Waiting in the Wings: Philadelphia Flyers Prospect Report

Three of the Philadelphia Flyers top prospects are Scott Laughton, Shayne Gostisbehere and Robert Hagg. Each man represents the future of the Flyers organization. With the future so bright, Paul Holmgren, Ron Hextall and the rest of the Flyers brass “gotta wear shades!” A team that already averages an age of 28.48 years, a twenty-year-old, twenty-one-year-old and nineteen-year-old respectively will only ensure longevity and success for the Flyers.

Philadelphia Flyers Prospect Report

Scott Laughton

Laughton, the Flyers first-round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, is the next in line to make the team. He has had the excitement of being on not one, but two opening night rosters so he has some experience of being with the big club. He has played a total of five games with Philadelphia (all of which came in the lockout shortened 2012-13 season). In a recent interview for CSN Philly, Laughton commented on his experience: “That was huge, to get a taste of five games, especially in the lockout year, when the fans were so crazy. I know Philly’s fans are so passionate. It was awesome.”

Last season, Laughton played for the Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League. He amassed 40 goals and 87 points in a mere 54 games. With his highly explosive level of play, he excelled above and beyond the competition. Laughton is a two-way center whose primary skills are on the defensive side of the ledger. So to see this scoring ability come about was quite surprising. It is a sign of a hard-working player whose consistent approach to the game has developed plenty of savvy and hockey smarts. To be fair, Laughton is not as highly skilled as other team’s top prospects. It remains to be seen how he’ll develop in this area and if his scoring prowess will translate in the NHL.

Laughton was captain of Canada’s 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship team. “It [WJC] was like the NHL experience,” Laughton went on to say. “You’re playing against the best guys in the world, and to be able to captain and have a leadership role like that I thought I took it pretty well.” Laughton has brought that leadership to the Flyers prospect development camp. He has carried himself quite well and has been a role model to younger players within the camp. He has accepted everything that has been asked of him and is doing whatever necessary to make the club. It will be an uphill battle, with the likes of Claude Giroux, Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier and Vinny Lecavalier already manning the center ice position. Laughton’s focus is to raise his overall game.

Shayne Gostisbehere

In the third round of the same 2012 Draft that saw the Flyers take Laughton, Gostisbehere (a name that will undoubtedly go down as one of the coolest names in hockey history… if you can pronounce it) was selected No. 78 overall. The offensive-minded defenseman was a terrific selection to ultimately replace an aging Flyers defense core. With Kimmo Timonen’s future now in doubt with a scary diagnosis of blood clots in his lower right leg and both lungs, some thought that Gostisbehere might be spring-boarded right into the spotlight.

However, Hextall signed Michael Del Zotto to a one year, 1.3 million dollar contract. Del Zotto will have 1st crack to turn around a still fairly young career and fill Timonen’s skates.Signing Del Zotto is a fantastic decision by Hextall; now Gostisbehere can be properly reared in the AHL. If he should falter, Gostisbehere’s number is surely to be called. “Going into camp, I think it’s everyone’s mindset that they want to make the team. I mean, of course I wanna be [there] but through my development, I want to take it step by step” (ESPN Radio, July 2014).

Gostisbehere is a colligate athlete, playing for the Union College Dutchmen of the ECAC. He capped off his stellar college career with one goal, two assists and a plus-7 rating against top-seeded University of Minnesota in the championship game at the Frozen Four (which ironically was played at the Wells Fargo Center). He totaled five points in two games at the Frozen Four, guiding the Dutchmen to their first NCAA hockey championship. He was awarded the Most Outstanding Player award in the process.

The tournament ended with some time left in the AHL schedule. Most players would have celebrated on campus, reveling in the glory… but not Gostisbehere. He went right back to work and played in two games for the Adirondack Phantoms; skating along side Robert Hagg (we’ll get to him later). “It was a great experience just being a pro for those two games,” Gostisbehere said of his time in the AHL. “It was great to adapt to the speed and see the transition from college to pro. It was a great learning experience” (Flyers TV, July 2014).

A good portion of Gostisbehere’s learning is focusing on the defensive side of his game. His offensive skills are key without question, but his lack of size means he needs to work harder than a six foot, 200+ pound defender (he stands at 5’11” and weighs a buck seventy dripping wet). He says his proudest moment of the NCAA title game was blocking a shot that led to a goal. Helping to refine his all-around game, Kjell Samuelsson, who works in Philadelphia’s department of player development, has been teaching Gostisbehere the ins and outs of how to be a successful defenseman on the NHL level.

Robert Hagg

Hagg, a 2013 second-round pick, could be just as close as Laughton to making the club. He illustrated a seamless transition to North American hockey in ten AHL games after skating with Modo of the Swedish Hockey League. Surprisingly, he’s enjoyed the speed and physicality of the North American game. “It’s going a lot quicker over here, and it’s a lot more physical so you have to be prepared every time you hit the ice. That’s the biggest part, it’s going much faster. Every time you touch the puck, you have to know what you’re going to do with it” (Flyers TV, July 2014). Hagg played well in those ten games, posting up 1 goal and 3 assists with a +1 rating.

Hagg checks in at 6’2” and weighs 203 pounds. He is a player who shows at times all of the attributes of a top defenseman. [He] has very good skating ability with quickness, agility and power and he’s able to use it to his advantage. Good puck play and has a good shot. Good awareness and is a player who can play in all areas of the game. Is capable of being dominant at times and as he develops his game, could find himself in a top pairing and playing in multiple important situations during the game” (Craig Button, TSN Scouting Report June 2014). With this skill set and size, Hagg could find himself checking forwards in the NHL very soon.