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Will the Flyers Revisit Scott Laughton Trade Talks This Summer?

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Almost going back to the expansion draft in 2017 for the Vegas Golden Knights, Scott Laughton has been mentioned in trade chatter almost every single season. There was slight uproar when then general manager Ron Hextall protected Laughton from the Golden Knights but it has almost worked out in spades for the Philadelphia Flyers since.

The second-longest tenured active Flyer, Laughton just finished his 11th NHL season and while it was a bag of mixed tricks, the veteran endeared himself to his new front office, coaching staff, and his teammates. Before the season began, Laughton trade rumours were rampant ahead of the NHL Draft. The Flyers reportedly had deals on the table involving late first round picks but chose against making those trades.

The Flyers hold him to the highest regard, Daniel Brière was nothing but complimentary about his impact on and off the ice after the trade deadline passed, and John Tortorella has showered him with praise almost from the get-go. While he might not have played to his first round moniker, Laughton brings about a lot of intangibles that the Flyers desperately need but more importantly what other contending teams covet.

As we enter another offseason filled with questions and mysteries, Laughton’s name will surely be on the minds of many opposing teams. Toronto, Ottawa, and Buffalo have scouted the soon-to-be 30-year-old a ton over the years and will more than likely pick up their phones yet again.

Toronto in particular has tried time and again but haven’t been able to get the Flyers to bend to their will. With another first round exit – their seventh in the last eight years – and an offseason that will be filled with changes, the Maple Leafs will look to add a feisty top-9 forward with aggression, tenacity, goal scoring capabilities, special teams skill, and defensive acumen – all things Laughton is known for.

The interesting thing about a Laughton trade is that his value never seems to drop. No matter the season, no matter his production or lack thereof, his value remains near sky-high because there’s a general understanding around the league of what he brings to the table on and off the ice. In other words, the first round pick that the Flyers were offered last year is most likely on the table this year. Considering he carries term and a very low cap hit of just $3 million, that makes it him more valuable.

Mike Augello of The Hockey News wrote a piece recently depicting Laughton as a trade target for the Buffalo Sabres:

“…Last summer, Adams was not willing to deal his first-round pick or youngsters such as Matthew Savoie, Jiri Kulich, or Isak Rosen, but now the thought is that the patient developmental approach will be abandoned and that Adams is looking to potentially make a move for a difference-maker who can play in the top six or a center that can provide a different aspect behind Tage Thompson and Dylan Cozens.

“Philadelphia signed Laughton to a five-year, $15 million extension in 2021, but with them in the midst of a rebuild, speculation began to pop up prior to March’s trade deadline that GM Danny Briere was considering dealing him for a younger forward or a first-round pick. In fact, the Sabres were rumored to be interested in the Oakville, ON native until their realistic chances of making the playoffs began to fade.”

Buffalo hasn’t made the playoffs since the 2010-11 season when they were ousted in the first round – ironically at the hands of the Flyers. Before that, they made the playoffs in 17 of their previous 23 seasons going back to 1987-88. Not only has it been 13 seasons since they last made the spring dance, but they haven’t gone past the first round since 2006-07.

The ownership group has been under pressure in recent years to finally get the team over the hump and after a very successful finish to their 2022-23 season – one that almost saw Buffalo slip in the Wild Card – they slipped in 2023-24, bringing about more questions than answers.

As Augello speculated, the Sabres could be desperate enough to make a splash for one of their longtime targets by parting with a young buck that would fit the Flyers core and rebuild seamlessly.

It would be absolutely shocking should they move on from Matthew Savoie, Jiří Kulich, or Isak Rosén, but assuredly that’s who Brière will be asking for. They have mentioned it on several occasions but they won’t trade Laughton for “fair value”:

“I wasn’t gonna trade him for fair value because he’s more than fair value to us,” Briere stated. “The intangibles that he brings to the locker room are something that has no price, and the other teams don’t see that, but we do. I told him that…someone would have to overstep and really knock it out of the ballpark for us to consider it.

“I had a lot of teams interested in him, as you can imagine. There’s not a lot of centermen. He’s a good one, so it’s a good thing for him. Teams around the NHL still value you, so I think that’s exciting for him, but not good enough for us to let a player like that go who is critical to the development of our locker room and our young guys around him.”

Not to mention that the Flyers players implored Brière to hold onto Laughton for their playoff run, otherwise Buffalo was right on their tail.

If the Flyers could pry away one of the Sabres’ better prospects, that would be seen as a wild victory for Brière and company. The three names that Augello mentioned are all top notch youngsters and while he didn’t say the Sabres were looking to deal one of them for Laughton specifically, you’d have to imagine a conversation will be had. Even if Brière has to add a little something extra, it’s something to consider.

Savoie was drafted 9th overall in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, four picks after the Flyers had drafted Cutter Gauthier. He scored 35 goals and 90 points in 65 games for the Winnipeg Ice of the WHL during his draft year before adding 38 goals and 95 points in 62 games the following year. He took a much needed step forward during the postseason after scoring 11 goals and 29 points in just 19 games.

His 2023-24 season was split between the Wenatchee Wild and Moose Jaw Warriors of the WHL, the Rochester Americans of the AHL, and one game with the Sabres. He combined for 30 goals and 71 points in just 34 games in the WHL and has amassed 24 points in 19 playoff games for the WHL champions in Moose Jaw.

Kulich was drafted 19 picks after Savoie at the tail end of the first round. He tallied 9 goals and 14 points for Karlovy Vary HC of Czechia before making an immediate splash for the Americans in the AHL in 2022-23. He scored 24 goals and 46 points in his first taste of North American hockey before tallying 27 goals and 45 points in 57 games this past season.

Rosén was drafted 14th overall in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft with the pick that originally belonged to the Flyers but was sent to Buffalo as part of the Rasmus Ristolainen trade. After a quiet 2021-22 season in his native Sweden, Rosén made the jump to Rochester in 2022-23 and scored 37 points in 66 games but then added 8 points in 14 playoff games.

This past season, he improved to the tune of 20 goals and 50 points in just 67 games and appeared in seven NHL contests but was held without a point. The 21-year-old is slowly blossoming into another scoring option for a Sabres pipeline that also has Zach Benson, Noah Östlund, and Jack Quinn among several others. They were also tabbed with having the best pipeline/system in the NHL by The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler.

Laughton’s value will continue to remain high even if the Flyers keep him for the entirety of the 2024-25 season. It will diminish ever so slightly since he would be playing on an expiring contract in 2025-26, but the NHL respects his game and Brière doesn’t seem to be someone who backs down from his asking price.

If Buffalo is on the other end of the phone this summer, Brière and company will assuredly be trying to pry someone from their top ranked pipeline. It would be a tough loss for the Flyers lineup and locker room, but to be able to add to your own pipeline while moving a veteran who needs a new contract in a couple of years is something that absolutely needs to be considered, should the opportunity arise.

Flyers fan born in the heart of Leafs nation

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