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Preview/Lines #49: Some Points About Labanc That You May Not Have Considered?

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Credit: Hockey Shots/Dean Tait

There’s been so much Kevin Labanc chatter, David Quinn seems sick of it.

After Labanc’s fourth-straight healthy scratch on Sunday, a 4-0 shutout loss to the Boston Bruins, the San Jose Sharks’ bench boss was asked back-to-back questions about Labanc.

First, should we expect to see Labanc, the Sharks’ sixth-leading scorer, in the line-up on Tuesday against the Detroit Red Wings? Second, what went into Labanc getting scratched a fourth-straight time, especially since the Sharks were coming off a 5-3 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets going into Boston?

“We’ve gone through this,” Quinn said. “I don’t want to keep talking about it. It’s just a decision to give that group another chance.”

Sharks Locker Room: Meier Gets Real About Gap Between Sharks & Bruins, Quinn Doesn’t Want To Keep Talking Labanc Scratch

You can argue, after two well-played games against playoff-bound teams New Jersey Devils and Dallas Stars, both Labanc healthy scratches, that giving that forward group two kicks at the can against Columbus then Boston makes some sense. Bombed against the Blue Jackets, give them a shot against the Bruins?

We’ll see, after back-to-back disappointing efforts versus the Blue Jackets and the Bruins, if Labanc draws back into the line-up tonight.

But anyway, all that is just background to a few Labanc points that I wanted to throw out there.

  • Labanc is highly-skilled. I see some wild discourse out there, one extreme giving Labanc too much credit for some of his strong analytics over the years, another extreme saying that he doesn’t belong in the NHL. To the first extreme, I’d say what does Labanc do specifically on the ice to drive play? Don’t just give me numbers. To the second extreme, come on. That’s not even a genuine argument. You don’t produce like Labanc does – and I can show you high-end play after play – unless you’re an NHL’er.
  • Labanc is probably not tradable. His $4.725 cap hit on a contract that expires after next season is not tenable for a highly-skilled but defensively-suspect winger. The Sharks could retain, but since you’re only allowed to retain on three contracts, and they’re already retaining on Brent Burns’s deal, my guess is that GM Mike Grier wants to save those slots for bigger contracts on his ledger.
  • Labanc doesn’t want to get traded…at least this season. I don’t know this for a fact, but considering he just bought a house in San Jose and his wife Kelly is expecting next month, I doubt he wants to uproot everything or potentially be away from his family long-term right now. This off-season? Well, maybe he will be more amenable. His contract will still likely get in the way unless the Sharks retain.
  • Labanc’s extension was bad. I know, easy to say in hindsight. But I’ll admit, I made arguments for it when it was signed in Oct. 2020. And in Oct. 2020, before we knew for sure how the pandemic would affect the market, you could make an argument for the Labanc deal, at least from a productivity standpoint. So then-GM Doug Wilson basically gave Labanc a pre-pandemic contract during the pandemic. Alexander Barabanov’s most recent contract is a decent comp in some ways, though the Russian winger wasn’t as experienced as Labanc was before his extension. Barabanov is basically making half of Labanc ($2.5 million AAV) at less years (also expires after next year) for similar one-dimensional productivity. I think that’s roughly Labanc’s actual league-wide value right now.

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david barnard

just want to correct something here SP, Labanc and Barabanov don’t have similar points productivity at 5v5 (KL 2.21 vs AB 1.75). all situations, yes, similar (KL 2.26 to AB 2.21). there’s also context here to consider, in that KL doesn’t get the share of possible PPTOI that AB gets. reminder: AB gets 61.9% share of possible PPTOI compared to KL’s 38%. QoT is also an issue with their comparative PP usage. 78% of Barabanov’s PPTOI is spent with the SJS best players (Meier, Hertl, Couture, etc.) compared to KL’s time with those players (23%).

Arch Mickel

Do not we have to include, zone starts and that KL plays primarily with Hertl and Timo—that line tends to get better O-Zone starts. One might argue that KL point production should be higher based on that… stick anyone with Hertl and Timo, point production will be better than with Cap. and Nieto. Just as you point out the PP stats… these things also provide a better picture. Might even argue better to be paired with Timo/Hertl for 5v5 than: Cap/Nieto 5v5 and get PP 1 time, for your over all point production. What is more impressive KL having 2.21… Read more »

david barnard

5v5 AB’s % of OZ Starts is 1.4% higher. KL’s top 3 line combos at EV: 51.5% w/ Meier and Hertl 6.4% w/Hertl and Nieto 5.4% w/Svechnikov and Sturm AB’s top 3 line combos at EV: 44.5% w/Couture and Nieto 13.2% w/Hertl and Meier 12.0% w/Couture and Meier i think the QoT at EV is a wash. the QoT on the man advantage is AB advantaged. the share of possible PPTOI is even more telling. 21/25 points from KL are primary points (goals+P1’s). 20/28 points from AB are primary points. AB has 1 PP goal and 8 assists. KL has… Read more »

david barnard

look at this leverage usage chart from McCurdy’s data. i think there might be a couple of surprises.

surprise #1: i bet most fans would be surprised to see where Sturm falls here.

surprise #2: look who the Sharks turn to when they need to score. yup, KL! roughly +5% standings points gained relative to team when KL is dressed…

david barnard

attachments!

