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With the 20th pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, the Flyers surprised some by taking center Scott Laughton despite high-ranked defenseman Olli Maata still available. Maatta went 22nd to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Though Laughton was ranked 24th in Craig Button of TSN’s final prospect rankings, his style makes him a perplexing pick for the Flyers.
He is a two-way center with defensive abilities that draw comparisons to former Flyers captain Mike Richards. Sounds great, except the Flyers already have three young players that are exactly that; Claude Giroux, Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier.
Though Giroux is an elite superstar, he is certainly a two-way player with defensive abilities. Schenn drew similar comparisons to Richards (and strangely enough, was traded for him). Couturier, along with his two teammate centers, proved his defensive abilities in the playoffs by helping shut down two of the world’s best offensive hockey players – Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Down the road, perhaps one of these players can switch to the wing instead of being relegated to the fourth line. Not many first-round draft picks aim to end up there.
On to the positives; the Flyers saw Laughton worthy of the same part of the draft where they took Giroux and Richards (and before that, Simon Gagne).
Pre-Draft Analysis (Published June 20):
The Flyers have the 20th-overall pick in the 2012 NHL draft. Their stellar history of drafting makes that position quite valuable.
Philadelphia was able to get Simon Gagne 22nd in 1998 and Claude Giroux 22nd in 2006.
With a plethora of youth on the offensive side, expect the Flyers to draft a defenseman in the first round.
Some defensemen who are likely to be available when the Flyers select include Slater Koekkoek, Matt Finn and Brady Skjei.