Scott Laughton Has Risen to Become Key Member of Flyers' Bottom Six

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.

Oskar Lindblom Showing All-Around Skill Set Early in Season

By Jeff Quake, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

Ever since being drafted in the fifth round by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2014, Oskar Lindblom has emerged as one of the more under-appreciated two-way forwards on the Flyers, despite a solid career as a two-way forward overseas. While in Sweden, Lindblom was named the 2016-17 Swedish Hockey League Forward of the Year, a tremendous honor in one of the best professional hockey leagues in the world.

Last year, in just his second NHL season, Lindblom notched 33 points in 81 games, including 17 goals, and really showed why he is capable of being a top-six forward in the NHL. The 23-year-old Swede constantly won battles up against the boards, showing off his speed and strength to protect the puck. He is an all-around well-rounded player with a 6'1" frame that he can use to his advantage.

During training camp, James van Riemsdyk had nothing but positive remarks for his young teammate.

"He’s extremely versatile, we’ve seen the different things that he can do," van Riemsdyk said. "He can play with really skilled players, he’s got that skill and that mind for the game, and that allows him to do a lot of different things out there -- whether that’s playing a shutdown role or playing an offensive role."

In the season opener against the Chicago Blackhawks, Lindblom started off on the right note by showing how versatile he was. He scored his first goal of the season -- albeit a fluky one bouncing off of defenseman Slater Koekkoek -- while getting five shots on net in 16:33 of ice time, significantly more than his 13:45 average ice time from the previous season. Not only did he do all the rights things against Chicago, he seemed very confident with the puck, making great passes to his linemates Sean Couturier and Travis Konecny on the second line. The early chemistry he has with Couturier and Konecny shows as he looked much stronger skating wise, and defensively.

"You have to start in the right end, play good defense and go from there," Lindblom said during Flyers training camp. "It’s a long season and you have to be there every day, do your thing, and then you’re going to play and hopefully score some goals."

The next step for Lindblom is to do enough to stay on the second line, and have an even better season to help provide a spark for Philadelphia whether it’s even-strength play, part of the power-play unit, or on the penalty kill. He did receive some ice time on both special team units in the season opener, certainly a step in the right direction to keeping a significant role.

New Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault recently noted how important playing both sides of the puck are.

"What I see is a young man that has got a lot of energy, wants to learn how to play the right way," Vigneault said. "It's not just about offense, he wants to defend and he wants to defend well. A skilled player like that has got to be allowed to try different things, but there are times in a game where your decisions with the puck permit you to continue and go on the attack. The wrong decisions make the other team attack."

Well, Lindblom certainly showed that he was in attack mode against Chicago, and does not look like he will slow down any time soon.

NHL Season Preview: Flyers and NHL Predictions

The beginning of a new season for both the Flyers and the NHL means it’s another chance to be wrong about the upcoming season. Surely, no one could have predicted all of the changes made mid-season by the Flyers during a year that quickly snowballed into another missed playoff appearance.

With the start of another season, our Flyers staff takes a shot at some predictions for both the Flyers and the rest of the league.

Continue reading "NHL Season Preview: Flyers and NHL Predictions" »

After 2 Trying Seasons, Patrick Needs to Prove Himself in 2019-20


(Photo: Kate Frese)

By Jeff Quake, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

The moment that the Philadelphia Flyers discovered that they were going to pick second overall in the 2017 NHL Draft, they knew that they would get an exceptional player in either Nolan Patrick or Nico Hischier. The New Jersey Devils, who had the first overall pick, decided to go with Hischier, giving the Flyers the option to pick the star center playing for the Brandon Wheat Kings with the second overall selection.

Patrick made the team right out of rookie camp, but unfortunately had a rough start to his rookie season. Just three games into his NHL career, Patrick was hit up high and hard against the boards by then Anaheim Ducks forward Chris Wagner. Right away, Patrick looked shaken up, as he was slow to gather himself on the ice. Slowly but surely, Patrick started to get accustomed to the NHL and although his points didn’t show how lethal he can be, the 18-year-old rookie put up 30 points in 73 games.

