Laughton hopes to stick with Flyers this time

Posted: September 23, 2013

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. - Flyers center Scott Laughton got a brief taste of the NHL last season.

He wants more.

"I'm pretty excited about the opportunity, and this is what I've waited for all summer," said Laughton, 19, the Flyers' first-round selection in the 2012 draft. "And to have the roster trimmed down and still be a part of this is a pretty special experience, for sure."

Before the Flyers made massive roster cuts last week, the 6-foot-1, 191-pound Laughton wasn't sure he would survive.

"It's always in the back of your mind; you're always thinking about it," he said.

Laughton is one of 27 players remaining in camp, which resumes Sunday in Lake Placid. He was disappointed with the way he performed in his first exhibition game against Toronto, but thought he played better in the second one, also against the Leafs.

"It's still not where it needs to be," said Laughton, a defensively responsible player who appeared in five games with the Flyers last season before going to Oshawa (56 points in 49 games) in the OHL and later playing with the AHL Phantoms (three points in six games). "But I'm excited about the opportunity and hopefully I'll get into more games and see what I can do."

The last three exhibition games - Tuesday against the visiting Devils, Thursday in New Jersey, and Friday in Washington - may determine whether Laughton sticks around or is sent back to juniors. He could also stick with the Flyers for nine games and then be sent down, preventing his entry-level contract from starting.

"I think there's still another gear he can find in his game," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "When he came in last year, he was flying. He had played lots of games [in juniors] when our team was just getting off the mark from a lockout, so it's a bit of a different scenario for him. He comes in on equal grounds with everyone else.

"We'll get a better read and a better evaluation against lineups now, as opposed to the first three or four games . . . We'll see more NHL lineups and that will give us a better read on where Scott's at in training camp."

The Flyers have trimmed 31 players from camp. Of the 27 remaining, there are 15 forwards, 10 defensemen, and two goalies.

The Flyers will keep 13 or 14 forwards, and Laughton - who, as a 19-year-old, is not AHL-eligible this season - is battling Michael Raffl and Chris VandeVelde for a spot.

Laughton said he isn't counting how many openings are left, or watching what others do in camp.

"I focus on me," he said. "If I play the way I can, I think I'll be here for the year. At the end of the day, you just have to worry about what you can do to make this team, and that's all it comes down to."

Laughton is a natural center and he will stay there "at this point," Laviolette said.

"We want to see how he does at that position and how he tries out instead of putting him somewhere where he's not comfortable," Laviolette said.

The Flyers' four centers are expected to be Claude Giroux, Vinny Lecavalier, Sean Couturier, and Adam Hall. They have an opening at left wing, and Laughton is not against playing there.

"It would be a new experience and I'd be open to the challenge," he said, "but for now, playing center is comfortable to me."


 

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