Laughton has gone through his ups and downs over the past few seasons, but the organization seems to have renewed confidence in him after they chose to protect him in the expansion draft. It showed that they are looking forward, rather than protecting someone like Matt Read, or Pierre-Edouard Bellemare who was selected by the Vegas Golden Knights.
Laughton played in just two games with the Flyers last season, but found his game in the AHL with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. He thrived with Phantoms in a strong, two-way role in the top-six en route to a playoff berth. He recorded 39 points (19 goals, 20 assists) and was a team-high +17 on the season. He was doing it all for the Phantoms and even chipped in some offense while on the penalty kill.
The 23 year-old forward will likely have an inside track at one of the open fourth-line roles on the Flyers coming out of training camp. He is waivers-eligible, and the Flyers showed that they don’t want to lose him for nothing when they protected him from Vegas’ potential selections. However, there will be plenty of competition.
The Flyers have 13 forwards under contract for next season, and that doesn’t include prospects Oskar Lindblom and Nolan Patrick, add in Taylor Leier who looks NHL-ready and you have 16 forwards competing for 13 spots. Laughton will have to beat out Mike Vecchione, who is waivers-exempt to start the season, along with another veteran forward like Read or Dale Weise.
It’ll be interesting to see how everything shakes out come September. Ron Hextall has said that he is mostly done for the offseason, and that he wants the kids to take the open roster spots. If that is the case they could be looking to move one of their extra veteran forwards later in the summer, or even just before the season begins to create a healthy competition in training camp.
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