Continue reading "After 2 Trying Seasons, Patrick Needs to Prove Himself in 2019-20" »

Flyers May Have Another Late-Round Draft Gem in Kase


(Photo: Kate Frese)

By Jeff Quake, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

During the NHL Draft, the later into the rounds, the harder it is to find the talent. However, the Philadelphia Flyers are one of the better teams to find young talent especially outside of North America.

From Oskar Lindblom (138th overall in 2014) to Mikhail Vorobyev (104th overall in 2015), the Flyers have now found another young riser in David Kase (128th overall in 2015), the brother of current young star of Ondrej Kase of the Anaheim Ducks.

Continue reading "Flyers May Have Another Late-Round Draft Gem in Kase" »

Wayne Simmonds was a Perfect Representative for Flyers


(Photo: Kate Frese)

By Jeff Quake, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

It’s no secret, but when you just look at how he plays, right wing Wayne Simmonds is the true definition of being a Philadelphia Flyer. He was a full-on offensive threat, both during even strength and on the power play.

In 584 games played for the Flyers, Simmonds had collected 203 goals and 175 assists for 378 total points, including 91 goals and 60 assists on the power play. Simmonds played in nearly every game each season even when he was plagued with injuries.

With Simmonds now gone, we take a look back at the timeline of “Simmer’s” career as a member of the Orange and Black.

Continue reading "Wayne Simmonds was a Perfect Representative for Flyers " »

Sean Couturier Emerging as Elite Player for Flyers


(Photo: Kate Frese)

By Jeff Quake, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

It’s so hard to predict the future of a 17 or 18-year-old prospect when they get drafted into the NHL, and really get an idea of how well they will perform throughout their career. Some players make it to the NHL right away and play exceptionally well. For others it takes time to develop and find their game.

This is how Sean Couturier’s career began back in 2011-12, as a quiet role as a top-nine defensive shutdown forward on the Flyers. Over the last two seasons, Couturier has blossomed into splitting time between the top-line and second-line center role while producing some remarkable numbers.  Last season, the 26-year-old set career-high marks with 31 goals, 45 assists and 76 points. This season, Couturier has 23 goals and 48 points in 53 games played.

He has certainly come a long way since his rookie year, and now has progressed into an elite top-six center. Couturier is also producing at a rate that not many thought he would. When his career began, he was known for stepping into the defensive role and shutting down the likes of Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins during the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He’s become the full package for Philadelphia and is slowly starting to get league wide recognition.

Continue reading "Sean Couturier Emerging as Elite Player for Flyers" »

How Will the Flyers Approach the Trade Deadline?


(Photo: Kate Frese)

By Jeff Quake, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

With under three weeks until the NHL Trade Deadline, the Philadelphia Flyers are still in the position to be sellers despite their impressive play as of late. The Flyers have won eight in a row and are currently sitting just five points out of a playoff spot, which is much better than where they were at the bottom of the NHL just a month ago.

The team is not necessarily looking for any rentals; however, it is possible to see Philadelphia trade future picks, or prospects to another team with term. Some trades might include depth players such as Michael Raffl or Radko Gudas but the most realistic and logical trade is for the Flyers to trade Wayne Simmonds by the time the deadline approaches on Feb. 25.

Continue reading "How Will the Flyers Approach the Trade Deadline?" »

Morgan Frost Should Be a Flyer in 2019-20

By Jeff Quake, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

So far in just 32 games played, 19 year-old Morgan Frost is once again dominating the OHL with 20 goals, 38 assists, for 58 points. At that rate, Frost should easily surpass his career high total points of 112 points, set last year.

Future Considerations lists him as "a playmaking pivot who reads the game intelligently, calm and poised, agile on his skates and possesses excellent edge work." says that he "has good hockey sense and he reads plays quickly in all three zones and reacts accordingly."

