After trading two expendable players for future draft picks, Chuck Fletcher and the Philadelphia Flyers play the long game. At the deadline, Erik Gustafsson fetched a seventh-round pick in 2022, whereas Michael Raffl garnished a fifth-round selection in 2021. Today, in addition to acquiring two draft picks, the Flyers sign Jackson Cates to an entry-level contract.
While playing his college hockey at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, he increased his offensive productivity in every aspect, helped his team play on ice exponentially in the plus-minus category, and decreased penalty minutes committed annually. At the NCAA level, Cates’ game matured. Fletcher is right to sign him to a two-year entry-level contract this season. In college, Cates’ game improved as he played in fewer games each season. Cates’ rapid development could be what the Flyers are looking for in the system.
The left-handle center also has experience with the Waterloo Black Hawks of the USHL, but his production for Minnesota has been impressive. He amassed 27 points in 28 games this season, increasing from the 23 in 29 effort from 2019, and the 14 in 39 effort from 2018.
His brother, Noah Cates, is a left-wing formerly selected by Philadelphia. The Flyers still own his rights before offering an entry-level contract. After Jackson received his today, Fletcher could be keeping a watchful eye on Noah. Noah is the scrappier of the two brothers but was the captain of the University of Minnesota-Duluth club.
Two brothers who excelled with each other at the college level are common bait for NHL interest. That interest spawns from many general managers on a quest to secure the next Sedin brothers.
If Jackson’s signing swings Noah to Philadelphia when an offer is on the table, Fletcher may have found a great “under the radar” tandem in development.
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