Friday, October 18, 2013

One To Watch: Philadelphia Flyers

The awful start to the season in Philly is enough for some Flyers fans to start looking closely at the depth of the organization to see if help is on the way. Fortunately there are some interesting players in the system but even the most staunch Flyers supporter would admit the prospect pool isn't as deep in Philadelphia as it is for most NHL teams. 

Rookie Nick Cousins is off to an impressive start on the farm with the Adirondack Phantoms. Ty McGinn and Michael Raffl have already been recalled to the big club. Plus, you could make a pretty good argument that Philly's top prospects are still in junior and college. 

2012 Choice: Anthony Stolarz - I thought last year was an interesting one for Stolarz as he moved from the NAHL to the NCAA. Then things got even more intriguing; Midway through the year the big goalie left Nebraska-Omaha for the London Knights of the OHL and ended up playing well into May as the club reached the Memorial Cup. This year the team hosts the tournament so Stolarz will be getting a done of action once again. 

My selection as One To Watch for Philadelphia in 2013-14 comes after the jump. 

Scott Laughton (C)
Oshawa Generals
6'1, 194 lbs
Drafted 20th overall in 2012

Photo: Terry Wilson
Last year the Flyers gave Laughton a 5-game audition before sending him back to junior in Oshawa. He didn't record any points but had an impressive camp and went back to the Generals riding a mental high. Laughton finished 2012-13 with the Phantoms and recorded 3 points in 6 games to close out the AHL season. 

I don't know about most Flyers fans but I expected much the same for Laughton at camp this year; some games in the NHL and then a probable return to Oshawa. I was very, very surprised than when Philadelphia cut the 19-year-old a day after the regular season began.

Photo: Getty Images
Laughton played in 5 preseason games and I'm sure he was hoping, if not flat out expecting, to play a bit in the regular season too. 

I really wondered how his return to the OHL would affect him mentally; would Laughton take it in stride or would he physically arrive in Oshawa with his mind still in Philadelphia. 

I was impressed to see Laughton's production early this year; 8 goals and 15 points in 7 games was enough to be named OHL Player of the Week shortly after he began playing for the Generals.

Photo: IIHF Images
Moving forward, can Laughton continue his torrid scoring pace? Is he destined to play in Sweden at the 2014 World Junior Championship for Canada? Do the Generals, boosted by his return, now consider themselves contenders or will they deal Laughton before the January 10th trade deadline? If he's traded, where does the Oakville native end up?

I like Scott Laughton a lot and there are a lot of opportunities this year for him to really establish himself as a top prospect in the CHL. That's why he's my choice for One To Watch in 2013-14 for Philadelphia. 

Up Next: Tampa Bay Lightning     

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