In talking with people in the organization who have watched Laughton play at Oshawa in the OHL this season, they are really impressed with his game and they think he could be NHL ready right now.
With that said, I think Laughton, the Flyers first round pick in last year's draft, has a shot to not only be at camp, but, much like Couturier last season, win a job on the team. People have asked me for a roster surprise, well, that's it in my opinion. Laughton makes the team.
On his NHL readiness, I'll defer to those who have watched him play. All I can go off of are his 32 points in 30 games with the Oshawa Generals, third-best on the team.
But for me, it's a pretty simple question: Why burn a year off of Laughton's valuable entry-level contract in a 48-game season? We talk about this every year to some extent with young guys out of camp, but this year it's even more pronounced. It's not that a 48-game season is a throwaway or anything, but when you're up against the cap every year like the Flyers are, ELC's provide a ton of wiggle room.
Do we want Laughton getting a raise in 2015-16 or in 2016-17? We have to weigh that cap savings against the impact that being in the NHL for a 48-game season would have of Laughton's development. I'm not saying he shouldn't be here for camp, or even that he shouldn't get a 10-game look in the NHL.
But rushing a guy into the NHL could have a negative impact, and again, it's only a 48 game season. Limited ice time in a shortened season might not do all that much to help him -- certainly not the same gain he'd see over an 82 game season. Consider that Danny Briere, Claude Giroux, Brayden Schenn, and Sean Couturier are all ahead of him on the NHL depth chart. He'll barely see the ice. What's the value?
Couple all the factors together, and I say let him finish out the year in Oshawa. Bring him in for the week-long camp, maybe let him get a few NHL games under his belt depending on how camp goes. But then, ship him back to the OHL before we burn a year off of his contract and give him a nice hard look in a full training camp come September.