It’s not immediately clear the nature of Cates’ injury nor where or how he suffered it. In any case, this is a significant loss for a Flyers team that has impressed early this season. John Tortorella’s club currently sits third in the Metropolitan Division with an 11-9-1 record.
A center by trade, Cates most recently lined up as a left winger on Tortella’s third line, alongside center Ryan Poehling and right winger Joel Farabee. It’s been a more difficult season for Cates, who was excellent as a rookie last year.
A 2017 fifth-round pick by the Flyers, Cates looked to be a home run for the team’s scouting staff last season. The 24-year-old didn’t put up massive scoring numbers at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, save for in his sophomore season. But that didn’t stop him from scoring 13 goals and 38 points as a rookie, all while averaging 17:46 time on ice per game including nearly two minutes on each special teams unit.
That performance earned Cates votes for the Selke, Calder, and Lady Byng trophies, as well as the NHL’s All-Rookie team. He hasn’t been able to carry over that success into this campaign, though, and has seen his ice time decline.
This injury serves as a major setback in a campaign that, in its early stages, had the makings of a sophomore slump for Cates. Making $2.625MM through next season, the hope will be that Cates can return from this injury and re-discover some of the form that made him such a strong rookie in 2023-24.