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Sharks recall Kevin Labanc

The Barracuda’s leading scorer gets a shot with the big club.

NHL: Preseason-Vancouver Canucks at San Jose Sharks Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The San Jose Sharks have recalled forward Kevin Labanc from the San Jose Barracuda ahead of the Sharks’ six game road trip that begins in Washington tomorrow, general manager Doug Wilson announced this morning.

From the Sharks’ press release:

The 20-year-old Labanc is tied for the Barracuda team lead in both points (10) and goals (4) in six games during the first professional season of his career. His plus-6 rating and 27 shots on goal both pace the Barracuda, and his 1.67 points per game are T-2nd in the AHL (minimum four games played) with fellow Barracuda teammate Nikolay Goldobin. Labanc ranks T-3rd in points, T-5th in goals and 3rd in shots on goal amongst all AHL rookies, despite having played in only six games this season.

A 2014 sixth-round pick, Labanc was among the last players sent down to the Barracuda in training camp. Labanc did not practice with the Sharks yesterday, and opened the scoring for the Barracuda in a 3-1 win over the San Antonio Rampage.

As of yesterday’s practice, Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer said the team had not made any decisions about who they were going to call up. But, he said any call-up would be given to those who had earned it.

“I think the number one thing when I talked to [Sharks general manager] Doug [Wilson] when we came in a year ago was we want to, if at all possible, reward merit and reward the guys that have earned the right to come up. I think that’s the number one criteria for us,” DeBoer said yesterday.

The coach spoke highly when asked about Labanc yesterday, and said he’s “had an impressive start to the season.” But, it remains to be seen when Labanc will make his NHL debut.

The Sharks changed their forward lines at yesterday’s practice, and it will be interesting to see where Labanc slides in, and who he pushes out. If the previous road trip was any indication, Labanc may not play at all, as Ryan Carpenter was a scratch for the duration of his time called up to the Sharks.

But, given the Sharks’ struggles to score at even strength, and how well Labanc has played this year dating back to the preseason, I would be surprised if he does not play on the road trip. San Jose doesn’t want to rush his development in his first professional season, but he’s earned a shot to show what he can do in the NHL.