Joe Yerdon

Flyers’ 2012 first-rounder Laughton hopes to stay in Philly all year

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Flyers prospect Scott Laughton is hoping to leave a bigger, better impression on the team this year.

Laughton, the team’s 2012 first-round pick, had a five-game audition with the team last season. While he didn’t earn a point before being sent back to junior hockey, he tells Sarah Baicker of CSNPhilly.com he believes he’ll show why he shouldn’t go back this year.

“[I’m] definitely more confident, more comfortable,” he said. “I think I’m better in the offensive zone, definitely, and I think I’ve stuck with the defensive game — I’m not cheating the puck or anything like that. I think staying on the offensive side, I’ve been better for sure.”

What should help Laughton’s confidence even more is the fact GM Paul Holmgren believes he’s got the best shot to make the team out of camp.

Last season, Laughton had 56 points and 79 penalty minutes in 49 games for the OHL’s Oshawa Generals. That kind of output is well-rounded for junior hockey and makes him seem to be an ideal kind of guy for the Flyers.

Taylor Hall may start season at center

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Edmonton’s Taylor Hall may have been one of the league’s best left wings last season, but he may be starting this season out at center.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will miss most of October rehabbing his surgically repaired shoulder and the team will try out Hall and Sam Gagner as their top two centers.

Hall playing center isn’t a totally new thing. He’s done it in a pinch the last two seasons and has even had some success at winning faceoffs. Of course, it’s not the ideal place for him as he was one of the top point producers on the left wing last year with 50 points in 45 games. Taking a player like that out of their best position isn’t optimal.

The key part for Edmonton out of this, however, is that Nugent-Hopkins comes back at 100-percent. Rushing him back to action won’t do him or his shoulder any favors.

Report: Tom Gilbert may be headed for Switzerland

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Defenseman Tom Gilbert has been trying to land another NHL job since being bought out by the Minnesota Wild this year. Things haven’t gone so well on that front.

Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal reports the 30-year-old Gilbert may wind up overseas in Switzerland thanks to the lack of interest here.

Gilbert has spent seven seasons in the NHL, mostly with the Edmonton Oilers, and finished last year with the Wild. As a puck-moving, offensive-defenseman he’s gotten knocked for not playing physical enough, but his advanced statistics say he’s solid in the role he plays.

Should he not wind up headed abroad, a team like the Carolina Hurricanes could come knocking as they’ll be without Joni Pitkanen for an as yet unknown amount of time.

Caps re-sign Johansson; Two years, $4 million

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The Washington Capitals are now officially ready to start the season.

The team announced they’ve re-signed restricted free agent forward Marcus Johansson to a two-year, $4 million deal. He was the final player the Caps had to get inked to a deal before the start of training camp.

Johansson has emerged as a key player for the Caps as he found a home on the left wing of the first line alongside Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Ovechkin. That trio got things going when Ovechkin found his stride midway through the year on his way to a MVP-winning season. Johansson finished the year with six goals and 22 points.

This season, he’ll break camp hoping to keep his spot on that top line while also upping his offensive output.

Blue Jackets in no hurry to name a new captain

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Ever since Rick Nash was sent packing for New York City, the Columbus Blue Jackets have been without a team captain and they’re in no rush to change that.

Aaron Portzline of The Columbus Dispatch reports the team isn’t pressing to put the “C” on anyone just yet and defenseman Jack Johnson isn’t quite used to this sort of situation.

“This is the first time I’ve ever played on a team that didn’t have (a captain),” Johnson said. “Obviously, they’re going to take their time with it, and it’s up to them. But at some point, I feel like you do have to put a stake in the ground.”

Johnson could be one of the guys that eventually becomes the leader in Columbus. He along with Brandon Dubinsky are thought to be leaders in the clubhouse to eventually don the captain’s “C.”

Whoever does get the call will wind up being the sixth in team history following in the footsteps of Nash, Adam Foote, Luke Richardson, Lyle Odelein, and Ray Whitney.