This article will be another in my series of player profiles, where I’ll look at each player on the San Jose Sharks and assess how their season went. This article will focus on Kevin Labanc.
A few months ago, I wrote an article on what we can expect from Labanc going forward, so I’ll try to keep this player review a bit different. This was obviously a down year for Labanc, compared to expectations for him heading into the year. He dropped from 56 points in 82 games in the 2018-19 season, all the way to a pace of 39 points per 82 this year.
However, everything points to the fact that it shouldn’t be a permanent dip in production. His corsi for percentage was the highest of any full-time member of the team and his shots per game average increased quite a bit this season. While Labanc’s goals for percentage was just 38.6 per cent, the worst of any full-time forward on the team, his expected goals for percentage was significantly higher, at 54.2 per cent, which was one of the highest on the team (according to NaturalStatTrick.com). Part of this was because the team’s shooting percentage while he was on the ice was just 8.2 per cent, while Labanc’s shooting percentage was also only 8 per cent.
He certainly does need to be more consistent and there’s still uncertainty as to how productive he’ll be going forward. That said, in a poll I did with the last article on Labanc, I asked readers how many points they thought Labanc would score next season, and the most voted for answer was between 50 and 60 points. Only 15 per cent of readers voted that they thought he’d score under 40 points.
To me, I certainly don’t think he’ll be under 40 points next season, as too many things went wrong this year for him to not bounce back. That said, it’ll be a matter of whether he can produce in that 50-60 point range and solidify himself as a top-six winger, or if he’ll be in the 40-50 point range instead. Either way, next year will be an important one for Labanc.
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Here’s today’s poll question (results and discussion will be posted in a future article):
Do you think Kevin Labanc is good enough to be a permanent top-six NHL forward?