In the previous development camp, it was easy to turn attention to the rookie defenseman. Aside from the final two games for the then Adirondack Phantoms, this was the first many were getting a look at Shayne Gostisbehere, the headliner of the Flyers defensive prospects.
What isn’t talked about nearly as much is talent up front. The Flyers do have it. And they could use it to provide a revival to the offense.
It won’t be long before development camp turns into full-on preseason practices and games. Two names that could make their way from trying out to making the roster are Jason Akeson – a playoff standout of sorts in the series against the Rangers – and Scott Laughton.
Akeson has shown signs of a goal scorer. He was one of four Flyers to score at least two goals in the series against the Rangers, getting goals in Game 2 and Game 7. In two regular season games – one in 2012-13 and one in 2013-14 – Akeson has one goal and one assist.
Akeson could very easily fill the roll that Michael Raffl had in the previous season. For Raffl, being a fourth-line noisemaker earned him a promotion to the top line in some games. Akeson could be that noisemaker this season.
“Hopefully I can make an impact on these guys and stick around next year,” Akeson said after the Flyers Game 7 loss to the Rangers. “That’s my plan going into next year and this summer, just working hard and making sure I’m in the best shape of my life.”
Laughton has put together a strong resume in development. He got a taste of the NHL in 2012-13, playing with the Flyers in their first five games.
Laughton just turned 20 at the end of May, so he knows patience is key to development, even with opportunity knocking already at the NHL level. That said, he took his development seriously last season.
After his brief NHL stay, he was sent back to juniors where he played for the Oshawa Generals. In 2012-13, he scored 23 goals and had 56 points in 49 games. He took it to another level last season, scoring 40 goals and putting up 87 points in 54 games. He was also named captain of Canada’s World Junior team.
Since those five games, there hasn’t been much thought given to bringing Laughton back to the Flyers. He had a disappointing preseason last year with the Flyers, which he thinks blew an opportunity. This year, he has to hope the Flyers have a spot for him.
“I got sent back to junior this year and took it pretty well,” Laughton said. “I just turned 20 and am trying to get better every day.
“I want to be in the league 15 years from now, not play in it at 20 and be out of it soon. Hopefully I can make a roster spot. But it I can’t, I will try to move forward.”
Instead of being in juniors, Laughton will likely be one of the players waiting in the wings with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. At some point, the Flyers will probably come knocking with an opportunity.
With scoring talent and two-way ability, Laughton may be the type of forward the Flyers need – young, eager, willing to learn. And there are plenty of mentors for Laughton, like captain Claude Giroux.
It wouldn’t be shocking if Akeson played the role of the young role in the early portion of the season before giving way to the true kid of the organization in Laughton.
The Flyers last youth movement – the debuts of Matt Read, Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier, all at the same time – worked out pretty well.
Laughton could be the spark in 2014-15. He just needs a chance and a place. It’s just a question of whether the Flyers have a place for two players trying to prove themselves.
Kevin Durso is the lead beat writer for Flyerdelphia. Follow him on Twitter @KDursoPhilsNet.