The San Jose Sharks have decided he’s waited long enough, and have recalled 20-year old Kevin Labanc from the AHL. No word on the corresponding move, or whether Labanc will feature in the lineup right away.
After being selected in the sixth round of the 2014 draft, Labanc has done nothing but score. 234 points in the following two years of junior made him a can’t-miss prospect in the Sharks system, and after making his AHL debut in last year’s playoffs, he was off to a scorching start in his rookie year. The forward has 10 points in 6 games, and will now see if his up-tempo game and playmaking ability can work at the next level.
For the Sharks, a team that is trying to get younger while saying goodbye to its older core, Labanc represents the next wave of talent. The 5’11” actually plays more of a physical game than one would expect, and can dominate on the powerplay with his crisp passing ability. Whether the Sharks, who currently rank 12th in the NHL will use him on the man advantage is unclear.
With Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau likely exiting San Jose after this season, the team needed to start looking forward to who will fill their top-six next year. If Labanc can find any success as a rookie this season, perhaps he’ll be ready to skate alongside Tomas Hertl next year, on one of the top two lines.