Sean Couturier was all of 18-years-old last season when he earned a spot on the Flyers' opening day roster.
Same age as their newest rookie centerman, Scott Laughton.
Coach Peter Laviolette would tell you that the difference between Couturier then and Laughton now was that Coots had an entire preseason worth of NHL games for the coaching staff to evaluate from.
And we threw Couturier in everywhere, Laviolette recalled. We threw him on the PK, we threw him out there with skilled players, checking players. ... We gave him an opportunity and the opportunity he always thrived in.
So, thats whats missing here with Scott. We just havent been able to give him the opportunity to play in the game.
Laughtons evaluation platform consisted entirely of some games with his junior club in Oshawa and six days of Flyer practices.
With young players, you want to make sure you do the right thing, Laviolette said. Again, I think he's had a good camp, and he doesn't look like he's out of place by any stretch. He does a lot of things well.
Laughton, who was the Flyers first-round pick in last Junes draft, made the final cut on Friday, and will get at least get five games to further prove himself.
Hes a smart player, Couturier said. He seems to understand the defensive side of the game where youve got to pay attention to all the details and what it takes to go and approach those details. Thats a big thing that will help him.
The 6-foot, 190-pound rookie from Oakville, Ont., fills an immediate void as Danny Briere will miss a couple of games recovering from a hairline fracture of his left wrist.
That has helped Laughton propel himself from a fourth-line role when camp began to centering Wayne Simmonds and Matt Read when the Flyers open Saturday against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Wells Fargo Center.
Laughton looks and acts like a player older than a teenager. He doesnt seem nervous, either.
My nerves were pretty high my first day and theyve gotten better every day, Laughton said.
Staying with the guys has been great for me and really comfortable. If I have anything to ask theyre there for me so its been really good with these guys.
I'm already in midseason shape and game shape, so I think that it's a little bit of an advantage coming in.
He didnt think hed get a look from the Flyers given the lockout and some other issues.
Definitely, I was a little bit surprised, he said. I was out for 10 games this year with a suspension and it was tough with world juniors and things like that. But I knew anything was possible.
Laughton was not picked for Team Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championships. Team USA won the gold medal over Sweden in Ufa, Russia earlier this month.
Definitely disappointing, Laughton said of his non-selection. I didn't get invited to camp and it's tough. You always want to represent your country.
But going back to Oshawa, I got a lot of opportunities and I think that really helped my game and part of the reason I'm here right now.
Veteran winger Scott Hartnell took Laughton in when he arrived in Philadelphia. Whether Laughton remains his roommate in Old City remains to be seen.
Hes been huge, just getting comfortable with all the guys and hes such a great guy, learning about everything it takes to be a pro, Hartnell said. Hes been unbelievable for me.
Laughton says Hartnell made for a smooth transition here.
Definitely, he said. Hes a great teammate and a great guy. Hes kind of taken me under his wing and helped me get comfortable with not only him, but all the guys.
Hartnell was impressed with how Laughton looked this week in camp. Less than two dozen junior players were invited to NHL training camps this month.
Laughton is burly or thick as coaches often say. He can play physical and held his own in junior with 12 fights in three years.
That he is defensively responsible was a huge plus.
I want to play defense because it comes naturally to me, he said.
Thats what Laviolette likes to see in any rookie on his team. Offense comes later.
He's a great skater, Hartnell said. He's really shifty right around that net and, from what I've heard, the best is yet to come when he plays a game. He's got great hockey sense and he's strong on battles.
I can't wait to see him play his first game. He reminds me when I was 18, too. You really don't know what's going on.
Not surprisingly, the hardest adjustment this week for Laughton was trying to get the Flyers systems down.
Laviolette promised he would lay it all out on the table and hope his players could digest as much as possible in a short amount of time.
Everythings different coming in from juniors, Laughton said. Learning new systems right off the bat in a new camp, so thats definitely different and just trying to learn those as quickly as I can.
If Laughton stays here past five games, hes automatically on the roster for the season. His three-year, entry-level deal has a cap hit (salary and bonus) of 1.137 million.
I just try to control what I can do. I mean, I cant control what they decide and I just want to continue playing my game and hopefully it takes care of itself.
Flyers captain Claude Giroux liked what he saw of him this camp.
He's impressive just the way he plays, Giroux said. He plays hard. And he's a really good kid, too. We're having a lot of fun with him.
E-mail Tim Panaccio at firstname.lastname@example.org