Scott Laughton darted down the ice and snapped a wrist shot past goaltender Cal Heeter Monday morning at the Flyers Skate Zone.
The goal was merely part of a shooting drill during the opening of Flyers Prospect Camp, but it offered both the smattering of fans on hand and Flyers management their first look at Laughton practicing in a Flyers sweater. Laughton, the Flyers’ top selection in the 2012 draft last month, is among 43 players participating in the weeklong camp. The players range in pedigree from camp invitees to high draft picks such as Laughton.
The camp’s roster features 13 players drafted by the Flyers and 11 players who appeared for the Adirondack Phantoms last year. The latter group includes defenseman Brandon Manning, the only player in camp owning NHL experience. Manning played in four games with the Flyers in March.
There also are 21 camp invitees, including several with direct ties to the Flyers organization. Ian Laperriere, the Flyers Director of Player Development, stressed that the camp’s purpose is not an audition, but a time for players to seek improvement.
“My point with this camp is that we’re here for you guys,” Laperriere said. “I don’t want you to try to win a job here. I want you to find something to try to improve yourself as a player individually.” He said players aren’t going to win or lose a roster spot based upon their performance in camp, nor does management expect them to be ready to play at the NHL level right now.
“We expect them to pay attention to detail and to pay attention to us,” Laperriere said. “When we tell them to do something, do it right. Listen to us. That impresses the big guys more than having a great slapshot or being in top shape.
“You shouldn’t be peaking on July 8. You should be in your transition, working a little bit harder and everything, but there’s no excuse to not pay attention to detail.”
Laughton, an 18-year-old center, said he did not have any specific expectations for the camp other than trying to learn from all the former professionals at the helm.
As the 20th overall pick, Laughton said the feeling of being drafted by an NHL team only began to sink in once he traveled to Voorhees and hopped onto the ice Monday.
“It’s a surreal feeling,” Laughton said. “It hasn’t really sunk in, but it’s just been an unbelievable experience.” Laughton is among six players drafted by the Flyers in 2012 participating in the camp. That group also includes goalie Anthony Stolarz, an 18-year-old New Jersey native selected in the second round.
Stolarz, who had several friends watching from the stands, said he just wanted to get his legs underneath him Monday and get through his first practice.
“I’m just going to enjoy it and take it in,” Stolarz said. “It’s my first camp. Just go with it and see what happens.”
While participating in a prospect camp was new for many players, guys like Oliver Lauridsen and Manning are camp veterans.
Manning, who scored 19 points (6 goals, 13 assists) in 46 games with the Phantoms last year, said he’s using camp as a foundation for his offseason training. He said he hopes to earn a spot with the Flyers during training camp. Yet as someone with NHL experience, Manning said he knows younger players will look up to him.
“If anyone has questions or doesn’t really know what’s going on, you want to be the guy to help out or make it easier on them,” Manning said. “I know if I was 17 or 18 and coming into a big city like this I’d definitely ask a few questions and be a little intimidated. So whatever I can do to make it a little easier on them this week, I’m definitely willing to do that.”
The camp is the fourth one for Lauridsen, a seventh round pick in 2009. Like Manning, he said it’s his role to assist the younger players, but he expects to learn something, too.
“There’s always something you can learn,” said Lauridson, a 23-year-old blueliner. “The coaching staff that we have at camp is amazing. You just listen. They’ll teach you something. It doesn’t matter how old you are.”
The camp runs through Sunday, with Wednesday featuring the annual Trial on the Isle in Stone Harbor, N.J. It concludes with a scrimmage Sunday morning at the Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone. All sessions are free and open to the public. They begin at 9 a.m.