Last Wednesday, Cates filed for salary arbitration, joining a list including 21 other NHL players. All the hearings for the players electing arbitration will take place between July 20th and August 4th. This agreement allows the Flyers to avoid the wait and conversation with a third party.
Cates impressed in 2022-2023. In 82GP, he scored 38 points (13G, 25A) as he quietly became a footer in the foundation of the Flyers’ rebuild. He thrived away from the puck, earning a few Frank J. Selke Trophy votes. In the race for the Calder Trophy, Cates finished ninth.
After a short stint at the end the 2021-2022 season, Cates proved to John Tortorella that he was ready for a full-time NHL role during the 2022 Flyers Training Camp, making the opening night roster. His responsibilities on the ice grew. Tortorella couldn’t rely on Kevin Hayes at C in the defensive zone, switching him to LW for Cates. At the University of Minnesota-Duluth, Cates played LW.
Proving to be a reliable talent, trusted in any scenario, Cates is a great fit in a Tortorella lineup. In a banged up lineup, Cates flashed a potential 1C ceiling with the Flyers. The overall health of the lineup is routinely questionable over the last couple of seasons, and Cates possesses all the tools to fulfill that role during the rebuild.
He won’t light up the scoresheet on a nightly basis, but Cates is skilled in the finer, grittier details that breed team success. A tenacious forechecker who disrupts opponents in the defensive zone, Cates is also improving at the faceoff dot. Cates is similar to a young Sean Couturier, and will earn more Selke Trophy votes throughout his career.
Other young players took a leap forward last season, but Cates showed maturity and the ability to adapt to a different position in the NHL. The upcoming season might not feature a boom for the Flyers in the league standings, but Cates will continue to evolve; playing a major role as the franchise works toward the future.
Joining Ronnie Attard, Cates is the second Flyers restricted free agent to agree to an extension. Daniel Briere will continue to negotiate with Cam York, Morgan Frost, and Olle Lycksell in an effort to reach contract extension agreements.
(AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)