As the crazy part of free agency winds down, there are quite a few teams who still have some restricted free agents to deal with. The Philadelphia Flyers are one of them, having Noah Cates, Morgan Frost, Olle Lycksell, and Cam York left to deal with. The team doled out qualifying offers to each player as we wait to see who may accept and what their new contracts will look like.
Around the league, there were 22 players who filed for salary arbitration. Noah Cates was one of them. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the two sides won’t eventually come to a deal. However, it does mean that Cates isn’t satisfied with the first offer that came his way. According to Cap Friendly, Cates’ qualifying offer was $874,125. It’s understandable that Cates did not like the offer as he was making $925K this past year.
So what does arbitration mean and do players often make it to that point? Arbitration is when a team and player meet with a neutral party and pitch why they believe the salary they want is fair. The arbitrator will then decide the player’s salary based on what each side has argued. The team then has 48 hours to accept the offer that was presented. If they do not, the player then becomes an unrestricted free agent and is free is sign wherever they please.
To answer the second question, the arbitration date rarely happens. Most sides will agree on a contract before their case is heard, sometimes even outside the room where it will be heard. That was the case with Brayden Schenn and the Flyers back in 2016. Looking at Cap Friendly once more, only one player and team made it to their arbitration date out of 26 total players last season. The year prior, every player and team settled before the case was heard. So it’s unusual for the sides to need an arbitrator. What it does is give both sides a deadline to work with.
Salary arbitration hearings will be held from July 20 to August 4. At this time, we don’t know the exact dates for each player.
Cates is coming off an impressive rookie season in which he became one of John Tortorella’s most trusted players. In his first full season in the NHL, Cates posted 13 goals and 38 points, appearing in all 82 games. He was seventh on the team in goals and eighth on the team in points, which is impressive for a rookie.
His successful first season earned him a small amount of recognition during the NHL Awards last month. Cates earned seven votes for the Selke, finishing 15th in voting. He received 20 votes for Rookie of the Year, finishing ninth. He also fell short of being named to the All-Rookie team. So the league has taken notice of what Cates did during his first season.
His teammates have had an up close view to what he has done and have given him glowing reviews as well.
"”I do, I think. Like I said, he plays a mature game. He’s really reliable defensively, and I think he has some undercover really good offensive skills, also,” Sean Couturier said in April on if he seems himself in Cates. “I think if you give him maybe a little more opportunity offensively – power play and stuff – I think he can maybe produce a little more. He’s just one of those guys that you can throw out in any situation, and he’ll find a way to succeed. It’s like I said, he’s one of those guys that that you need to make runs and win.”"
At the end of the season, Cates wasn’t sure whether his next contract would be short term or long term and which would be best for him. He just wanted to be a part of the Flyers moving forward.
"“I’m not sure what would be best for me or for the team, long term or short term. At the end of the day, I’m sure something beneficial for both the team and myself. And we can focus on moving forward here as a group.”"
We will find out during the next few weeks what that next contract will look like. It should be known that Cates is a part of the Flyers future.