Scott Laughton has found his game for the Flyers

(Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
(Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images) /

He doesn’t make headlines, but Scott Laughton has become an important piece for the Philadelphia Flyers with his solid play.

For years, it didn’t look like Scott Laughton was going to cut it at the NHL level. It seemed that the Philadelphia Flyers had whiffed on the player who they selected 20th overall in the 2012 NHL Draft.

Players taken in that range are expected to be impact NHLers within two or three years, maybe even on their way to developing into a star befitting their initial lofty draft slot. You could tell that the Flyers were hoping that Laughton would become an excellent two-way player in the mold of Mike Richards before him.

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But he didn’t.

After playing in 71 games during the 2015-16 season at the age of 21, Laughton was shipped back to the AHL for a reset. He’d only appear in two games for the Flyers that following season, and it was beginning to seem like it might already be too late for him, at least in Philadelphia. Maybe a trade was in order for a change of scenery.

But Laughton earned a spot back with the big club for 2017-18, playing in all but one game. He even managed to crack the 10-goal mark. Still, if that’s all you’re getting out of a player five years after you drafted him in the first round, it’s underwhelming to say the least.

To Laughton’s great credit, however, he started to show last season that he can have value despite the fact that he’ll never be a big scorer. Yes, the 32 points he managed in 2018-19 were nice, but he also seemed to clear some sort of invisible hurdle. He began to be a leader, and his ice time and subsequent responsibilities increased as a result.

Last season was when Scott Laughton went from a merely passable fourth-line player to an excellent fourth-line player who is good enough to play on higher lines if and when needed. And it’s something that the Flyers have ended up needing from him this year due to the absences of Nolan Patrick and Oskar Lindblom.

Now, game in and game out, Laughton delivers a consistent effort and is one of the highest-energy players on the team. He logs the third most ice time per game in shorthanded situations among the Flyers’ forwards, and he continues to be good in the faceoff circle.

In the Flyers’ most recent game on Monday in Detroit, Laughton opened the scoring with a quick shot from the slot. It would prove to be the game-winner in the 3-0 victory. The goal also marked the first time in Laughton’s 300+ game NHL career that he has managed to score in three consecutive contests. It’s a nice little carrot for his solid play.

He’s sitting at nine goals on the year at this point, and those have come in just 33 games, as he’s missed some time with injuries. But he’s healthy and effective right now, and he is a key member of this Flyers team that will need him to contribute in multiple ways over the season’s remaining two months.

It took quite a while, but Scott Laughton has finally found his place, and the Flyers are reaping the benefits.

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Laughton is a prime example that just because things don’t turn out the way you were expecting them to doesn’t mean that they can’t turn out well.