Up next...the Philadelphia Flyers
Scott Laughton - Oshawa Generals
Laughton was fantastic this year, helping to lead the Generals to a surprising first place finish. His leadership this year has to considered an integral part of that. Laughton has developed into an elite all around player whose game has so many different components to it. He can beat you off the rush, with improved speed and improved confidence in his ability to drive the net. He can beat you in the corners and off the wall by working the cycle. He can beat you by forcing turnovers on the forecheck and by being an intimidating physical presence. He's going to tie you up one on one in the defensive end and is great at getting his stick in passing lanes, especially on the penalty kill. Laughton can just beat you in so many ways. I think one of the biggest differences I noticed this year was the increased confidence in using his shot from anywhere on the ice. He's really improved his wrister and it was a very dangerous weapon for him this year. With his intensity level, combined with Philadelphia's current cap issues, I'd fully expect Laughton to be a Flyer come opening day. I don't think we'll see him in the AHL. He's probably not going to get a ton of ice time, but if he could put together a 10/10 year in his rookie season with somewhat limited minutes, that'd be a big success I think.
Anthony Stolarz - London Knights
It was an interesting year for Stolarz, his second and final season in the OHL. He started off the season exceptionally well, but towards midseason things got a little dicey. After returning from the WJC's, he suffered a brutal injury, a deep laceration to his leg from a skate. He missed about a month and a half's worth of action, then returned just before the start of the OHL playoffs. Unfortunately, shortly after returning, he was suspended (for what ended up being the remainder of the playoffs) for swinging his stick at Windsor's Josh Ho-Sang. With another huge lay-off, he returned in the Memorial Cup but did not look sharp (considering he'd played only a handful of games in a 4 month span). The most impressive thing about Stolarz is how athletic he is considering his size. At 6'6, he moves very well in his crease and makes a lot of very acrobatic saves. He still has a tendency to over commit though, which causes him to give up some weaker goals. And his rebound control remains inconsistent. But he did appear improved this year before things started unraveling for him. He'll play in the AHL next year with Philly's new affiliate Lehigh Valley. It appears he'll split time with former OHL'er (returning from Europe) Rob Zepp.