The Philadelphia Flyers have taken care of one of their pending restricted free agents, agreeing to terms with Scott Laughton on a two-year contract. Laughton had filed for salary arbitration and had a hearing scheduled for the end of the month, but instead will sign a deal with an average annual value of $2.3MM.
A first round pick by the Flyers seven years ago, Laughton has slowly but surely grown into a valuable NHL player. The 25-year old set career-highs last season with 12 goals and 32 points while playing in all 82 games for the first time. Winning more than 54% of his draws and recording more hits than any other Philadelphia forward gave him a clear role on the team, especially when you consider his regular spot on the penalty kill.
Philadelphia has added some center depth this summer by signing Kevin Hayes to a long-term deal, which likely pushes everyone else down a peg for the upcoming season. That is an important thing to consider for Laughton’s future, given the Flyers’ group of prospects that will be pushing for a spot on the roster before long. Morgan Frost, arguably the team’s top prospect at this point is also a center, though the team could obviously start him on the wing at the NHL level whenever he gets there. They could also move Laughton over, but the term of this new contract is quite telling.
In two years Laughton will be an unrestricted free agent, giving the team and player a point at which they can choose to part ways if there is no longer any opportunity for him in Philadelphia. With Hayes under contract and both Nolan Patrick and Sean Couturier presumably in the team’s long-term plans, the Flyers are set down the middle for some time. These next two seasons will be a billboard for his eventual case as a center, or a chance for him to show he can be just as effective playing full-time on the wing.