Flyers are seeing resurgence of a forgotten 1st round pick and it’s rejuvenating their 4th line

The day was June 22nd, 2012. The formerly known Consol Energy Center, in Pittsburgh, PA, was the location. It was home to the 1st round of the 2012 NHL Draft. The Flyers picking 20th after coming in 3rd place, in the former Atlantic Division, the year before.  Coming off a pretty good season too.  First, they made the playoffs for the 5th straight season. Second, a first round win against the rival Pittsburgh Penguins.  However, they exited in the second round at the hands of the New Jersey Devils.  The draft was the next focal point for the Flyers.

With the draft highlighted by the names of Nail Yakupov, Ryan Murray, & Alex Galchenyuk, the Flyers, picking 20th, knew they had to go with a different strategy to find some talent at pick 20.  They went with a kid who drew a lot comparisons to a previous Flyer, Mike Richards.  That kid was Scott Laughton.  Laughton, a 6′, 170 Ib forward, who hailed from Oakville, Ontario, Canada, was coming off a stellar year with the Oshawa Generals.  A forward, who known for his two-way play more than anything…

“Scott Laughton may be the smartest, most competitive draft-eligible player in Ontario. His compete level, intelligence and hockey sense are without a doubt his best assets. Laughton is the type of player who is willing to do whatever it takes to win, be it block a shot, make a strong back check or drop the gloves. He is extremely strong positionally and he shows an ability to be in the right place at the right time in all three zones. He thinks the game well both with and without the puck, and shows strong two-way play” – McKeen’s Director of Scouting, David Burstyn

After being drafted 20th by the Flyers in 2012, Laughton couldn’t find himself on the right side of the Flyers forward list.  Laughton stayed for the allowed 5 games as a rookie without burning a year of his contract in 2012. And he didn’t put on another Flyers sweater for two years.

The Flyers were very patient with the slow developing forward, who got his chance with the team in 2014. Laughton was recalled to the team after a Claude Giroux injury and a great start to his AHL season. Laughton made his first appearance in a Flyers uniform since 2012. At the time, Phantoms head coach Terry Murray had nothing but great things to say about the first year pro…

“He’s strong, he’s on the puck, he has the puck, he wants it. He attacks with it and takes it to another level.”

However, this was not the greatest time for Laughton. Laughton struggled with the game speed of the NHL.  His role was reduced to the Flyers 4th line multiple times. To make things worse, Laughton suffered a concussion in January of 2015 and struggled after his return. Which lead to his demotion back to the AHL to make room for Bradyen Coburn on the Flyers roster.  But, GM Ron Hextall had nothing but good things to say about the 1st year pro…

“We’re not unhappy with Scott”,”He did a nice job, but we think time down there will be beneficial for him.”

Fast forward a year, Laughton finally got his chance to prove himself. Laughton, in 2015-2016, stuck with the Flyers the whole year.  He played multiple different roles at times. Though, mainly on the 4th line.  Laughton’s offense never showed in the NHL and the rest of his game struggled because of it. Laughton, known more for his two-way play, never was trusted enough by Coach Dave Hakstol to be present in late game situations. He was mainly an extra guy on the bench. This hardship led him to his low point of his career.

Laughton, who many thought his time in Philly was on the line this season, suffered what was thought of his knockout blow. After staying with the team the previous whole season, Laughton lost his job to rookie sensation Travis Konecny. To make things worse, the Flyers sent him to the AHL. This led Flyers fans to think, would they ever see the former first round pick again?

However, Laughton wasn’t ready to give up.  Laughton worked hard day in and day out with the Phantoms.  Working on his game and the things that made him a 1st round pick in 2012.  He got back to doing what he was successful at, his speed and two-way play.

Laughton opened eyes with the Phantoms in 2016-2017.  He was faster, stronger, more situational, and what made it even better, his scoring touch was back. Even GM Ron Hextall noticed his improvements…

“Scotty had a terrific year”,“He improved a lot, I think his focus and professionalism, quite honestly. I think Scotty really grew up last year.”

That growth and trust from GM Ron Hextall, made shock waves when Hextall protected Laughton over Bellemare in the expansion draft.  The Flyers ended up losing Bellemare because of that, but this seemed like Hextall’s plan. Give the former 1st round pick one last shot to prove himself at the NHL level.

This season, Laughton has secured himself a spot on the Flyers for years to come.  Yes, it is on the 4th line.  However, this season is a turning point for the Flyers, as the 4th line is exactly a speed line, not a goon line. Laughton, centering speedy wingers Taylor Leier & Michael Raffl, has revived his NHL career from the demotion last season…

“It was tough at the start after spending a full year in the NHL”,“I tried to build off my game and get better every day. I think it’s been good so far.”

His biggest supporter now is Coach Dave Hakstol.  Hakstol has trusted him in key situations in the season already. None bigger than last Saturday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers. Where Laughton and others took down Connor McDavid and held in pointless in a 2-1 win. But, Hakstol did mention that Laughton is like every other NHL player and they take their own tracks to get to the NHL…

“Every good young player is going to have a different path”,“They have to get here when they are ready. Scott is playing well for us right now. He hit bumps in the road last year, handled them extremely well and he’s the one who deserves the credit for putting himself back in this position.”

Today, Laughton has revived his career leading the Flyers speedy 4th line.  He deserves tremendous credit for finding himself during last years demotion.  Laughton is now apart of the Flyers future plans. This changes what many thought to be a bust, into a positive for the Flyers drafting history.

 

Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Flyers reporter for Philly Sports Network
Neumann Knights ~ Retired College Athlete
“Dont blame the messenger”

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