Laughton makes his mark at Flyers Prospect Camp
Courtesy of PhiladelphiaFlyers.com
By Charlie O’Connor (@THG_Charlie)
Philadelphia Flyers forward prospect Tye McGinn struggled to rise to his skates, a victim of a vicious open ice hit by Chris Williams, a burly camp invite looking to impress the organization with his aggressiveness and physicality.
2012 1st round pick Scott Laughton would not allow the hit to go unpunished.
“There was a big hit and I wanted to back him up. I just wanted to be there [for McGinn].”
Conceding over thirty pounds to his foe, Laughton quickly engaged the defenseman. The ensuing fight was entertaining yet brief, concluding with the 18-year old Laughton towering over the older, bigger, and newly defeated Williams.
“[Laughton] knows what the Flyers are all about,” Ian Laperriere said following Sunday’s scrimmage, as he raved about Laughton and his willingness to defend a teammate at such a young age.
But the newly-drafted forward did not merely impress with his fists during the prospect scrimmages in Voorhees. Laughton showcased his natural hockey instincts throughout the weekend.
Camp invite Chris Clapperton’s lone goal during Saturday’s scrimmage was a direct result of the efforts of Laughton. Laughton won an offensive zone faceoff and immediately positioned himself for a deflection from the incoming point shot, changing the puck’s direction and creating a rebound that Clapperton would easily bury.
Laughton also battled constantly with fellow prospect Nick Cousins, as the noted agitator attempted to rile Laughton and disrupt his focus. However, Laughton exhibited self-control and kept his cool during the scrimmages. Laughton later explained with a smile that the two players are good friends off the ice, a result of their days together in the OHL.
“It’s tough [to show yourself] with two scrimmages, and the intensity is so high you don’t have a lot of time with the puck,” Laughton said on Sunday. “But I thought I played well most of the game and showed my physical side.”
Laughton’s physicality was certainly on display on Saturday. He removed fellow 2012 draftee Shayne Gostisbehere from the scrimmage with a perfectly legal but clearly painful hit along the boards. Gostisbehere would not return to the ice during the weekend.
While the Flyers’ management were likely not enthused to see Laughton hasten an early exit for Gostisbehere, who had impressed during practices, they were very satisfied with Laughton’s overall performance.
“I really like Laughton’s game and I think he improved all week,” Laperriere said.
The selection of Scott Laughton with the 20th overall pick was met with surprise by many league observers and fans, as the Flyers were widely predicted to select a defenseman with their earliest draft choice.
But the Flyers have historically had great success when choosing a forward in the first round. Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Simon Gagne, Dainius Zubrus, Justin Williams and even Steve Downie all found roles as top-six forwards in the NHL.
In fact, the last time that Philadelphia took a forward in the first round that failed to succeed in the NHL was twenty years ago, when Flyers chose Ryan Sittler and Jason Bowen. Sittler saw his promising career derailed by injuries, while Bowen simply failed to develop. But over the past twenty years, the Philadelphia scouting department have proven their expertise in evaluating top-tier forwards.
While Laughton has only a minimal chance to make the Flyers out of camp due to his age, lack of professional experience, and need for increased strength, a breakout OHL season with the Oshawa Generals seems very possible, especially considering his strong finish to the 2011-12 season, when Laughton scored 18 goals in his final 39 regular season contests.
For now, Laughton was happy to soak up his first taste of the NHL.
“I didn’t know what to expect, just coming into my first camp, getting to know people and the coaches and guys. It was a great week.”
A great week for Laughton, and a great week for the Flyers, as they watched their newest first rounder take his first steps towards justifying his new team’s selection.