Flyers development camp gave the organization, and its fans, the opportunity to get a look a group of youngsters who will hopefully become household names wearing the orange and black.
At a quick glance, many of the names are unfamiliar and difficult to pronounce. Then you see names that have appeared time and time again. Gostisbehere, Morin, Hagg. These guys are slowly but surely becoming household names for the Flyers faithful.
But there is one name at development camp that stands above all else: Laughton.
As in Scott Laughton, the Flyers first-round pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. The 20-year-old center is looking to make an impact on the Flyers brass at training camp with hopes of making the NHL squad come October. Laughton played five games for the Flyers at the beginning of the 2012-13 lockout-shortened season but failed to record a point.
Just because he didn’t land on the score sheet doesn’t mean Laughton didn’t learn a thing or two. It is safe to say Laughton has made some major strides to improve his game from January 2013 to now. “My body’s gotten bigger,” Laughton told Sarah Baicker of CSN Philly. “I think I’m way more powerful on my feet. I felt way better this year around the puck in the corners, and things like that -- getting low and being powerful.
“I learned a lot of up there. Time with the puck was huge. I think I took my offensive game to another level, too.”
Did he ever. Last season with the Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League, Laughton scored 40 goals and dished out 47 assists for 87 points in just 54 games. Laughton’s strong offensive play carried over into the playoffs as well, scoring four times and adding seven assists for 11 points in nine games. Last season he was also named the captain of Team Canada at the World Junior Championships.
One thing that might be standing in the way of Laughton cracking the NHL lineup is the new front office led by new general manager Ron Hextall. Hextall has been consistent in his approach to all of the organization’s top prospects in that he will not rush any prospect to the NHL and they will make their debut when they are ready.
Now that Laughton is 20 years old, celebrating his birthday on May 30th, he can make his professional debut with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms this year if he does not make the Flyers out of training camp. And listening to the Flyers director of player development Chris Pryor, it sounds like that is the route the team is leaning at his point in the summer.
“It will be a better situation playing in Allentown from a development situation,” Pryor told CSN Philly. “It’s not going to hurt any of those guys to go down there and have a big role. They’re still young guys. It’s going to be a little bit different look there.”
It might not be a bad thing for Laughton to continue to hone his game at the AHL level before jumping to the Flyers. Some players, such as 2011 third-round pick Nick Cousins, starred on the OHL before coming across stumbling blocks in the AHL. Other players, like Flyers captain Claude Giroux, spent part of one season with the Phantoms in 2008-09, playing a big role with the team, before getting called up to the Flyers for good.
Laughton still has his eyes on making the team out of camp but seems to have the right mindset if that does not come to fruition this season.
“I’m still pretty young,” Laughton said. “I just turned 20, and I want to play in the league 15 years from now, not play when I’m 20 and be out of the league soon.
“I’m going to develop the best I can, and hopefully I can make a roster spot. If not, then that happens and I move forward.”