As trade rumors ‘start flying,' Laughton reminding Flyers of his value

As trade rumors ‘start flying,' Laughton reminding Flyers of his value originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Scott Laughton knows this time of year all too well.

He has played for the Flyers his entire NHL career, starting over 11 years ago as an 18-year-old.

But that doesn't mean it never came close to ending and starting again somewhere else.

On the day of the 2021 NHL trade deadline, then-general manager Chuck Fletcher woke up not knowing if the Flyers were going to deal Laughton to another club or give him a contract extension. Despite "a lot of interest" from contending teams, the Flyers re-signed Laughton to a five-year, $15 million deal.

The 2024 deadline is 22 days away and once again Laughton's name has hit the rumor mill.

"It weighs on you a little bit, especially probably my wife [Chloe] a little bit more so than me," Laughton said Wednesday. "You build something here, you build a life here, you build some very close friendships and relationships. In the spot we're in, you want to be a part of this, be a part of the playoffs and get on a little run."

The Flyers have surprised just about everyone this season, a year that was widely viewed as a rebuilding campaign. They entered Thursday holding a playoff spot at 29-19-6, only three wins away from surpassing last season's total (31-38-13). With 28 games to go, they're in third place of the Metropolitan Division and have a 78.9 percent chance to make the postseason, according to's probabilities report.

The Flyers went into this season having missed the playoffs in three consecutive years for the first time since 1989-90 to 1993-94, when they went five straight without a postseason berth. After losing 139 games the last three seasons (81-107-32), the Flyers publicly embraced a rebuild in the summer, led by first-year president of hockey operations Keith Jones and new full-time general manager Danny Briere.

That rebuild has looked expedited, but Briere has said the organization's future-centric vision hasn't changed.

So when TSN's Darren Dreger reported on Feb. 1 that the Flyers were taking calls on Laughton, it wasn't particularly surprising. Briere has been open-minded since Day 1, willing to "listen on everybody."

"When the rumors get out there, too, they start flying and then people grab ahold of them," Laughton said. "I've had those internal conversations with people around the organization, I think I know where I stand. I'll keep it at that. Continue to work hard and see what happens."

Scott Laughton
Scott Laughton

Last season was John Tortorella's first as the Flyers' head coach. He developed a good relationship with Laughton, making him the only Flyer with a letter on his jersey. Laughton went on to put up career highs in goals (18), assists (25), power play goals (five), shorthanded goals (three) and minutes per game (18:17).

"He's an important guy," Tortorella said Wednesday. "He's well-respected. He's a Flyer. Intangibles that he brings ... he cares. And I think that rubs off on people and he has a really good personality for a team concept.

"He's an important guy, but it is what it is where we're at as an organization. It is what it is. We'll just see what happens as we go here the next few weeks."

Tortorella has been honest about the Flyers needing to stick with their plan if a tough decision comes the front office's way at the March 8 trade deadline.

"It's the part of the process we're in as a team," Tortorella said. "We can't look for things not to continue our process. We have so many things to do, so much more of the process to build this team that we can't be getting too emotional. If it's the best thing for our future of our team in building it the proper way, we have to follow through. We have to. The guys know it, we've been very forthright publicly about this. We need to stay with it."

Entering Thursday, Laughton has seven goals and 16 assists through 54 games. He has turned things on as the trade noise has heightened. In the Flyers' four-game winning streak out of the extended break, Laughton has two goals, an assist, seven shots, nine hits and five blocked shots. He has seen some minutes on the power play, as well.

On the season, Laughton has committed a team-high 18 minor penalties, so he knows he can be more disciplined. But what makes him effective is his playoff-like aggressiveness and grit. The Flyers feed off those qualities. He has shown them while playing four fewer minutes per game this season compared to last.

Tortorella has given him credit for hanging in there despite his minutes fluctuating. But make no mistake, Laughton wants to play more.

"I think it bothers you internally," he said. "You obviously want to be out there getting an opportunity and playing in key situations. But there's nothing I can do about it. Control what you can control, be a good teammate and go out there when you're called upon. That's what I've been doing and continue to go the same way as I've been going here after break."

Scott Laughton
Scott Laughton

If the Flyers are to seriously listen to suitors about Laughton, one would think they'd aim for at least a first-round draft pick in return. He's a 29-year-old who can play center or winger, on both special teams and is highly valued in the Flyers' locker room.

"I think Laughts wants to play," Tortorella said. "He's a guy that has lost some ice time this year, has had some inconsistency in his game, has found it a little bit. I think he's loving the time that he's getting a little bit on the power play now, scores a huge power play goal the other night. I just think he's into it."

Through the good and bad, Laughton has been emotionally invested in the organization.

"If you're being a player talked about, you must be doing something right. You should feel really good about it," Tortorella said. "I don't think any of the guys, I don't want to speak for them, but I don't think any of the guys that have kind of been out there with our team, maybe being looked at, want to leave.

"I know Danny, myself and Jonesy aren't looking to move them. We're not actively saying, 'Here he is.' But if it works out that it is the best for the building of this team, we have to follow through. That's why I have tried to be as honest as possible with our team because I think they deserve that respect; I don't think they should be surprised. Some teams, they just kind of sit, sit and then kind of bounce it on you. I will not do that with our players. I have too much respect for what they've done, so I want to be totally up front. That's the way we've gone about it here."

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