Labanc says he signed team-friendly deal to help Sharks
Brandon Magnus / National Hockey League / Getty

Kevin Labanc says he accepted a surprisingly low contract for a couple of reasons.

The San Jose Sharks forward, who raised a few eyebrows when he re-signed and inked a one-year pact worth a reported $1 million last month following a 56-point campaign, said he wanted to avoid distractions during the season.

"I didn't want to wait," Labanc told NHL.com's Adam Kimelman at a charity event on Friday. "I wanted to sign the contract, get myself ready for the upcoming year and have nothing hanging over my shoulder."

Labanc added that signing the deal also made it easier for general manager Doug Wilson to navigate a difficult cap situation.

"I think I did (him) a big favor, and the Sharks organization, taking that deal," the winger said. "There's a lot more salary cap (space) for him to get another one or two players. It's awesome and I think it'll help our team be good Stanley Cup contenders this year and that's where we want to be, we want to hoist the Stanley Cup this year. It's a long season, and we're going to need every player we can get."

Longtime San Jose forward Joe Thornton remains unsigned, and the club holds about $4.7 million in cap space, according to CapFriendly.

In June, the Sharks locked in star defenseman Erik Karlsson to an eight-year contract reportedly worth $92 million, and then they signed promising young forward Timo Meier to a four-year, $24-million deal on July 1.

San Jose also lost captain Joe Pavelski, Gustav Nyquist, and Joonas Donskoi to other clubs in free agency. However, Labanc sees those departures as an opportunity for him to carve out a larger role.

"I'm going to go in there and work hard and look forward to my enhanced role on the team," he said. "There's going to be a lot of minutes. When guys leave it's an opportunity for guys like me to step up and prove I am that type of player who can play a top-six role."

In his third campaign with the Sharks, the 23-year-old established career highs with 17 goals and 39 assists while playing all 82 regular-season games in 2018-19. He added nine points in 20 playoff contests.

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Labanc says he signed team-friendly deal to help Sharks
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