Scott Laughton is not the fastest, nor is he the biggest (6’1, 177 pounds) or the oldest (just 18 years old). He is not the most talented. But, what Scott Laughton did during his five-game trial with the Philadelphia Flyers proved that he could play at the NHL level.
During Laughton’s brief stint with the Flyers, he registered zero goals, zero assists, and obviously, zero points. He averaged 11:31 a game, and that time is just not enough to develop a player with his style. I agree with the Flyers’ decision to send Laughton back to Oshawa to play with his junior team, where he will play top-6 minutes and be used on the power play and penalty kill. But that doesn’t mean I have to like the move.
Laughton played five games on a Flyers team that came out of the starting gate slow and went 2-3-0 in the beginning of the season. His plus/minus was 0, but his play was more inspirational than that. Laughton crashed into the corners and hit the boards. He was able to get himself open for chances and was not afraid to shoot the puck (10 shots on net). Laughton took the body and was not a liability on defense. He also did not appear to be overmatched in those games.
There is a lot for a player to learn, and it is difficult to make the jump from juniors to the NHL in one season, let alone during the season.
Laughton came to Philadelphia and played with energy. He was continually one of the better Flyers as the team stumbled to an 0-3 start. After that bad start, the Flyers were hit hard by injuries and needed to sign veteran forward and former Flyer Mike Knuble. The Flyers also recalled forward Tye McGinn, and Danny Briere returned. The numbers game did not benefit Laughton.
From the Flyers perspective, burning a year of Laughton’s entry-level contract did not make sense if he were to play less than ten minutes a game, so back to Oshawa he went. If they choose to do so, the Flyers can recall Laughton to the big club once Oshawa is out of the playoffs, but, that would burn a year of his entry-level deal.
By all accounts, the Flyers had a tough decision to make on whether or not to keep Scott Laughton on the active roster. Ultimately, the Flyers chose correctly and will let the youngster continue to grow as a player. Next year, he will be in Philadelphia and will be contributing.
Laughton is not the biggest, fastest, or strongest. What he has is what Philadelphia loves: a blue-collar attitude. And with that, the future looks bright for the next two-way forward for the Flyers.