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Sharks Bank On Labanc As Late-Round Steal

Wednesday, 07.2.2014 / 11:05 AM PT / News
By Dan Marrazza  - Staff Writer
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Sharks Bank On Labanc As Late-Round Steal

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.”




1 y - ANA 82 46 25 11 218 192 103
2 x - LAK 82 48 28 6 225 195 102
3 x - SJS 82 46 30 6 241 210 98
4 ARI 82 35 39 8 209 245 78
5 CGY 82 35 40 7 231 260 77
6 VAN 82 31 38 13 191 243 75
7 EDM 82 31 43 8 203 245 70


J. Thornton 82 19 63 25 82
J. Pavelski 82 38 40 25 78
B. Burns 82 27 48 -5 75
P. Marleau 82 25 23 -22 48
T. Hertl 81 21 25 16 46
J. Ward 79 21 22 -15 43
M. Vlasic 67 8 31 15 39
L. Couture 52 15 21 2 36
J. Donskoi 76 11 25 4 36
J. Braun 80 4 19 11 23
M. Jones 37 23 4 .918 2.27
A. Stalock 3 5 2 .884 2.94
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