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2017-18 Player Review: Scott Laughton should be 3C next season

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He didn’t post the most points, but Scott Laughton did work for the Flyers this season

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at Ottawa Senators Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

This time last year, Scott Laughton was looking to take advantage of an NHL roster spot he earned after he spent a season in the AHL. Following the 2017-18 season, Laughton is now looking to possibly be the Philadelphia Flyers’ third line center for the 2018-19 season. A 20-point season won’t draw a lot of attention, but Laughton was able to drive play on a regular basis and served as a better option up front on the penalty kill compared to what the Flyers had down a man in 2016-17.

Laughton, Michael Raffl, and Taylor Leier formed one of the best puck possession lines Philadelphia pieced together this year, as The Honey Bees tilted the ice in favor of the Orange and Black early on in the season. Perhaps a bump up in the lineup to play alongside Oskar Lindblom and Wayne Simmonds in the top nine moves Laughton from a quarter-a-point-per-game player to a half-a-point-per-game player.

Basic Stats

Games Played Goals Assists Points PIMs Shots Shooting Percentage
Games Played Goals Assists Points PIMs Shots Shooting Percentage
81 10 10 20 42 108 9.3

Laughton didn’t exceed his career high in points, but ten goals is his highest total for an NHL season. Not too bad considering he essentially didn’t see NHL action last season, as he only played in two games during the 2016-17 campaign failing to record a point and posting just four shots on goal. Over an entire season, 108 shots doesn’t seem like that much, but considering his 7.66 individual shots per 60 was the second-highest among the ten forwards who saw 700 5-on-5 minutes behind Travis Konecny, Laughton did a good job of generating shots in the ice time he was given.

5v5 Individual Stats

Pts/60 Primary Pts/60 Shot Attempts/60 Expected Goals/60
Pts/60 Primary Pts/60 Shot Attempts/60 Expected Goals/60
1.21 1.06 12.14 0.69

These numbers illustrate why Laughton’s season was a success. When it came to producing chances, the only Flyers’ forward who played in 700 5-on-5 minutes or more that had a higher shot-attempts-per-60 rate was Travis Konecny with 13.62. For perspective, Laughton had the same shot-attempts-per-60 rate as Jakub Voracek and Sam Reinhart. Individual expected goals-per-60 isn’t as easy to replicate as shot attempts, but Laughton produced high-end chances (at a very nice rate) without necessarily getting rewarded for it. Laughton posted the same iXG/60 as Justin Williams, Mikkel Boedker, Pierre-Luc Dubois, and Alex DeBrincat (and higher than Voracek and Claude Giroux), but scored less 5-on-5 goals than any of these forwards. It’s easy to say all these forwards are well ahead of Laughton in terms of offensive upside, but an argument to can be made he (as well as The Honey Bees) deserved some bounces.

5v5 On-Ice Stats

Score-Adjusted CF% Score-Adjusted Rel CF% CF% RelTM Score-Adjusted xGF% Score-Adjusted xG Rel GF% PDO
Score-Adjusted CF% Score-Adjusted Rel CF% CF% RelTM Score-Adjusted xGF% Score-Adjusted xG Rel GF% PDO
51.77 2.22 2.37 50.81 -0.26 39.22 95.5

Just more proof Laughton didn’t receive the most luck this season. Despite posting great a score-adjusted Corsi For percentage and score-adjusted relative Corsi For percentage, Laughton had a lowly 39.22 Goals For percentage. With an expected Goals For percentage of 51.39, Laughton had the biggest negative disparity between expected Goals For percentage and actual Goals For percentage among the ten Flyers’ forwards who played at least 700 5-on-5 minutes this past season with -12.17. In fact, Laughton finished 279th in Goals For percentage out of the 299 forwards across the league that played in at least 700 5-on-5 minutes, while only 12 of those 299 forwards had a bigger disparity than his when it came to expected Goals For percentage and actual Goals For percentage. Laughton’s 95.5 PDO was the lowest among Flyers’ regulars by a considerable margin, as Radko Gudas had the second-lowest PDO for all Flyers skaters who saw 700 5-on-5 minutes or more this season with 97.1. Of all 473 skaters who played in 700 5-on-5 minutes or more this past season, only six skaters had a lower PDO than Laughton.

THREE BURNING QUESTIONS

Did this player live up to expectations for the season?

Yes. He came with the expectation of being a decent penalty-killing bottom-six forward. Not only did Laughton provide that, he potted double digit goals and formed one of the better puck possession lines the Flyers had this season . Our expectations for what Laughton’s ceiling is have changed since he was a first round pick in 2012, but after spending last season in the AHL honing his skills, he exceeded expectations this season.

What do we expect from this player next season?

The same play-driving success with possibly a bigger role. After showing Hextall he was right to trust him, it seems as though the Orange and Black’s general manager seems to have rewarded Laughton by giving him a shot to be the team’s third line center for the 2018-19 campaign. The former Oshawa General (Pierre McGuire, hello) isn’t the long term solution at third line center, as the Flyers have Morgan Frost and Mikhail Vorobyev nearing their time in the NHL, but there’s nothing wrong with letting Laughton run as the team’s 3C in a season where they should be winning a playoff series and maybe more. On top of potentially more 5-on-5 ice time, Laughton should be receiving a little puck luck this upcoming season.

What would we like to see this player improve on?

Without any glaring flaws in his game this season, the biggest thing for Laughton to improve on might be his point production. He did fine given his ice time and role this season, but with a potentially bigger role on the horizon his point totals need to see a rise as well. His shot generation numbers (individual shot attempts per 60, individual unblocked shots per 60, and individual shots per 60) were all fine, but hopefully he is able to find the back of the net a little bit more while tacking on some assists in the process. Not the biggest concern for a bottom-six center that drives play, but some more points would go a long way for his future with this team.