The Philadelphia Flyers have avoided arbitration with up-and-coming center Noah Cates, the team announced Monday morning. The two parties have agreed on a two-year, $5.25MM contract carrying a $2.625MM cap hit.
Cates’ new contract buys two arbitration-eligible years and makes him a restricted free agent again in 2025 when he’ll also be eligible for arbitration.
The 24-year-old burst onto the scene in a big way during his rookie season. He was one of three Flyers to skate in all 82 games last year, and he finished top-15 in both Calder Trophy and Selke Trophy voting – impressive stuff for a fifth-round pick.
Born in Stillwater, Minnesota, Cates struggled heavily in the faceoff circle (39.5 win percentage) but was a defensive dynamo everywhere else, tying for the team lead in plus/minus with a +3 rating. He added 13 goals, 25 assists and 38 points, finishing eighth on the team in total scoring.
He also took on quite heavy minutes, playing nearly 18 minutes per game and facing some tough competition. In fact, he took on much of the defensive burden created by the absence of Sean Couturier, who missed the entire season with a back injury.
After Philadelphia cleared some space on the depth chart by dealing Kevin Hayes to the St. Louis Blues, Cates (along with fellow riser Morgan Frost) is slated for top-nine minutes again in 2023-24, although Couturier’s return should ease his role somewhat.
Cates also flashed solid offensive production during a 16-game stint with the Flyers to end 2021-22 after turning pro, recording nine points in 16 games. With some decreased defensive responsibility, could he build on some already solid production and turn into a bonafide top-six center?
It shouldn’t be the expectation, especially given his draft billing, but Cates has already displayed sustainable tools to become a long-term NHL center. If he can maintain his strong play away from the puck, his sub-$3MM cap hit is a great value signing for Philadelphia and general manager Daniel Briere.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman was the first to report the terms of the deal.