By Jeff Quake, Sports Talk Philly staff writer
In a way, Scott Laughton is a similar player to fellow Flyer Sean Couturier, at least towards the beginning of his career. He was an offensive threat at the junior level, but when it came to playing in the NHL, Laughton started to struggle on offense.
Both young players began their careers playing a big defensive role, and when the numbers did not show, the fans showed their displeasure. Over the years, Laughton grew as a player, as there were a few major turning points in his career to help polish the player he is today.
The player he was when the Flyers first drafted himge with the 20th overall pick in the 2012 NHL draft, included a five-game stint during his "rookie year" in Philadelphia later that fall. He quickly got sent down to the Adirondack Phantoms in the AHL to develop his game. To his credit, he went back to juniors in Oshawa to play for the Generals and scored 87 points, including 40 goals, in 54 games.
That earned him a roster spot the next year in Philadelphia and he played in 31 games, but only putting up six points. With that was another back-and-forth year with the Phantoms, now moved to Lehigh Valley.
Laughton was still a mystery type of player to the organization, unable to find his identity and what type of role he would play with the team. After getting sent down to the AHL for one final time, Laughton had finally made the Flyers in 2017-18 for good. But the key part in his career was when the Flyers decided to protect him from the Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion draft. That certainly turned a lot of heads as Laughton was not the team’s best player or even an important one at the time. But former GM Ron Hextall saw something in Laughton that others simply had not, as he not only protected the Oakville, Ontario native but signed him to a two-year extension as well.
Since that moment, and getting sent down to the Phantoms in order to become a more defensive depth player, Laughton has become a crucial member of the Orange and Black’s lineup. He played the best hockey of his NHL career last year, scoring 12 goals and 20 assists for 32 points in all 82 games.
Laughton's game is far more than just putting up points. He plays a key role on the penalty kill and face-off circle. He won 54.17 percent of face-offs last year, and 51.99 percent the year prior. Laughton was certainly a proven center, but the face-off numbers increased dramatically over the years from as little as 43.81 percent to where he is today.
Currently, Laughton is on the shelf for approximately another week with a broken finger, but Laughton himself has mentioned that his earliest target to return is on Nov. 23, the day he can come off of long-term IR. That is if all goes according to plan, of course.
The 25 year-old is one of those players where you might not notice him on every shift during every game, however when he is out of the lineup, you recognize his importance to the team and the rest of the bottom six.