Given the array of talents Scott Laughton brings to the ice, there was good reason to believe the Philadelphia Flyers could have traded away the 26-year-old center before the deadline today. Instead, the Flyers secured a nice roster piece by inking Laughton to a five-year extension worth $15 million.
Truly, it has been a disappointing year for Philadelphia, but the Flyers still have a puncher's chance of getting to the playoffs (though they would have to pass Boston and fight off the Rangers in order to do so). The team's struggles have come in net, where Carter Hart has really sagged, while the power play and offense has just been OK.
In Laughton, the Flyers retain a hard-working center who leads the team in hits and has 17 points in 38 games - all of which have come at even-strength, with Laughton averaging less than 16 minutes per game of ice time. He also kills penalties and while the Flyers' PK stats are among the worst in the NHL, it should again be noted that some of that is on Hart, whose .781 save percentage while shorthanded is the worst of any goalie in the league with at least 15 appearances.
What the new Laughton deal does is provide some consistency up front for Philadelphia in the coming years, as Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher will have some big decisions on his hands. Captain Claude Giroux is slated to hit unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2022, as is key pivot Sean Couturier.
Meanwhile, younger forwards such as Travis Konecny and Joel Farabee have already made an NHL impact while the likes of Nolan Patrick and Morgan Frost are finding their way in the pro game.
Laughton brings a lot of versatility to the lineup, as he can play center or left wing. At $3 million, his new stipend is a nice raise from the $2.3 million he is currently making, but it's not enough to get the team in trouble at any point. He'll be 32 by the time the new contract expires and for a player who brings a jack-of-all-trades type of game to the ice, Laughton should be a solid middle-six forward for the duration.
This hasn't been the season the Flyers anticipated, but there is a good team here and clearly Fletcher isn't panicking. In re-signing Laughton instead of trading him, Fletcher is showing faith in the process.