San Jose’s in a bit of a funk.
Mired in a three-game losing streak — during which they’ve only scored four times — the Sharks had arguably their worst game of the season on Saturday, a 5-0 drubbing at home to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
So on Monday, they went calling to the farm.
Kevin Labanc, currently tied for the AHL Barracuda scoring lead with 10 points through six games, has been brought up to the big club.
It’s an interesting move.
Labanc, an undersized winger taken in the sixth round of the 2014 draft, has been a high-level point producer over the past few years. He scored 127 in 65 games in his final season with OHL Barrie, then racked up 26 more in just 15 playoff games.
He’s really impressed Barracuda head coach Roy Sommer this season, on the “Kid Line” with Nikolay Goldobin and Rourke Chartier.
[Goldobin is] benefiting from playing alongside a natural finisher in Labanc, who has the “hardest, most accurate shot,” Sommer has seen in almost two decades of coaching the franchise.
“I can score, too, but I’m always trying to find him because I know he has a really good shot,” Goldobin said, referring to Labanc.
That the Sharks are bringing in a sniper is telling.
In terms of possession and shot metrics, they’re faring well (see here and here), but there’s been an issue translating that into goals. The club sits 27th in the NHL in GPG, with forwards Joe Thornton, Mikkel Boedker, Joel Ward, Chris Tierney and Matt Nieto having combined for a grand total of five tallies.
So maybe having a trigger man in the lineup will help.