During the 2019 World Junior Championships representing Team Canada, Frost arguably the best player on the ice, leading the team with eight points in just five games, tied for second-most in the tournament.

Continue reading "Morgan Frost Should Be a Flyer in 2019-20" »

With Evaluation Underway, How Long Before Fletcher Takes Action?

By Jeff Quake, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

Times are tough for the Philadelphia Flyers as they sit one point above the New Jersey Devils in the standings for last place in the Metropolitan Division.

The Flyers are 1-1-1 thus far in the Chuck Fletcher era, since the new GM was hired back on Dec. 3. Currently, the team is two games into a five-game road trip.

Now that Fletcher has assumed the GM role, the biggest question is what will Fletcher do with all of the players, prospects, picks, but also salary cap he has?

You could argue that there are a few players such as Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, Ivan Provorov, James van Riemsdyk, and Shayne Gostisbehere are all safe. Even some younger players like Robert Hagg, Travis Konecny, and perhaps Travis Sanheim are as well.

One of the issues is that none of these players are Fletcher’s guys. Remember when everyone thought Mike Richards and Jeff Carter were untouchable? Well, if the right deal comes along Fletcher might trade someone, such as Wayne Simmonds or Jake Voracek, who both came from those blockbuster trades.

The moment that Fletcher was officially announced as the new GM for Philadelphia, the organization’s evaluation period began. But how long will it last? That's the concern of the players and coaches and everyone else under evaluation under a new watchful eye.

This evaluation period could be the duration of the road trip, the next few weeks, or even the rest of this season. Even if this evaluation lasts for the remainder of the 2018-19 season, it feels like a safe bet that something from this team will look different by the time the 2019 NHL Trade Deadline is over on Feb. 25 at 3 p.m.

Just two games into the road trip, the Orange and Black got dismantled, 7-1, by a much stronger Winnipeg Jets team. On paper, the Flyers have the makeup of a playoff team that should be able to reach the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but on the ice this team is exactly what their record shows.

If the team’s record doesn’t flip around relatively soon, then the offseason will be very interesting for a lot of reasons. Besides the draft, the biggest area where teams find improvements and make changes is free agency, as the Flyers are rumored to be among those interested in a two-time Vezina trophy winner.

There have been conversations swirling around the Flyers and a reunion with another former player, this time it’s Sergei Bobrovsky. According to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnson, Philadelphia is prepared to make a run at Bobrovsky this July.

"The answer to the longest-running riddle in hockey may come from an unexpected place: As the Philadelphia Flyers ruminate on how to shore up their goaltending — at least until prospect Carter Hart is ready to take the wheel — there are whispers they will take a run at Sergei Bobrovsky on July 1," Johnson writes.

Of course, everyone in Philadelphia knows Carter Hart is coming and it won’t be long until he is the go-to guy in net for Philadelphia. Someone like Bobrovsky would look great for the organization and Fletcher, but the team needs to be cautious with large signings.

Fletcher has a history of signing some big free agents -- like Ryan Suter and Zach Parise in 2012 -- and wouldn’t be afraid of spending money again to land a top name. A Bobrovsky signing would create a good situation -- the team would have a true No. 1 goalie who is typically healthy and reliable, and all in all would be a great mentor for Hart. Of course, you would likely box in a top prospect like Hart, because Bobrovsky will likely not sign a short-term contract. He would want a contract very similar to Carey Price’s, currently the league's highest-paid goalie after signing an eight-year, $84 million contract.

And with Bobrovsky’s numbers, he may very well get a contract like that. He would expect to be the No. 1 goalie for the duration of his next contract. That would essentially prevent Hart from his showing true potential in Philadelphia.

No matter which direction the team goes, the organization’s future is in Fletcher’s hands and this team will be changed sooner rather than later. The evaluation period is here and will be for some time, but only one man knows how long this process will truly take.