By Kevin Fortier (@ksfortier)
Scott Laughton appears to have finally found a home on the Philadelphia Flyers full-time roster.
Laughton has played with the Flyers in the past but was never really able to find his role on the team. He played 5 games in 2012-13 as part of the allowable nine game tryout prior to being returned to juniors. He returned to the Oshawa Generals that season as well as 2013-14. He also captained Team Canada in 2014 at the WJC U20 tournament.
Laughton returned to the Flyers roster in 2014-15 tallying six points in 31 games. He played the full season in 2015-16 but continued to struggle to find his identity as a Flyer. He was a bubble player going into camp last season, but a knee injury at the end of training camp sealed his fate. When he was cleared to play he was returned to the Phantoms where he played the entire season.
He thrived last season, focusing on his 2 way play and was not expected to be an offensive standout. He received praise from former coach Riley Cote as well as Phantoms coach Scott Gordon.
He even received high praise from teammate Colin McDonald “I can’t say enough positive things about him,” McDonald said. “Just a great two-way player. Good locker room guy. He competes hard every night and has really helped me this year. I know it was disappointing for him that he was [sent] down this year, but selfishly we’re all very happy he was with us.”
Last season, he led the team and tied for the AHL lead with four shorthanded goals and led all Phantoms with a plus-minus rating of plus-17.
His play did not go unnoticed by Flyers GM Ron Hextall either.
“Scotty had a terrific year,” Hextall said. “He improved a lot, I think his focus and professionalism; quite honestly. I think Scotty really grew up last year so Scotty certainly will be given an opportunity to make the club along with Michael.” Said Hextall
Hextall also specifically referred to Laughton’s speed and two way play in another interview.
“He’s become a much more well-rounded player,” Hextall said. “Scotty understands the role that suits him and his strengths. He’s used his speed better. He’s become a much more consistent player.”
Weight: 190 pounds
Draft: 2012 Round 1 20st Philadelphia Flyers
Hometown: Oakville, ON CAN
2017 (AHL): Games: 60 Goals: 19 Assists: 20 Points: 39 +/-: +17
2016 (NHL): Games: 71 Goals: 7 Assists: 14 Points: 21 +/-: -2
Perhaps the most significant foreshadowing to Laughton’s improved place with the Flyers was when he was selected over Pierre-Edouard Bellemare to be protected in the expansion draft last June. That came as a surprise to most fans and writers who cover the Flyers and was a strong indication that Hextall was seriously considering Laughton’s place as a Flyer.
Laughton came into camp in great shape and ready to prove that he belonged on the roster. He was put together with Michael Raffl in pre-season as a checking line pair and they had instant chemistry. Taylor Leier was turning heads with his performance in camp and the trio became a line. The decision worked out as they were the best line on the ice in several preseason games.
All three players are am an improvement from last season’s fourth line. They are tenacious forecheckers and possess offensive upside. They are all solid defensively as well and can kill penalties while maximizing on their strength and speed to be threats short handed.
The trio combined for nine points in the preseason, although not always together. They should allow coach Dave Hakstol to have enough confidence to roll all four lines on a nightly basis. Laughton and Leier will also have a sizable role on the penalty kill.
The fourth line generated more shots on goal than the top line in 2 of the 3 games so far this season. Laughton is second on the team in SOG, one behind Sean Couturier. Leier has eight SOG he is ahead of Giroux, Konecny, Voracek, Patrick, Weise, Raffl and Filppula among forwards.
Although it is a small sample size, the fourth line posession and play driving have been outstanding through the first games. Their Corsi and Corsi differential are staggering.
Taylor Leier: Corsi for 72.55% Corsi differential +23
Scott Laughton: Corsi for 68.42% Corsi differential +21
Michael Raffl: Corsi for 70.83% Corsi differential +20
Laughton and Leier are younger, quicker and better overall two way forwards than Chris Vandevelde and Bellemare. Their contributions to the Flyers should be immediately felt and in game one against the San Jose Sharks they were noticeable throughout the game.
There are several new and younger faces on the roster and Laughton will look to remain there for good. He believes he has found his home and feels he can contribute and keep his spot on the starting roster.
Featured image courtesy of Zimbio.com