The Philadelphia Flyers signed collegiate free agent Jackson Cates on Tuesday afternoon to a two-year, entry-level contract with an average annual value of $925,000 per season. The contract will begin this season and Cates will become a restricted free agent at the end of the 2021-22 season.
Cates is a 23 year-old center who spent the last three seasons playing at the University of Minnesota-Duluth alongside his younger brother and fellow Flyers prospect Noah Cates. Noah was a 5th-round draft choice of Philadelphia back in 2017 and captained the Bulldogs this past season.
Cates recorded 27 goals and 37 assists for 64 points in 96 games with the UMD Bulldogs, helping lead the team to two consecutive Frozen Four appearances. That was highlighted by a National Championship victory in his freshman season in 2019. Cates scored 11 goals and 16 assists for 27 points in 28 games this past year for Minnesota-Duluth, setting NCAA career highs in both categories and ranked second on the team in total points scored.
Before he made his NCAA debut, Cates was a standout in the USHL with the Waterloo Blackhawks. He posted 44 goals and 84 points in 113 games. 33 of those came during his second season where he truly broke out for the team.
Cates has also appeared in a Flyers uniform before when he participated in the team’s Development Camp in the summer of 2019 via camp invite, and now he will have an even larger opportunity to prove his worth to the Flyers organization after a very successful NCAA career.
Cates will likely report to the AHL’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms to begin his professional career and become adjusted to the pace and grind of the professional level of the sport.
Perhaps the signing of Jackson will convince his brother Noah to sign his entry-level contract as well, as the younger Cates remains unsigned after UMD’s loss in the Frozen Four to Massachusetts this past week. There has been an expectation that he will sign soon as well, though.