Laughton leaving Flyers

Scott Laughton was drafted with the 20th overall pick last June. (Keith Srakocic/AP file)

TAMPA _ The Flyers are sending center Scott Laughton back to his junior team in the OHL, GM Paul Holmgren said before Sunday's game against Tampa Bay.

Holmgren said it was a difficult decision, but that it was in Laughton's "best interest" to get more seasoning.

"He needs to play and needs to play in all situations," Holmgren said. "...The little bit of time he had here was good for him and good for us."

Laughton, 18, played five games with the Flyers, and if he had played Sunday, his entry-level contract would have started.

Tweeted Laughton: "Great experience with the @NHLFlyers and honored to be apart of such a great organization."

Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said Laughton "looked strong. He certainly hasn't looked out of place" in his stint with the team. "Defensively, he's been in the right position. He's physical, smart. He's gotten some scoring chances."

Laughton, the team's No. 1 pick (20th overall) in the June draft, played well but was scoreless in five games.

In the OHL, Laughton will rejoin Oshawa, which doesn't play again until Friday. Oshawa ends its regular season on March 17, and Laughton could return to the Flyers after his OHL team's playoffs end.

But that seems unlikely because the Flyers wouldn't want to burn off a year of his contract.

Holmgren said he had depth in the minors if recalls had to be made, and he praised the development of the Phantoms' Harry Zolnierczyk.

Leighton gets nod. Backup goalie Michael Leighton will get his first start of the season Sunday when the Flyers (2-3) play the host Lightning (3-1) at 6 p.m.