His agent Michael Curran and Joe Will spent a lot of time talking about where we’re going as a team. Where Kevin is going.
When you’ve got a 56-point season on your resume as a 23-year-old, that travels with you. There’s players who just signed recently that scored one goal last year, signed long-term contracts.
It’s about where you’re going to. This is forecasting Kevin Labanc to be a 60-point scorer for the next four years. That’s where the market is, that’s what the value is.
We know that he’s not only done it, but we think that he’s going to fit so well with how we want to play, how we want to attack on the power play.
Having long talks with Boogie, he’s a big believer in Banker, as we are.
Wilson, on if this contract is a “thanks” for Labanc doing the team a “big favor” with his below-contract last summer:
It’s not a thanks. We did the same thing with Chris Tierney. You want players to understand how the system works.
You remember [what Kevin signed last summer]? Of course you do.
We’ve done bridge deals over the years with a lot of our young players coming through the system.
But that comes down the point of, you’ve accomplished this. You had that 56-point season. You had that power play and playoff experience. Now, you have to negotiate a contract going forward.
It’s no different than looking for a player from another team. You’re looking for these exact ingredients. You know what the marketplace is. It is what it is. Finding those players is really difficult. Finding right-hand shot guys with those skill-sets is one of the most sought-after things in this game right now.
The fact that we know the player, we know what his work ethic is, and how much he cares…we’ve very comfortable projecting him to be that 60-point guy, potentially giving us the ability to have what we think could be the best power play in hockey. We have the ingredients. We now have to approach it with a structure that both Rocky and Boogie are working on.
USNTDP coach Nick Fohr on Bordeleau’s Hockey IQ, Chmelevski’s Skating, Labanc’s Confidence
It’s Thomas Bordeleau Week here at San Jose Hockey Now!
Today, Sheng Peng joined the podcast, and we really got into detail on Bordeleau with his former USA Hockey National Team Development Program coach Nick Fohr.
Bordeleau isn’t the first San Jose Sharks prospect that Fohr has coached — the current USNTDP Associate Coach has worked with Kevin Labanc, Scott Reedy, and Sasha Chmelevski.
Here’s a select transcription from this fun, informative interview — Fohr shares Bordeleau’s greatest strengths and weaknesses, discusses Chmelevski’s flawed-but- improving skating, and reveals what Labanc’s USNTDP teammates gave him a hard time about.
Nick Fohr, on Thomas Bordeleau’s greatest strength and weakness:
In Thomas’s case, he’s a very crafty, skilled forward that competes pretty hard. That was something he really improved on in the two years with us.
He really loves to rely on this skill.
He’s a cerebral player. He really takes in the game. He reads plays well up and down the ice sheet.
That being a strength of his, one of his weaknesses, he relies on his skill too much. That was something we talked with Thomas a lot: Although you are a skilled hockey player, you are not skilled enough to make it in the NHL on skill alone. You have to develop a little more bite, a little more aggressiveness. You gotta round your game out a little bit more defensively. Commit to those things and not rely on just being a skilled player. Those players don’t make it in the NHL anymore. They don’t. They used to. At least they don’t make it for a long, extended period of time.
Fohr, on Bordeleau’s hockey IQ:
If you ask a coach or a scout or a GM, what are your three most important things? People almost always throw hockey IQ at you.
For me, with Thomas, where you really see it, when you see the intelligence, when he gets the puck on his stick, his ability to manipulate the other team, manipulate the defender. For example, on the power play, when he has the puck on his tape, the way he postures the puck, the way he holds the puck on his stick, the way he postures his body, will tell one story to the defender, to get the defender to move. [That] opens up the play he really wants to make.
That’s a really, really, really hard skill. It takes a lot of hockey intelligence to do that, to understand the messages you’re sending to a defender. It’s a really elite trait of his.
Fohr, on Sasha Chmelevski’s skating:
The knock on him was always his skating. He kind of skated really wide. He didn’t recover his skating very well, so his feet were always really, really wide. So people were always worried about his skating, his ability to get around the rink.
I think he’s fixed that a little bit, as I’ve seen him over the years. But he’s similar to a Bordeleau type from his ability to make plays. They actually make pretty good comparables.
Fohr, on Kevin Labanc’s Twitter handle:
By the way, he’s got one of my favorite Twitter handles out there with @Str8ToTheBanc. He had that when he was here and I remember the guys gave him a hard time about it. But I loved it.
Fohr, on if Labanc’s USNTDP teammates were jealous that Labanc has such a cool last name:
(laughs) That was probably part of it. To have the cunning to him to be able to do that, right? Kevin never lacked the confidence to pull something off like that, that’s for sure.
Make sure to listen to the entire interview: It’s well worth your time if you’re interested in the draft process for USNTDP players (6:00), which San Jose Sharks scout concentrates on the USNTDP, what Bordeleau’s game looks like (10:00), and how his father (former NHL player Sebastien Bordeleau) helped shape his game (16:00). We also compare Labanc and Bordeleau (23:30) and get a Chmelevski update from Fohr (30:00).
BREAKING: Sharks Are Talking to Conor Sheary
When free agency began on October 9th, the question was, “Who would the San Jose Sharks sign?”
After almost two weeks of relative inactivity — besides adding familiar faces Patrick Marleau and Matt Nieto and losing franchise icon Joe Thornton — the question became, “What’s Doug Wilson doing?”
San Jose Hockey Now has good news for Sharks fans: Wilson is still active in free agency. So who’s he looking at — Conor Sheary, Erik Haula, or Mikael Granlund? We’ve got the scoop!
Who’s Best Option for Sharks’ Third-Line Center?
Kyle and JD put out a call for a mailbag and you responded! So much so that we had to ask for some help for your San Jose Sharks questions. We are joined by SB Nation’s Sie Morley to talk hockey, among other things. We look at reverse retro jerseys and why they are a thing, the Sharks goaltending, and if Martin Jones can bounce back (8:30). Also, who will be the third-line center (12:15) and how will San Jose Sharks fans treat Joe Thornton when they see him in blue (18:30)? Check out the podcast on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
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