Fresh off of his rookie season, checking forward Joseph LaBate has re-signed with the Vancouver Canucks. The team announced today that the 24-year-old has signed a one-year, two-way deal worth the league minimum of $650K. The two sides came to terms below the value of LaBate’s qualifying offer, $660K, which was made last week.
Standing 6’5″ and weighing over 200 lbs., LaBate is a noticeable presence on the ice. A two-way forward who can play both center and wing, he is a good fit for a versatile, energy-line job when called upon by Vancouver. While he provides only meager offense – no points in 13 NHL games and just 16 points in 38 AHL games last year – he makes up for it with consistent defensive play. In the team’s press release, GM Jim Benning praised LaBate’s ability to be a physical presence for both the Canucks and AHL’s Utica Comets. Without many big checking forwards on the roster, Vancouver likely hopes that LaBate can carve out a role for himself on their bottom line as a two-way threat and work towards exhibiting some of the offensive touch he showed as a four-year starter at the University of Wisconsin.
While Benning and the Canucks are happy to have one of their young players back under contract, the team still has their work cut out for them with extending restricted free agents, with Bo Horvat, Brendan Gaunce, Reid Boucher, Michael Chaput and Evan McEneny in need of new deals. LaBate is just the beginning of several expected contracts this off-season for Vancouver.