Flyers Director of Player Development Ian Laperriere traveled to both Ontario and Quebec recently to watch some playoff games in two of the Canadian junior leagues.
While there he spoke to several scouts from other teams, and too a man they all said the same thing.
“They told me, ‘You have the best player in the OHL,’” Laperriere said. “It’s always good to hear that – especially from guys from other organizations.”
And the player they were talking about is a player Flyers fans got to see a little bit of this season, but should expect to see a lot more of in the future:
Laughton, still just 18, started the season with the Oshawa Generals in the OHL back in October, left the team briefly in January when the NHL season started, to try to make the Flyers roster, which he did.
He played five games with the Flyers, then went back to Oshawa and was the best player on his team, in his division, and arguably, the league.
“He took the right attitude when he went back to junior,” Laperriere said. “A lot of guys don’t. They let it bother them. Not Scott. He went there and was the leader there and put that team on his shoulders.
“I talked to his coach D.J. Smith. He said he came back and was a great leader for the team– unfortunately he got suspended, and it cost the team in the playoffs, but he was excellent.”
Laughton earned a five game suspension in Game Two of the second round of the OHL playoffs after he cross-checked Barrie Colts forward Zach Hall into the boards, breaking his nose.
With Laughton watching from the stands, the Generals were no match for the Colts and were swept out of the playoffs.
“We had a great group of guys I thought,” Laughton said. “ It was tough to lose like that, especially when you sit in the crowd and cant do anything about it. It was tough to swallow, but it was a good year.”
To say the least.
You won’t find Laughton among the scoring leaders in the OHL this season, but that’s because he only played 49 games out of 68 for Oshawa.
He missed 10 games for a suspension earlier in the season and missed seven more while with the Flyers.
Still, he posted 23 goals and 33 assists for 56 points in those 49 games, good enough for second on the Generals for the season.
He especially got hot after returning from his stint with the Flyers, and literally carried his team offensively in ways that only the best players in a league can do.
“It was an unbelievable experience,” Laughton said. “The past year, to get a taste of my dream and play in the NHL and do those things was really incredible.
“When I went back to Oshawa, I don’t know if I changed a lot. I wasn’t getting many bounces at the start of the year. And after the NHL I came back and my numbers got better and it made me more confident.”
Laperriere said the most impressive change in Laughton’s game from the time he had him in development camp last summer to where he was in the OHL playoffs was his speed.
“Every kid at that age you hope the speed picks up,” Laperriere said. “And in the playoffs the kid was flying. He was in a different league. He was impressive. He was a fast kid here both in the development camp and when he played with the Flyers, but in the OHL playoffs he had a gear on everybody.”
Laughton is wrapping up his season playing with the Adirondack Phantoms. He has played three games so far and has a goal and two assists – his first professional hockey points.
After the three games this weekend that will close out the Phantoms season, Laughton is going to head home to Oakville, Ontario and train hard for the months of May and June before coming back to Philadelphia in July for another development camp with Laperriere.
From there, he plans to work out with the Flyers players throughout the month of August with the intention of making the big club permanently next Fall.
“I don’t know if I have expectations but I always want to be with the big team,” Laughton said. “Its always been my dream and I’m going to do anything I can and workout every day.
“I’m just going to train as hard as I can to get better every day. I’ll do anything I can to crack that lineup next season.”
And if what all the scouts told Laperriere is correct, it’s a good bet that if he does crack it, he’ll be there to stay.
To contact Anthony SanFilippo email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @AnthonySan37
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