The Flyers sent center Scott Laughton back to his junior team Wednesday and promoted veteran Kris Newbury, a feisty center/winger, from the AHL Adirondack Phantoms.
Laughton, 19, the team’s first-round selection in the 2012 draft, could have stayed with the Flyers and would not have had his entry-level contract started until he played in his 10th game.
Instead, they decided he needed more seasoning and he was returned to Oshawa in the OHL.
“At the end of the day, you need to justify the amount of minutes you think he’s going to get and weigh it against the long-term projection of where you see him down the road _ and it just didn’t add up for us,” general manager Paul Holmgren said.
In the OHL, Laughton can “play a much more expanded role and continue to develop,” Holmgren said.
Newbury, 31, was acquired from the New York Rangers in the off-season for minor-league defenseman Danny Syvret. In 72 career NHL games with the Rangers, Detroit, and Toronto, Newbury has four goals and nine points, along with 132 penalty minutes.
“He’s a good energy guy,” Holmgren said. “…He’s a good player in the American League; he’s a role player who’s willing to mix it up, but he’s a good player.”
Drafted in the fifth round by San Jose in 2002, Newbury has appeared in 529 career AHL games, collecting 376 points and 122 goals to go along with 1,205 penalty minutes.
Coach Peter Laviolette called Newbury a “fourth-line, gritty player” and someone who can “hit and fight.”
Some view the 5-foot-11, 205-pound Newbury as an older version of Zac Rinaldo, a Flyers fourth-line winger.
“For sure,” Newbury said. “Obviously he brings a lot of energy, and we’re not afraid to get our noses dirty, so that’s the kind of hockey I’m looking to play here.”
While playing two preaseason games with Adirondack, Newbury was centering the team’s top line, with Jason Akeson and Tye McGinn as his wingers. Holmgren said Newbury is available to be used on the penalty kill, and that he has “the ability to move up” from the fourth line.
Newbury, who had an assist and nine penalty minutes in two preseason games with the Flyers, does not view himself as a scorer.
“Obviously it’d be nice to bang a couple in, but I don’t think they brought me here to really put points on the board,” he said.
At Thursday’s practice in Voorhees, Newbury alternated at wing on the fourth line, which was centered by Adam Hall. On a hard-nosed line that looks like it’s from the Broad Street Bullies era, four players _ Hall, Newbury, heavyweight enforcer Jay Rosehill and Rinaldo _ will jockey for three spots.
As for Laughton, last season he was in better shape than some players coming out of the lockout, and he played five games with the Flyers before being returned to juniors. On Wednesday, he sat out the Flyers’ season-opening 3-1 loss to Toronto.
Laughton is probably best suited to play in the AHL, but because he is 19, he must go back to juniors, where he is expected to dominate against younger players. Last season, he had 23 goals and 56 points in 49 games with Oshawa.
“He’s going to be a great player, no doubt,” captain Claude Giroux said, “but it’ll be good for him” to go down.
Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.