Scott Laughton better clear some space in his trophy cabinet, because he is cleaning up this week as the Philadelphia Flyers announce their annual awards.
On Tuesday, Laughton won the Yanick Dupre Memorial Trophy, which is awarded to the player who exhibits the most “class” on and off the ice. While that award is chosen by the Philadelphia Chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, the award he won on Wednesday was voted on by his teammates.
Laughton was awarded with the Pelle Lindbergh Memorial Trophy, which honors the Flyer who demonstrates the greatest improvement over the course of the season. He missed 20 games due to injuries, but he still had the best season of his career. The veteran forward scored a career-high 13 goals and added 14 assists for 27 points in 49 games this season.
That’s an impressive mark for Laughton, who last season had 32 points (12 goals, 20 assists) in a full 82-game season. His totals from this season in just 49 games would have him on pace for 21 goals (nearly 22) and 23 assists for 45 points – all of which would be career-highs.
Laughton was playing a solid checking role before the All-Star break, but he had yet to provide much on the scoresheet. Between a broken finger in October and groin issue in December, Laughton recorded just 11 points (six goals, five assists) in 30 games. But he really picked it up after the break. From January 31st to March 5th (only excluding the final two games of the season), Laughton scored seven goals and added nine assists for 16 points in 17 games. He had points in 11 of the 17 games, including five multi-point games.
Laughton has also added a bit of snarl to his game. That came to a climax against Brady Tkachuk and the Ottawa Senators in December. Laughton chirped Tkachuk on the bench after scoring the late go-ahead goal, and the young Senator jumped him in the waning moments of the game.
He was also a part of the trio that mercilessly chirped Brendan Lemieux in late February.
Kevin Hayes laughs at Brendan Lemieux, who then gets chirped mercilessly by Travis Konecny and Scott Laughton. pic.twitter.com/CnnH8Gkxvv— Ryan Gilbert (@RGilbertSOP) February 29, 2020
It is moments like those that endear Laughton to the fans and his teammates, and makes him a glue guy for the Flyers.
The veteran forward has become an integral part of the Flyers’ bottom-six, even earning some time on the second line. But it wasn’t always that way. It’s been a long and winding road for Laughton, who has come a long way in the eight years since being drafted.
Laughton played in 107 games in the first three years of his career – including a five-game stint in his rookie season –, but he didn’t quite live up to the first-round hype with nine goals and 18 assists for 27 points in those 107 games. He was primarily playing on the fourth line, and that wasn’t doing him any favors.
He played in just two games with the Flyers in the 2016-17 season, when he was sent down to the AHL to work on his overall game. It was there that Laughton found his game and rebuilt himself as a strong, two-way center that flourishes in a checking role and can kill penalties.
It was a bit of a surprise when he was protected during the 2017 expansion draft, but that turned out to be a fantastic decision. Laughton played in 81 games in the ‘18-19 season, primarily as the fourth-line center. He had found his role, and he played a full 82 games in the ‘18-19 season, setting career-highs (at the time) of 12 goals, 20 assists, and 32 points. That was already a pretty big improvement for Laughton, who had two more goals, 10 more assists, and 12 more points than the prior season. His growth only continued this season as he became a legitimate middle-six option for the Flyers.
Laughton winning the Pelle Lindbergh Memorial Trophy was well-deserved. He isn’t a star player, but he has gone from borderline roster player to a nearly indispensable part of the team.
In Elliotte Friedman’s 31 Thoughts column from February 26th, shortly after the trade deadline, he had an interesting and amusing bit about Laughton.
“26. Another player I heard a lot of teams liked: Philadelphia’s Scott Laughton.
“Chuck (Fletcher) couldn’t hang up fast enough,” another exec joked.”
That quote alone shows how important Laughton is to the Flyers.