San Jose Sharks’ Kevin Labanc and Adin Hill likely finished for the season
Kevin Labanc will miss the rest of the Sharks’ season, coach Bob Boughner said on Tuesday, as the team wants to remain cautious as the winger recovers from shoulder surgery late last year. .
It also appears goaltender Adin Hill will also be unable to play in the Sharks’ final seven regular-season games, starting with Tuesday’s home date with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Labanc hasn’t played since Dec. 11, when he was injured in a hit against the boards by Dallas Stars defenseman Jani Hakanpaa. Labanc, who had surgery later that month, finished the season with six points in 21 games.
“I know he’s disappointed,” Boughner said of Labanc. “I talk to him every day, I see him working hard. He’s at the rink every day, skating, shooting, doing everything he should be doing, but for him right now it’s (a) timing issue.
It emerged that Labanc, who is in the second year of a four-year, $18.9 million contract, was nearing a return late last month as he began to take part in practices. With less than two weeks left in the regular season and the Sharks knocked out of the playoffs, Labanc’s season is over.
“It’s just been a longer rehab than (the medical team) thought. Some guys are ahead, some guys aren’t quite ready,” Boughner said.
“It heals well. He’s got a full rotation, (but) there’s still some pain and you’re not going to put a guy at 90% with two weeks left in the season.
Hill, with a lower-body injury, hasn’t played since March 12, when he made 29 saves in the Sharks’ 5-0 win over the Los Angeles Kings. His last game before that was Jan. 22 against Tampa Bay and if he doesn’t play again, he’ll finish the season with a 10-11-1 record, .906 save percentage and 2 goals-against average. 66.
Hill’s long-term future with the Sharks looks murkier as the team acquired Kaapo Kahkonen from the Wild on March 21. Kahkonen is a pending restricted free agent and colleague James Reimer is signed for one more year, and the Sharks won’t keep three guards for next season.
“With two weeks to go, I don’t think you’ll see him again,” Boughner said of Hill. “I know he worked with the doctors and the coaches, but I would be shocked to see him come back to train with us, to be honest.”
Hill, along with a 2022 seventh-round pick, was acquired from the Arizona Coyotes last summer for a 2022 second-round pick and goaltender Josef Korenar. Hill then signed a two-year, $4.35 million contract.
Kaapo Kahkonen will start for the Sharks against the Blue Jackets as he seeks his first win with San Jose. In seven games with the Sharks, Kahkonen is 0-4-1 with a .914 save percentage.
MORE INJURY NOTES: Defenders Erik Karlsson and Radim Simek and striker Alexander Barabanov will all miss Tuesday’s game due to injury.
Both Simek and Barabanov were injured in last Thursday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks. Barabanov (upper body) took part in the Sharks’ morning practice on Tuesday but is still struggling to shoot the puck, Boughner said. Simek (lower body) remains day to day and could return to the ice on Wednesday.
Karlsson, per Boughner, also remains day to day with a lower body injury. He suffered from the disease at the start of the Sharks’ road trip last week, but the condition worsened during games against Nashville and Chicago before he and Simek were sent home ahead of the teams’ games against Dallas and Minnesota this weekend.
SIGNATURE OF GUARDIAN: The Sharks have signed former University of Michigan goaltender and United States Olympian Strauss Mann to a one-year contract. In 22 games with Skelleftea AIK of the Swedish Hockey League this season, Mann, 23, was 13-8-1 with a 2.19 goals-against average and .914 save percentage.
Mann played for Team USA at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, going 1-1 with a 1.85 goals-against average and .945 save percentage.
Prior to his professional career, Mann played 77 games with Michigan, posting a 34-29-9 record with 11 shutouts, a 2.14 GAA and a .926 save percentage.