The Dynamic Duo: Kevin Labanc and Dylan Sadowy
How a pair of forwards bring versatility and creativity to the Sharks system.
Not often will an NHL team have two high-scoring forward prospects playing for the same Major Junior team. Other than the Sharks, only one other NHL team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, has a pair of forwards playing for the same Ontario Hockey League team that both have a Point Per Game pace of higher than 1.0. For the Sharks, Dylan Sadowy and Kevin Labanc are both 2014 drafted forwards that bring a lot to a team in different ways.
Dylan Sadowy is a Woodbridge, Ontario native that played his midget hockey with the Vaughan Kings. He was drafted towards the end of the 2nd round in the 2012 OHL Priority Draft by the Saginaw Spirit. He called Saginaw, Michigan home for 3 and a half years before being traded as a rental to the Barrie Colts. Sadowy has amassed 70 points in 64 OHL games this year. After the deadline deal with Saginaw, Dylan played a key role as a goal scoring force on Barrie’s 2nd line. He had 25 goals in 28 games for the Colts, and will suit up for them in their 1st round series against the high-flying Mississauga Steelheads.
He is a gritty, agitating, goal-scoring winger. Dylan played on the top unit in all situations for the Saginaw Spirit but has been used as a secondary option on even strength, the penalty kill, and on the power play for the Barrie Colts. Sadowy has improved a lot as a skater since the draft. His edgework is decent, his motor never stops, and he never gives up.
His bread and butter is using his power and strength to drive to the net as well as to get into the corners and below the net to win board battles. However, his top speed isn’t great, and his acceleration is rather poor. His stride is choppy and his feet aren’t moving quickly enough for the professional game. Dylan prefers to make simple, direct passes, but his passing touch is good. He tends to have tunnel vision, but he also has shown flashes of brilliance with quick, clean passes in the neutral zone and the offensive zone.
Sadowy dominates as a goal scorer near the crease. While most of his goals aren’t pretty, Dylan Sadowy knows how to put the puck in the net. Dylan is incredibly effective at cleaning up the rebounds and passes across the crease. Add in his excellent screen positioning and lethal deflection ability, and you have a very dangerous scorer.
While he excels at greasing out goals, he has a good shot. The velocity and accuracy he can get off is impressive, and his release is above average. Dylan has good anticipation for the up-tempo role he plays. He also has good offensive awareness, but I question his defensive anticipation. His hockey sense is definitely not as high as Barrie teammate Kevin Labanc.
Sadowy can sometimes miss crucial defensive assignments, and his spatial awareness is not where it needs to be. Dylan can be a relentless beast on the forecheck and in the corners. He is physically punishing for his size and he will drop the mitts to stand up for his teammates at all times. He has the potential to be a serviceable character depth player that can step in on all situations. His skating and offensive creativity shouldn’t hold him back from being an NHL depth player, but they definitely need to be addressed soon. Dylan will play in the Sharks system if he is offered a contract by the club.
Kevin Labanc is a Staten Island native that played with the New Jersey Rockets and U.S. National Team Development Program before heading up to Ontario. He was drafted at the very beginning of the 6th round of the 2011 OHL Priority Draft. He has played his entire OHL career with the Barrie Colts, amassing 127 points in 65 OHL games this year. Kevin has been the driving force on Barrie’s top line all year.
Labanc is a dangerous playmaking forward and logged a lot of minutes in every situation. His skating has room for improvement, but he has some good fundamentals. He has incredible edgework and is rather shifty. His top speed isn’t world beating, but it is definitely adequate. He has a good first step but he doesn't have much explosiveness, and his overall acceleration isn’t the quickest. He also doesn’t have a compact stride.
However, his overall mobility is fine. His cerebral play style isn’t dependent on blazing speed, but I’d like to see it improve before he hits professional ice. Labanc is one of the best puck distributors in the OHL. His vision and passing touch is superb, and his ability to find players anywhere on the ice leads to numerous offensive opportunities and chances every time he hops over the boards.
He does well at seaming passes through the slot and near the net, has especially soft hands and an abundance of edge cuts and spin moves to beat defenders. However, Labanc needs to expand his arsenal and use creativity to discover new ways to beat the opposing defenders in a tight-checking, professional league. Labanc is often 2 steps ahead of everyone else on the ice.
He possesses incredible offensive instincts and great awareness on both ends of the ice. He anticipates passes and movement well. When you combine this skill with his positioning and stickwork, you get a quality two-way forward. Labanc is one of the most tenacious forecheckers in the OHL, and bringing this skill to the professional game will do wonders in earning the coach's favor.
Kevin’s physical game, however, is not where it needs to be to succeed. He can slip off of checks at the junior level, but his shiftiness will only take him so far. Adding muscle mass and some grit to his game will help him round out as an all-situations, versatile forward. Kevin has a high ceiling but realistically projects as a middle six forward at the NHL level. He has some work to do on his skating and physicality in order to make the jump to the NHL, but there is reason to be excited about his potential. Labanc will most likely spend next year with the San Jose Barracuda.