Earlier this week, NESN’s Logan Mullen reported that the San Jose Sharks are seemingly shopping around players once believed to be a part of the franchise’s long-term plans. Among the names Mullen listed as players likely to be traded this year was the Sharks’ young forward and former 2014 draft pick, Kevin Labanc, who might be a great fit for the Boston Bruins.
The Slovak-born, Brooklyn, NY-raised Labanc was an offensive catalyst coming out of the OHL, nabbing consecutive 30+ goal and 100+ point seasons for the Barrie Colts in 2014 and 2015. Since then, though, he worked his way up into the Sharks’ roster from their AHL farm team and, in just two years, became one of their regular top-nine forwards. In four seasons with San Jose, Labanc scored 177 points in 339 NHL regular-season games and 14 points in 30 NHL postseason games, making him one of the more productive 3rd/4th line forwards in the entire league.
Additionally, Labanc is a 25-year-old, right-shot right winger and, while not a huge guy at 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds, he possesses quickness and craftiness with the puck. Both of which are skills the B’s bottom-six forwards have sorely lacked for the last few years.
However, despite being a point producer, Labanc does carry a $4.725 million cap hit for the next three years and his scoring has tailed off a little over the last two seasons. But, then again, playing on a bad Sharks team (or any bad team, for that matter) during back-to-back pandemic-shortened NHL seasons will do that to almost any player that isn’t Connor McDavid.
Still though I, for one, am willing to bet that if Labanc is acquired by Boston and paired with two thirds of Tampa Bay’s third line in Barclay Goodrow and Blake Coleman (if Sweeney can snag both of them this summer, that is, and my gosh, he better), it would make for a great fit. Imagine, Goodrow’s toughness and grit, reunited with Coleman and his nose for the net alongside Labanc’s playmaking skills would give the Bruins — for the first time in a long damn time — a legit scoring third line.
However, this is still the Boston Bruins we’re talking about, no big-name or top free agent signs here to make it rain financially, but rather to try and win . And so, if Goodrow’s and Coleman’s price tags turn out to be too rich for Don Sweeney’s blood, then you can be as sure as the Bruin’s B has eight spokes that Labanc is, and will be, their best viable option via trade at a scoring bottom-six forward.
I mean, after all, if Nick Ritchie and Chris Wagner are somehow Bruins after the Expansion and Entry Drafts, I’m still sure they could use a change of scenery. Don’t you?