Last off-season, Kevin Labanc did the Sharks a real solid by signing a one-year, $1 million contract. This time around, Labanc can take more than just bank puns to the bank, as the Sharks signed him to a four-year extension.
The Sharks didn’t confirm the financial details, but The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun reports that the deal carries a robust $4.75 million cap hit.
As you can see, the Sharks signed LaBanc to a contract that follows the pattern of back-loaded deals trying to account for COVID uncertainty.
Kevin Labanc contract structure:
Year 1, $3.2M ($1.7M salary plus $1.5M SB)
Year 2, $3.95M ($2.95M salary plus $1M SB)
Year 3, $5.875M salary
Year 4, $5.875M salary
Again, AAV is $4.725M
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) October 10, 2020
Sharks sign Kevin Labanc to big four-year extension
Judging from the reactions, Sharks fans and media aren’t impressed by this contract. After adding this $4.75M cap hit to the Sharks’ salary structure, San Jose has about $3M in space, according to Puck Pedia.
Considering the disastrous season the Sharks suffered through, it’s not shocking that fans blanche at a big-money contract. Particularly since it’s going toward keeping a player around, rather than adding a breath of fresh air.
At face value, Labanc’s season (14 goals, 33 points in 70 games) was a letdown. But it’s not all bad.
Not all bad for the Sharks, but not ideal
By a wide variety of underlying stats, the 24-year-old was more useful than the box scores might have indicated.
Kevin Labanc (4×4.7m with SJ) is a very good play-driver, both at 5v5 and 5v4; not a finisher. pic.twitter.com/JvqL0xGm2l
— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) October 10, 2020
That said, nearing $5M per year makes it tougher to accept Transformers-ian “more than meets the eye” assurances.
Here’s what Sharks GM Doug Wilson said about Labanc, for whatever that’s worth.
“Kevin brings a rare level of offensive skill and creativity to our line-up and has established himself as a top-six forward in our league,” Wilson said. “His Game 7 playoff performance last season is one of the most iconic moments in Sharks history and is a perfect example of the impact he can have on a hockey game. Kevin has shown a consistent ability to perform at a high level in both the regular season and the playoffs and he will be a big part of our club in the coming years.”
It’s not unthinkable that the Sharks might bounce back in 2020-21, with Labanc serving as one of their valuable supporting cast members.
While the bigger cap number won’t help, it’s also possible that he might bring some value in a future trade. But, yeah, it’s easy to get why Sharks fans aren’t happy about the team paying a premium to maintain a questionable status quo.