With a deep core of centers at the NHL level, Philadelphia Flyers prospect Scott Laughton knows it’s going to be tough for him to crack the pro roster. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t taking every opportunity to study his competition.
“I’ve been to (Claude) Giroux’s place a couple of times and he’s been good to me. I’ve also lived with (Scott) Hartnell last year,” he said. “All those guys are good sounding boards — to be able to talk to them, as they all played in the [NHL] at a young age as elite players, you can learn what they did and try to go from there.”
And the biggest piece of advice that they’ve given the former first-round selection?
“Just stick to your game — that’s been the big thing,” he said. “You can’t get over top of yourself or too down in situations like this.”
Situations like this was an opening-night exhibition season loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs’ prospects at the Budweiser Gardens in London, ON — a rink with which he’s familiar, and has enjoyed success as a member of the Oshawa Generals. Although Laughton played in key roles throughout the game — including killing penalties — he feels he wasted an opportunity.
“I think tonight was the first time that I didn’t have a point here, so that was rough,” he said. “I didn’t play to my ability, I don’t think, tonight — and it showed. Hopefully I can get back on track.
“I want to make the team. That’s the main goal coming here. I’m going to have to play better than that to show what I can do.”
Laughton said he’s noticed, even early in training camp, the difference in speed and size at the professional level.
“For me it’s just the time with the puck. The defensemen are better at their gaps — you don’t have as much time with the puck or in the zone. That’s been the biggest difference for sure,” he said. “I think you just have to be smart with the puck. You can’t turn over pucks in the neutral zone and causing your team to face odd-man rushes.
“It’s just being careful with the puck and not turning it over.”
While Laughton would obviously prefer to stay in Philadelphia this season, he admitted there are some opportunities at the junior level that he would like to take advantage of should he return to the OHL.
“I think World Juniors is a big thing too, trying to make that team if I go back,” he said. “ And I want to be a good leader. Hopefully I’ll be the captain if I go back to Oshawa and I want to be able to lead the guys the right way and teach them to play the right way.”
Laughton appeared in five NHL games last season and may get an extended look again this year. At 6’1 and a shade under 190 pounds, he’s been working on bulking up.
“I just have to work on getting stronger,” he said. “It’s a big league — guys are big, defensemen are big, so you have to get stronger and faster with the puck.”
Follow Jason Menard on Twitter via @JayCMenard