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Sharks Bank On Labanc As Late-Round Steal

Wednesday, 07.02.2014 / 2:05 PM / News
By Dan Marrazza  - Staff Writer
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Sharks Bank On Labanc As Late-Round Steal
Sharks sixth-round draft pick Kevin Labanc continues his pursuit of an NHL career with hope of overcoming the obstacles of being a late round pick

Sharks Banking On Labanc Being Late-Round Steal

The atmosphere at the NHL Draft at Wells Fargo Center was tense.

On the floor, tables of NHL team executives sat huddled, vigorously debating the merits of 18-year-old hockey players, and which of the young men to invest in the futures of.

In the stands, the tension was supplied by the boisterous Philadelphia crowd, which used the event as a forum to shout their feelings, seemingly enthralled with tossing sage advice around like manhole covers and sharing the latest witticism to sprout into their minds with anybody within banshee-yelling distance.

Among the sounds to emanate from the Wells Fargo Center crowd.

Towards an Edmonton Oilers-affiliated table: “Trade. We’ll (Flyers) trade you (Braydon) Coburn for the third overall pick. Or for your email password.”

At NBC analyst Pierre McGuire, who is follicly challenged – AKA: bald. “Pierre! Love your hair!”

At the confluence of these eclectic surroundings, Kevin Labanc of the Ontario Hockey League’s Barrie Colts sat nearly anonymously in the stands with his family, dressed in all their finery, waiting for hours spread across two days for his name to be called.

About what was going through his mind before the Sharks finally selected him with the team’s final draft pick, 171st overall in the sixth round.

“Just a lot of things,” said Labanc. “Like who’s going to pick me. Because you just don’t know. When I heard them say the Barrie Colts, I was just so excited (I knew). I was one of the happiest kids alive, I’d say.”

The uneasiness of his Draft weekend now in his rearview mirror, things don’t necessarily get any easier for Labanc moving forward. For him ever to wear a Sharks sweater in a single NHL game will require him to overcome odds, as only a handful – or fewer – of sixth-round Draft picks per year ever go on to enjoy successful NHL careers.

“He hounds pucks,” says Todd Miller, one of Labanc’s coaches with the Barrie Colts. “He’s one that’s always on pucks. He’s always in puck battles; he’s hungry."

“This year, he played on a team like our team that was a bit older, so there wasn’t as much power-play time. But, he’s going to be counted on big this year. I think you’re going to see his totals nearly double this year. Plus, he’s more of a late kind of bloomer, which is good for San Jose. I think he was a great pick at where he got picked. I think he can get there (NHL).”

Although probability rates may be against him, the fact that Labanc was taken by the Sharks may significantly enhance his chances of becoming a quality NHLer. GM Doug Wilson’s staff has one of the NHL’s best track-records in unearthing hidden gems from the Draft’s later rounds.

On the 2013-14 roster alone, Joe Pavelski, Tommy Wingels, Justin Braun and Jason Demers were taken at the same time, or later than Labanc. On earlier San Jose rosters, Ryane Clowe and Evgeni Nabokov also were taken later than Labanc.

“There’s so many obstacles you have to overcome,” says Labanc. But I’m competitive. Moving forward, it’ll be about whatever I can do for the team.”

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STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 ANA 48 32 10 6 143 124 70
2 NSH 46 31 10 5 141 107 67
3 STL 46 29 13 4 148 111 62
4 CHI 48 30 16 2 151 112 62
5 WPG 49 26 15 8 138 122 60
6 SJS 48 25 17 6 131 132 56
7 VAN 46 26 17 3 124 118 55
8 CGY 48 26 19 3 140 126 55
9 LAK 48 21 15 12 133 129 54
10 COL 49 20 18 11 128 141 51
11 DAL 47 21 19 7 146 154 49
12 MIN 47 21 20 6 130 138 48
13 ARI 47 16 25 6 108 160 38
14 EDM 48 12 27 9 110 160 33

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Pavelski 48 24 18 10 42
L. Couture 48 18 24 2 42
J. Thornton 44 10 27 0 37
B. Burns 48 11 24 -6 35
P. Marleau 48 9 24 -10 33
T. Wingels 47 11 14 -2 25
J. Braun 47 1 18 4 19
T. Hertl 48 8 9 -2 17
M. Vlasic 47 6 10 13 16
J. Sheppard 42 4 9 -2 13
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Niemi 19 11 5 .912 2.57
A. Stalock 5 5 1 .905 2.65
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