Screenshot 2023-01-24 at 12-49-19 S.J 2223 Leverage Deployment.png
Falco5

Im confused by what this chart is actually measuring. Is this showing how they are deployed or how they should be deployed?

david barnard

i believe how they are deployed. with the +/- % of standings points gained by it.

so, if he needs a goal he sends KL out there.

Last edited 13 days ago by david barnard
david barnard

you can see who the “role players” are on this chart. unfortunately, this team has more of that type than the “skilled” type.

Falco5

Is there a positional limitation on Lebanc? Does he struggle on his off wing? Can he only take on a single role on the forecheck/defensively?

Or is it possible the sharks are forcing nieto on the second line to increase his trade value?

Anson

KL certainly has a wicked shot and, when he’s using it, good things can happen. I agree with David, I would rather see KL on the PP in the O zone than AB. AB is feisty and creative, but doesn’t have the finishing skillset KL does. My biggest problem with KL is bullet point 2. That’s a very hefty price to pay for his previous body of work. The EK deal certainly was a bad one, given the injuries and limited time over the past 3 years. But at least he had a track record of delivering several elite seasons… Read more »

david barnard

at the time i can rem that fans were discussing a 3M AAV or less, but i found at least 1 comp that made me warn folks that KL could get significantly more. i can’t rem the comp player right now. i also suggested he’d get an over pay due to taking such a low 1-yr handshake deal to help the team out. i think both proved true.

Zeke

Labanc has struck me as the sort of player who can thrive if the right pieces are around him. On Jumbo’s wing? Yup! On Bonino’s wing? Maybe not so much. He’s been inconsistent, though I’ll note, at least some of his analytics are better than one might expect. From naturalstattrick: He’s 1st on the Sharks in CF% (technically behind Eyssimont, but that’s a very small sample) and 1st in GF%. Maybe Quinn has a point in rolling out at a 3rd line without Labanc and seeing how that group works. Bonino and Sturm are both players who seem to understand… Read more »

david barnard

it’s also possible, with the recent attrition of primary/secondary scorers among playoff bound teams, that if the Sharks had continued to play KL, someone might eat his entire contract for their playoff push. he’s arguably had a redemptive season and is/was on pace for a 50-point season. if i’m the GM of 1 of those teams i might be looking to add that scoring help to my team. not gonna happen if coach won’t play him. it also sends a really bad message to healthy scratch him and try to move him.

david barnard

outside of Eyssimont’s small sample size, when KL is on the ice the Relative Expected Goals % is the highest among Sharks F’s. i guess if you’re stealth tanking, you don’t want to play him. if you’re trying to win, it’s mind-boggling he’s not dressed, and that’s the angle.

Anson

KL, Simek, and Reimer to Arizona for Barrett Hayton and Jakob Chychrun.

Arch Mickel

KL has always been a 1 dimensional player, and there is nothing wrong with that. You need go to guys that can provide a spark offensive or defensive, when time calls for it. Also, we seem to forget that KL took a 1 mil paycheck for a yr when he should have been 3.2mil or something for 4-5 yrs, were numbers i remember being tossed around at the time. Now it looks bad, but it made up for that yr. I think Barbs is not as gifted offensively as KL either, but he is less one dimensional than KL. This… Read more »

KE

I don’t think you’ll ever see a pissed off KL – kids too nice lol.

david barnard

he’s got more hits than Gregor and Barabanov. he’s got more takeaways and fewer giveaways. wins more face-offs. he’s got the best CA/60Relative on the team. 2nd best xGA/60Relative on the team. check his player card. do you have anything more than anecdotal evidence to support the theory he’s “uninvested in defense”?

Screenshot 2023-01-24 at 19-44-47 Evolving-Hockey.com Player Cards.png
KE

I don’t doubt the statistics one bit – Gregor should never be in the lineup over Labanc. What I was trying to communicate is that I don’t see labanc as a mean in your face person.

Just because a player makes a hit doesn’t necessarily mean the player lost the puck. I do notice when he does hit like when Timo is physical that they both play better games.

My theory of him being traded is out the window lol. I don’t know who but someone is going to get picked up by the Canes to fill in for Patches.

david barnard

they’re looking to add a center, like: Horvat, Toews, and a couple others. Lou is under pressure to add a goal scorer to the NYI. might be a fit for the NY’er KL.

KE

We were at the same playoff game that the Labanc towels were given out!! It’s been such a long time Sharks have made the playoffs I wonder when they do will they be giving out Retro Towels hahaha

KE

How about them baseball skills of Couture!!! Finally. I knew this line was going to score.

KE

I have no idea all the analytics but what I do know is KL is best on the Timo and Hertl line and (Anson will fall over on this one) has real good chemistry with Karlsson- I will just love if LaBanc is the hero tonight

KE

My take has been that Labanc May go to the Canes because Patches is on LTIR. Now watching tonight’s Canes vs Stars game Anderson is hurt … again. Do we see Reimer back to Canes?

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