Scott Laughton will make his NHL debut on Saturday. He's made the Philadelphia Flyers roster. The 2012 first round pick has had a good camp by all indications, but when talking about him making the team, let's make sure we frame this properly.
If Danny Briere were in the lineup, Scott Laughton would almost certainly not be.
Briere's lingering hand injury gives the Flyers an extra roster spot (assuming they place him on IR) and more importantly for Laughton, an extra spot at the center position on the depth chart. Laughton can stay in the NHL for five games before a year of his entry-level contract is burned if he plays game six, so it's sort of a no-brainer: Why not give the kid a look?
But as we mentioned before camp started, it doesn't make much sense to keep him here beyond those five games. Sure, it looks like Brayden Schenn has moved to wing and that alleviates a bit of the log jam organizationally at the center position, but Laughton's still just 18 years old and this is still just a 48-game sprint. Briere's going to back sooner than later -- he's been skating and his prognosis looks good -- and Laughton's playing time will be limited.
Five games is not even close to enough time to judge whether or not Laughton truly deserves to be one of the 12 forwards on this team at the NHL level. Unless he absolutely leaves Paul Holmgren and Peter Laviolette zero choice but to keep him (like Sean Couturier did a year ago, for example), it's still smart to send him down.
Let him get an NHL taste, send him back to a very good Oshawa team in the OHL and then give him a nice, long look in September at a full training camp. That's a win-win for everybody.