Pointing out Scott Laughton's season turned around after he sacrificed his body for the good of him team sums up what he's all about rather nicely.
In the grand scheme, it was probably random. Back on Nov. 25, the 17-year-old centre had a big shot block that gave his Oshawa Generals an emotional jolt during a big road win over the rival Ottawa 67's. Coincidentally, Laughton has been a point a game player ever since with nine goals and 19 points in his past 17 games as he bids to upgrade his draft status. The Oakville, Ont., native was 40th in NHL Central Scouting's midterm North American ranking that was released two weeks ago.
"I think just continuing to show that I'm a complete player," says Laughton, who's also established himself as a trustworthy defensive forward. "I just need to play both ends of the ice and pick up my offensive game, I think the defensive game comes to me normally. It's picked up in the second half here. I have two really good linemates, [New York Rangers prospect] Christian Thomas and [Los Angeles Kings prospect] Andy Andreoff and we're playing well together. It feels really good."
Laughton endeared himself to many observers by taking some ownership in the Generals' offence during the period after Christmas when when teammates Nicklas Jensen and Boone Jenner were away at the world junior championship. It was a bit of a window into the Gens' future, as it's easy to picture Laughton being their future captain, a capacity he often filled in minor hockey.
"Guys need to step up when someone leaves and I think we all did that," says Laughton, who played his minor hockey with the Toronto Marlboros. "We won 5-of-6 games with Nick and Boone gone and [rookie centre Cole] Cassels also away at the U17. It was a fun time and we're looking to make a playoff push here."
Laughton, who has good size at 6-foot-1 and 178 pounds, is not overly flashy. Ultimately, but he is the quintessential solid player who could go anywhere from the late first to third round, depending on a particular NHL scouting department's tastes. It says a lot for him that the Generals, with NHL draft picks such as Jenner, Jensen and Phoenix second-rounder Lucas Lessio on hand, trust him to kill penalties and take key draws. Laughton also has benefit of being able to lean on drafted teammates such as Thomas to keep the hype from being a distraction.
"We're pretty tight off the ice and that helps," Laughton says of Thomas. Any questions I have for him, he knows the answer. He's told me just to play my game and just focus on what you do best."
1. You have often cited Mike Richards as a player you try to model your game upon. Why him?
"I think he just plays the right way. He's a good Canadian guy who always seems to play well near the end of the season, plays in playoffs. He wins draws, he's on the penalty kill, he does everything to help his team win. He's a leader and that's why I look up to him."
2. In your mind, what would scouts say is the biggest area of your game you have to improve before you can turn pro, aside from the obvious like improving speed and strength?
"I think I just my offensive game and my creativity. I think I have shown that in the past couple games. Obviously speed is a big one, too, going to the next level everyone."
3. Outside of family, who has had the most impact on your hockey development?
"Probably my [Toronto Marlboros] minor hockey coach, Dan Brown. He coached me for seven years. He's taught me everything about the game and just everything I know today."
4. When you were very young you went in goal and apparently it did not work out so well?
"Ya, I always wanted to be a goalie but it didn't work out. I was bad. I definitely let in a couple weak ones and allowed double-digit goals. I was about six or seven at the time. I kept asking my dad and he wouldn't let me. I think I was just having fun."
5. What is the worst movie you have ever watched on the team bus?
"This year's been pretty bad movies. We've watched the same ones a couple times. We've watched Blue Crush a couple times. It's pretty bad."
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet (photo: OHL Images).