This was by far the best season of Scott Laughton’s seven-year NHL career and now he’s looking forward to building on that.
But like many of his teammates, the Flyer forward’s first step on that staircase will have to be consistency.
Laughton started the postseason in fine fashion, especially in the round-robin tournament. Things cooled off in the Montreal series and early in competition with the Islanders. Then he caught fire again with two big goals late in the New York series.
If he can find a way to maintain the highs and reduce the lows, there’s a good chance Laughton will see more top-six forward playing time in the 2020-21 season.
In many ways, the 2019-20 season was a breakthrough campaign for Laughton, who played only 49 games yet set a career high with 13 goals and a career-best plus-13.
Teammates recognized this by voting him the Pelle Lindbergh Memorial Trophy for most improved player on the Flyers.
“I’m contributing on a nightly basis,’’ Laughton said during a media conference call on Tuesday. “I think this year, AV (coach Alain Vigneault) and the coaches gave me a role right from the beginning and I tried to stick to that and play to it.
“That’s definitely the best I’ve felt in my career, just confidence-wise. Being able to move pucks and skating. Definitely a good year for me that I enjoyed playing hockey and being with this group. I think team success has a lot to do with that. The way guys were playing and everyone was coming together. I feel a lot more confident in my game coming into next year.”
As for that consistency, perhaps a reunion with Kevin Hayes and Travis Konecny next season could play a part in achieving steady play on a nightly basis.
Laughton showed flashes of that during the playoffs.
“I think at the start in the round robin games, obviously they’re not really playoff type games. I thought we were trying to find our game and get better,’’ he said.
“(I) obviously had some good puck luck. Played with TK and ‘Hayesy’ and we had some good chemistry. I don’t know if I played awful in the Montreal series, but definitely didn’t play the way that I wanted to. Definitely had some big turnovers that could lead to some costly things in the playoffs.
“Going into the Islanders series, at the start, I couldn’t play the way I wanted to. Then (I) was able to find some chemistry with some guys and be able to have some goals. Just a different playoff for everyone. At the end of the day, got to be a little more consistent, trying to bring the same game and bring some energy.’’
Team-wise, Laughton saw a lot of good things this season.
“Biggest positive was just our team play,’’ he said. “We’re so much better than we’ve been in the past couple years – of holding onto leads, coming back in games, just overall the way we played together.
“Right before the pause there I thought we were really coming together and playing our best hockey. We just couldn’t get back to that level in the bubble.’’
If centerman Nolan Patrick returns from a year off due to a chronic migraine headache condition, it might allow Laughton to remain at wing where he’s done some of his best work in recent years.
And like all his teammates, Laughton would like to see Oskar Lindblom make a full recovery and return to the lineup.
“I think it’s huge,’’ the 26-year-old Laughton said. “I think you saw with Oskar there in Game 7, he started making some plays and I think he hit a post. He was starting to play the hockey that we saw in the start of the year. I can’t wait to see him come back next year and how he’s going to be.
“With Patty, I’ve been talking with him. Just excited to see where these two guys are at whenever we come back. I don’t think many changes need to be made with our group, but to have two of those younger guys to come back and play significant roles for our team, which they do, will be huge for us.’’