By trading down in the 2016 NHL Draft from pick no. 18 in the first round to pick no. 22, the Philadelphia Flyers were able to turn their 79th overall selection into an early second round pick at slot 36. With that pick, they chose Pascal Laberge, a forward out of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, who many had pegged as a first round talent.
Today, the Flyers gave the youngster yet another vote of confidence, signing him to his first NHL contract. The team announced late this afternoon that they had signed Laberge to an entry-level deal, with the standard three year length.
Because Laberge plays in Canadian junior hockey, the contract can "slide" for the next two seasons if Laberge does not make the big club either year. Barring an early entry into the NHL, the contract will begin during his first AHL-eligible season at age 20.
Laberge showcased a promising set of skills at the team's development camp earlier this month, and definitely looked the part of a talented prospect.
In terms of all-around skillset, I'd say that Laberge was the second-best forward at the camp after Travis Konecny. Everything is crisp -- his passes have zip, his shots were generally well placed, and he showed nice burst coming in and out of his breaks. He has a very slight frame (reminiscent of how Sanheim looked back in 2014), but the skills are definitely there.
In rush drills and scrums around the net, Laberge definitely looked to pass more than shoot, which was a tendency noted by scouts prior to the draft. Still, as long as he's creating chances, it really doesn't matter too much who is the one that buries them. Laberge will definitely need some development, specifically from a weight training standpoint, but there's real potential here.
He'll absolutely need to bulk up before he's truly a threat to make the NHL roster, but the future looks bright for Pascal Laberge. He took another step towards achieving his goals today.