Given how his season started, Scott Laughton’s winning the award for most improved Flyer is, well, laudable.
Laughton didn’t score his first goal until Nov. 27. He missed 13 games in November with a broken finger, seven more in December with a groin injury, and yet still set a career high with 13 goals. He was one of the most versatile forwards in coach Alain Vigneault’s stable.
“I’ve always liked what Scotty brings to our team — that edge, that bite,” Vigneault said before play was halted. “He’s dependable at both ends. He’s just playing hard, and like the rest of our team, we put our work boots on and we come to work.”
Laughton’s plus/minus rating last season was minus-11. The year before that it was minus-10. In 2019-20, Laughton was plus-13.
“I’m seeing the ice different than in the past,” the 2012 first-round pick said. “I’m just moving my feet, trying to create plays and be good in the offensive zone and doing the same things [defensively]. Since coming back from the injuries, I’ve felt confident. It’s nice when you have personal success, but even better when your team is winning and you’re contributing to that.”
The most improved player award is named for former goalie Pelle Lindbergh and is voted on by Flyers players.
Laughton, a seven-year NHL veteran, has said the faith shown in him by Scott Gordon, the Flyers’ interim coach last season, did wonders for his confidence. Vigneault used him this season on the second, third, and fourth lines and as one of his top penalty killers.
Laughton even chipped in two game-winning goals. Before this season, he had one in the first 272 games of his career.
“It’s taken me a little bit longer to get my wheels [turning] and get comfortable in the league,” he said. “It definitely means a lot. I’ve put a lot of hard in to get better and create a role for myself.”
2019-20: Scott Laughton
2018-19: Travis Sanheim
2017-18: Sean Couturier
2016-17: Radko Gudas
2015-16: Brayden Schenn
2014-15: Chris VandeVelde
2013-14: Michael Raffl
2012-13: Jake Voracek
2011-12: Scott Hartnell
2010-11: Andreas Nodl