One of the hottest story surrounding the Philadelphia Flyers seems to be the invite of Scott Laughton to training camp. Laughton was the first round pick of the Flyers (20th overall), and selected from the Oshawa Generals of the OHL. The Ontario native was able to sign an entry-level contract with the Flyers in August, but unsurprisingly went back to Oshawa during the lockout. And in his third season in the OHL, Laughton has shown what he’s capable of being: a gritty two-way Center with a decent ability to find the back of the net. In just 32 games, he’s totaled 13 goals and added 20 assists, good for third on his team.
Apparently, head coach Peter Laviolette has seen enough out of Laughton to bring him to Voorhees, NJ, as camp gets started on Sunday. The idea is interesting, as Philadelphia did the same thing with their 2011 first round pick, Sean Couturier, and achieved great success. But he is no Couturier by any means. The decision to bring Couturier to camp was after three years of offensive success in the QMJHL. While Laughton’s play on the opposite end of the ice is not in question, he is yet to possess the offensive skill set that Couturier had when he joined the Flyers last year. Although he’s shown great improvement, another complete season in Oshawa, followed by a season in the AHL with the Adirondack Phantoms would be the best course of action.
From a financial standpoint, using up a year on Laughton’s entry level contract in a shortened season would not be the smartest move. Because he’s only 18, the length of his entry-level contract is three years. To waste a year on his contract in a season which they’ll only be playing 48 games would not be the most financially-savvy move. Not to mention, the longer Philadelphia can keep Laughton $925,000 salary, the better.
In all likelihood, Laughton will get a hard look in camp, and even make the roster because of an injury to Danny Briere. Because of the lack of depth at center and Briere himself saying he’ll be out 7-10 days, Laughton will likely be called in to fill the open spot. However, don’t expect him to be around long. The new collective bargaining agreement will allow for entry-level contracts for 18 and 19-year olds who do not play in at least 6 games to “slide”. Essentially, the Flyers will not be obligated to pay his NHL salary if he plays less than 6 games. Look for Laughton to play 5 games with Philadelphia, and be sent back to the OHL when Briere recovers from injury.
Expect Laughton to be full time member of the Flyers soon, but just not this year.
Jake Pavorsky is a contributor for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @JakePavorsky.