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2018-19 Player Review: Scott Laughton continues to be a productive member of the bottom six

The 25 year old may have hit his peak, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a productive player for this hockey team.

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

When Scott Laughton was drafted back in 2012, the hope was there he could be sort of a Mike Richards replacement with his great defensive abilities and emerging offensive talent. The Oakville, Ontario native was the 20th overall pick in the draft and after a few years of not really having a solidified role on the Philadelphia Flyers, it appears he’s finally found it. Gone are the expectations that he’ll be a top six player at some point in his career, and he can simply focus now on being a top notch bottom six forward. It’s not the sexiest role, but a needed one.


By The Numbers

Basic Stats

Games Played Goals Assists Points PIM Shots on Goal Shooting Percentage
Games Played Goals Assists Points PIM Shots on Goal Shooting Percentage
82 12 20 32 53 130 9.2

A key stat missing here is the number of souls taken, but we’ll skip that I guess.

Laughton set career highs in games played, goals, assists, points, shots on goal, and average time on ice this season. It was a big year for the forward in his age 24 season as he essentially played his second full NHL season after years of bouncing around. Laughton’s previous career high in points was 21 which he set all the way back in 2015-16, the first year of Dave Hakstol. Since then, Laughton played just two games the next season in Philadelphia, and 60 in Lehigh while the likes of [checks notes] Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Chris VandeVelde were staples in the bottom six.

Laughton will never be a top point producer and this season is about the peak of what we can expect from him in a bottom six role. He did get some time filling in the top six due to injuries this season, but assuming Chuck Fletcher acquires a permanent second line center like we anticipate he’ll try to, this hopefully won’t be something new head coach Alain Vigneault will have to resort to.

5v5 Individual Stats

Points/60 Primary Points/60 Shot Attempts/60 Expected Goals/60
Points/60 Primary Points/60 Shot Attempts/60 Expected Goals/60
1.55 1.11 10.83 0.7

5v5 On-Ice Stats

Score-Adjusted Corsi For % SA-Corsi Relative Corsi For % RelTM Score Adjusted-Expected Goals For SA-Expected Goals Relative Goals For % PDO
Score-Adjusted Corsi For % SA-Corsi Relative Corsi For % RelTM Score Adjusted-Expected Goals For SA-Expected Goals Relative Goals For % PDO
43.7 -4.37 -4.83 48.7 -0.05 42.86 98.93

Alright there’s a lot to unpack here. Something important to remember about this season for Laughton is his workload difficulty significantly increased. He did average the most minutes of his career, but the real difficulty lies in his zone starts. From a 54.59 offensive zone start percentage in 2017-18 where his Corsi was slightly above the breakeven point, to a staggering 42.52 percent this season. Although offense has never been Laughton’s primary strength, he’s received the offensive zone time to compensate that. This year however, he was relied upon for defense.

Even while knowing this, is the lack of play-driving from Laughton this year a concern? Yeah, a little bit. We don’t expect bottom six players to score, but to at least generate positive outcomes while the stars rest on the bench. Laughton didn’t do that this season, but he was given easily the toughest task of his career. Even in 2015-16 where he played 71 games, his OZS percentage was 57.62 over three percent more than last season.

His expected goals numbers were considerably better and this is encouraging to see. The numbers aren’t top notch by any means, but far less concerning than the play-driving numbers. Which to be fair, this team needs more players who generate high quality scoring chances and if that’s what Laughton can be rather than a prototypical Corsi machine, I think we can live with that.


Three Burning Questions

Did this player live up to our expectations for the season?

I think you could make the argument he surpassed them, especially from a point production standpoint. Laughton scoring 30 points was something I more hoped for than expected heading into the season. I certainly thought it was possible but not a guarantee. Again, his play-driving numbers were lacking this season and that has to be better, but I’m glad that we have a guy in the bottom six who can put up 30 point seasons. He didn’t have an astronomically high shooting percentage season to inflate his numbers, in fact he shot 0.01 percent less than last season. So can he continue this? I don’t see a reason why not, especially if Fletcher does indeed bolster the depth in the forward core by adding top six players.

What do we expect from this player next season?

I would expect him to stay in the 25-30 point range. If he doesn’t hit 30 again it’s not the end of the world, especially if it entails the top six and younger players such as Nolan Patrick and Travis Konecny reaching higher point totals. Also I’d expect him to bounce back in his metrics. This season was an adjustment for him and assuming he sees the same kind of usage next season as well, I’d imagine it becomes easier for him. Laughton, barring a surprise, will be back with the team next season as he is an RFA heading into this offseason. Bottom six players aren’t the ones we go to games to watch, but without strong depth, teams don’t win Stanley Cups. Keeping Laughton would be best for the team moving forward.

What would we like to see this player improve on?

His play-driving and penalty killing. Again, this season was an adjustment for Laughts and I do believe he’ll return to form in a sense next year. As for his penalty killing, I’d really like to see him become a force on the PK. His Corsi percentage was 63rd out of 113 forwards with at least 100 minutes of ice time on the penalty kill this season. It’s not horrible, but it’s not good either and if he could become one of the better penalty killers in the game next season to pair with Sean Couturier, it makes the team so much better off. If that does happen, the reliance of Claude Giroux to kill penalties along with be a first line forward and power play quarterback significantly decreases.

All data courtesy of Natural Stat Trick, hockey-reference, HockeyDB, and Corsica.hockey

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