Why the Laughton-Penguins note is nothing to blow out of proportion


Rival clubs typically don't do business with one another.

In fact, teams don't trade within their division much.

Since being hired as general manager of the Flyers in December 2018, Chuck Fletcher has made two trades within the Metropolitan Division. He sent minor-league goalie Jean-Francois Berube to the Rangers for future considerations in February 2020. The only major deal he has made with a divisional club was when he acquired Matt Niskanen from the Capitals in exchange for Radko Gudas and some salary retention during June 2019.

So the Flyers linking up with the Penguins at Monday's trade deadline would be surprising. But in his latest 31 Thoughts column — always a fantastic read for hockey folks — Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman wrote how he could see Pittsburgh having interest in Scott Laughton. You can read more about why right here.

Now that would not be terribly surprising. Ron Hextall is the general manager of the Penguins, who are in a playoff spot and eyeing a postseason run. Hextall was the general manager of the Flyers during Laughton's early days with the club, when the 2012 first-round pick was between the AHL and NHL and figuring out what kind of player he would be at this level. Hextall is a big fan of Laughton. He protected Laughton in the 2017 expansion draft after having him play a year at AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley for more development time.

Laughton then found his niche at the NHL level and has become a crucial piece to the Flyers' group of forwards. His name is starting to pop up in trade buzz because he's 26 years old, a pending unrestricted free agent with a team-friendly cap hit, possesses qualities any contending club would want and the Flyers haven't met expectations.

Laughton, who could test unrestricted free agency for the first time ever in the offseason, has been in the Flyers' organization his entire pro career.

"It hasn't really crossed my mind," Laughton said Tuesday when asked about the trade buzz. "If that happens, it happens, but my focus is here in Philly. I love it here in Philly, I love the staff here, I love the guys here, so I'm focused on coming to work every day and trying to get better, push the pace a little bit and get a playoff spot."

The Flyers want to keep Laughton, but given their position in the standings with the deadline looming, they'll listen to offers. After all, he's an intriguing trade chip and it's possible they could lose him for nothing in the offseason. Many teams will be interested. Hextall knows Laughton well and the former Flyers GM peeking in on his availability would make sense.

But the Flyers' demands for Laughton should and will be high if they're going to part ways with a versatile and valuable player who sounds like he wants to be here. And if they're going to talk business with Pittsburgh, the asking price will undoubtedly be high. Could and would the Penguins meet the demands is the real question.

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