Oshawa Generals v Peterborough Petes

Will it be AHL or NHL for Flyers’ Laughton next season?


After shining at the junior level, Philadelphia Flyers prospect Scott Laughton is a t a fork in the road: he’ll either reach the NHL or play in the AHL during the 2014-15 season.

There’s no doubt that the 20-year-old would prefer to go the NHL route, yet he seems to have a good attitude about the process, at least judging by what he told CSNPhilly.com.

“I got sent back to junior this year, and took it pretty well,” Laughton said. “I tried to play to the best of my ability, and just tried to get better every day. I’m still pretty young, I just turned 20, and I want to play in the league 15 years from now, not play when I’m 20 and be out of the league soon. I’m going to develop the best I can, and hopefully I can make a roster spot. If not, then that happens and I move forward.”

The 20th pick of the 2012 NHL Draft actually appeared in five games during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, drawing some solid lessons from that time (even though he failed to score a point).

Laughton didn’t appear in an NHL game last year, so it’s reasonable enough when he claims that he’s made some huge strides since the last time he saw fleeting NHL action.

The CSNPhilly.com piece points out that Flyers GM Ron Hextall resists the urge to rush prospects, however, so the organization might have a tough call to make for the 2014-15 campaign.

“That’s a tough call,” Head coach Craig Berube said. “The thing with a player like that is you don’t want to hurt his offense, and he’s an offensive player. He’s a good two-way player, but there’s been guys -– Joe Thornton started on the fourth line in Boston — that developed into a highly skilled offensive player. I think it just depends on the situation. I keep saying it, but it’s what’s best for the team at the time. If it’s best that he makes the team, and he’s deserving of making the team, we’ll make that decision.”

DiMaio named Blues’ director of player personnel

via St. Louis Blues
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The St. Louis Blues named Rob DiMaio their director of player personnel on Tuesday.

He’s been with the organization for some time. He joined as a pro scout in 2008 and was the pro scouting director starting in August 2012.

He was also a scout for the Dallas Stars before landing with the Blues (one would assume his biggest connection is GM Doug Armstrong, then).

In case his nose didn’t give it away, he also enjoyed a lengthy hockey career over 19 seasons.

No doubt about it, this is a pivotal season for the Blues after multiple campaigns in which strong regular seasons dissolved into playoff disappointments. Perhaps DiMaio can make a difference in a heightened role?

Hitchcock going to more aggressive attack for Blues

Ken Hitchcock

ST. LOUIS (AP) After three straight first-round playoff exits, the St. Louis Blues have learned to temper expectations.

They have been consistently among the NHL’s best in the regular season and realize it is past time to build something for the long haul. The sting still lingers from the latest failure, against the Minnesota Wild last spring.

“We’re all disappointed, everybody can agree on that,” defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. “It’s never easy to kind of think about your failures, but we grow every time it happens.”

Management isn’t ready to tear it all down yet.

“We play, in my opinion, one of the toughest if not the toughest division in the NHL, and we’ve finished first or second in the last four years,” forward Alexander Steen said. “So we have an extremely powerful team.”

Maybe a change in strategy will be enough: Coach Ken Hitchcock is back with a mandate for a more aggressive, even reckless, style of play from a roster that hasn’t changed appreciably.

“We’re coming hard from the back and we’re coming hard to see how close we can get to the attack,” Hitchcock said. “I think it’s where the game’s at; I think it’s where the game’s going to go.”

The 63-year-old Hitchcock is pushing forward, too, unwilling to dwell on the flameouts. Coach and players agree that would be “wasted energy.”

“My opinion is when you sit and think about the past, you do yourself no good,” Hitchcock said. “If you learn from the past, that’s when you do yourself a whole bunch of good.”

There were only two major roster casualties. Forward Troy Brouwer came from Washington in a trade for fan favorite T.J. Oshie. Defenseman Barret Jackman, the franchise career leader in games, wasn’t re-signed.

“If you were expecting 23 new faces to be on the roster this year, I don’t think that was realistic,” captain David Backes said. “We’re going to miss those guys in the room and on the ice, but there has been some changeover and I think it’s pretty significant.”

Things to watch for with the Blues:

GOALIE SHUFFLE: Just like last year, there’s no true No. 1 with Brian Elliott and Jake Allen sharing duties. The 25-year-old Allen missed a chance to seize the job last spring when he failed to raise his level in the playoffs.

TOP THREAT: Vladimir Tarasenko had a breakout season with 37 goals and was rewarded with an eight-year, $60 million contract. The 23-year-old winger is by far the Blues’ most dangerous scoring option and said he won’t let the money affect his play. “I never worry about it,” Tarasenko said. “If you play good, you play good.”

NEW FACES: Brouwer and center Kyle Brodziak add a physical element that was perhaps lacking a bit last season. Brouwer has three 20-plus goal seasons and Brodziak, acquired from Minnesota, fills a checking role. Veteran forward Scottie Upshall got a one-year, two-way deal after being coming to camp as a tryout. Rookie forward Robby Fabbri, a first-round pick last year, will get an early look. Another promising youngster, forward Ty Rattie, begins the year at Chicago of the AHL.

RECOVERY WARD: Forward Jori Lehteri bounced back quickly from ankle surgery and opens the season without restrictions. Another forward, Patrik Berglund, could miss half of the season following shoulder surgery.

TRACK RECORD: The Blues won the Central Division last season and Hitchcock, fourth on the career list with 708 regular-season wins, has consistently had the team near the top of the standings. “He is our coach, tough cookies if you don’t like it,” Backes said. “From my experience, he puts together one heck of a game plan.”