The 2021 trade deadline is quickly approaching and Chuck Fletcher has played his cards close to his chest when he has talked about what he plans on doing on April 12. While the team has put him in quite a pickle lingering on the edge of the playoff bubble, the Flyers should consider adding if it makes sense, but also potentially selling on a few of their upcoming free agents.
Scott Laughton, who has been with the organization since he was drafted in 2012, is at the end of his current two-year deal that pays him $2.3 million a season. Chances are he’ll be looking for a pay raise this summer.
Laughton has aged like fine wine during his NHL career. After putting up more than a point-per-game with 87 in 54 contests during his last season in juniors, his transition to the NHL originally fell flat. He played 31 games in 2014-15 before being sent to the Phantoms for the rest of the year. He got another crack at the big club in 2015-16 with little success before Hextall reassigned him to Lehigh Valley for the entirety of 2016-17 with one mission- get better defensively.
Laughton did just that and has been a mainstay in the Flyers lineup since 2017-18 and has worn a variety of hats during his tenure. His scoring has been at a slight uptick over the past few seasons despite not passing is career-best 32 points from the 2018-19 season. He has been pliable in the lineup, playing anywhere from fourth line center to second line winger over the past 24 months and looks good doing so.
After the mountain he has overcome since his draft year, he’s still just 26 years old, 27 at the end of May, and could be an incredibly valuable piece for a playoff team that needs a cheap versatile forward in their lineup.
Dave Pagnotta of The Fourth Period stopped by Brotherly Pod a couple weeks ago for a trade deadline preview where he talked talked about Scott Laughton-
“He’d certainly be an attractive piece for a lot of teams because of the versatility. He’s got the physicality and can spark up some offense so he’s an excellent third line add for a contender”
The Flyers will know where their playoff hopes stand after their back-to-back with the Boston Bruins this week and if they don’t get the wins from those games being sellers makes more sense than being buyers. Even though the Flyers will miss a guy like Laughton, getting a high pick and maybe more from a desperate team like the Jets or Maple Leafs could be far more valuable than keeping him on the roster and potentially losing him for nothing during free agency this summer.
It won’t be an easy goodbye if Laughton leaves. Playing all 355 games of his professional career in Philly over almost a decade isn’t an easy thing to walk away from. But with the uncertainty that lies ahead for the Flyers, the fire sale may have to begin sooner or later, and with the talented players on easy to swallow contracts at a premium right now, selling high on Scott Laughton may make the most sense for the franchise, no matter how hard the separation might be.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
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