Photo by Amy Irvin/38 Photography
In a bit of a surprise move on Saturday afternoon, the Flyers have loaned Scott Laughton back to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. The team announced the move via Twitter. This means that Michael Raffl will almost definitely be returning for tomorrow night’s game in Buffalo, and also signals that Braydon Coburn could be on his way back. The return of both those players would mean that the Flyers need to remove a roster spot to make room.
There are several ways to look at this. Laughton had definitely been struggling as of late. He had 6 points during his 31 games in Philadelphia this season, and none since his return from a concussion. His possession stats were certainly not great, and it won’t be the end of the world for him to be used in a more prominent role in Lehigh Valley.
However, with his linemates during the most recent games being Ryan White and RJ Umberger, it could be argued that he wasn’t exactly put in a position to succeed. It could also very easily be argued that White should be the one heading to Lehigh Valley and not Laughton. White would have to clear waivers, but I’m not sure the Flyers would need to be concerned about that at all, as he cleared just over a month ago.
Ron Hextall has spoken about a long term approach very often. Hopefully this move is demonstrative of that approach. Rather than over-react to this, I’d give the Flyers the benefit of the doubt here. I’d like to think that the Hextall knows Laughton is more useful than Ryan White (or Zac Rinaldo), and probably has a bright future at the NHL level. With the Flyers where they are in the standings, it’s tough to get too upset about taking a long-term approach with a young and still developing player.