Scott Laughton is not Sean Couturier, and maybe he shouldn’t stay with the Flyers

Any minute now word should trickle down about whether Scott Laughton will be staying with the Flyers for the foreseeable future, or if he will be returned to his Canadian junior club in Oshawa to continue his development and prolong the start of his entry-level contract (ELC).  As part of the shortened season, junior players can only play in five games before the decision must be made.

The opinion on whether or not he should be sent back seems relatively split down the middle. Laughton’s supporters will argue that he’s been fantastic in his role, and been one of the better forwards through five games. The detractors (including myself), will argue that while he has been playing his role well, he hasn’t been so exceptional in that role that he can’t be replaced by other internal options. Basically, he isn’t Sean Couturier from last year.

I will fully admit that I wanted Couturier sent back last year. I tend to heavily weigh contracts when it comes to making decisions, and delaying Laughton’s ELC is appealing to me. However, even ignoring that for the moment, Scott Laughton has not been so fantastic in his role that he should be compared to Couturier, or even that other internal options couldn’t perform in that same role.

Scott Laughton is not Sean Couturier.

Looking at time on ice, short-handed time on ice, the quality of competition, the quality of teammates, and the corsi relative quality of competition (a measure of shot differential directed at the net, relative to your teammates and the quality of your competition), Sean Couturier takes the cake.

Disclaimer: There is obviously a massive issue with sample size here, as we only have five games of data to use for Laughton. So take it with a grain of salt.

Where I could, I did take a look at the first five games of Couturier. For the sake of the ranks seen, I eliminated anyone who hadn’t played 50 games or more in 2011-12 for Couturier, and anyone who only played one game in 2012-13 for Laughton.

Laughton is playing about  three minutes less per game than Couturier was, seeing no time on the penalty kill (whereas Couturier was over four minutes per game through his first give), playing more sheltered minutes as far as opponents go (relative to his rank among forwards), and performing far worse than Couturier did last year based on Corsi Rel QoC.  All of this while playing with better linemates. Couturier played with the worst linemates among all Flyers (not just forwards) playing 50 games or more in 2011-12.

I like Laughton. I think he’s looked quite good; but he is not Sean Couturier. I can’t help but wonder if he’d be better off playing a more meaningful role back in Juniors.