Laughton's Demotion Will Serve Him Well
Yesterday, center Scott Laughton returned to the Oshawa Generals of the OHL for the second consecutive year. However, last year's stay lasted a full five games, and this time around, zero.
19-year-old Laughton failed to crack the lineup in favor of forwards Adam Hall and Jay Rosehill against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday. If he could not beat Rosehill or Hall in the lineup, why keep him around?
Thus, the move.
Management throughout the league will have to deal with the tough decision that comes with junior players. Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly, a supremely talented player at just 19 years of age, has not found a lineup spot, but many hockey pundits believe he possesses too much talent to return to juniors.
Winnipeg Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba will likely stick around, and will arguably be their best defenseman.
If a junior-eligible player plays over nine games in the NHL, then they will lose a year on their existing entry level contract. To GM Paul Holmgren, it simply wasn't worth the risk to keep a fringe forward on this team.
Many pundits tout how important Scott Laughton will be to the future of the Flyers. Problem is, Laughton will not be a top-notch scoring centerman. His highest point output in juniors came last year when he scored 56 points in 49 games. No doubt a strong output, but just not an elite output.
Comparatively speaking, arguably an NHL top six forward, Brayden Schenn dominated in his last year with Saskatoon (WHL), scoring 53 points in 27 games. Laughton has not had that kind of offensive success, so he will likely project as a third line center.
As the Flyers' roster currently stands, this team already owns an extreme depth at center. That fact alone will likely continue to keep Laughton from playing any meaningful minutes for a while. This situation could prevent Laughton from playing on the Flyers ever.
The current CHL-AHL agreement prevents players like Laughton to go to the AHL until they are 20 years of age. Once May 24, 2014 rolls around, Laughton will turn 20, and he will be better served by higher competition. Until then, he will toil in the OHL for yet another season.
Another year with Oshawa will do Laughton well. His added muscle and weight along with NHL training camp experience may allow him to potentially truly dominate at that level, and it may give him more confidence as an offensive player.
He can be proud that he made it farther than defenseman Sam Morin, but he will have the disappointment of being sent down again to motivate him to be a better player.