In the NHL, signing players to professional tryouts has long been a way of adding healthy, experienced bodies to the training camp roster. With camp right around the corner, the Philadelphia Flyers might still be looking for ways to improve the team, and this year, that could exclusively come in the form of veteran intangibles.
At the same time, the older guys are more likely to make the Flyers whereas the prospects can still be sent down to the minors. For those who have to stick it out in the AHL with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, winning and having a successful season is important to a happy and healthy development track.
#5. Jackson Cates, C, Flyers, 2021-2023
For the Flyers, it is about taking care of their own. Jackson Cates, older brother of breakout star Noah, has been in the organization since 2021, but has not seen much ice time at the NHL level. Still, his 20 NHL games over the last three seasons should still be important to a Flyers organization trying to build character and continuity.
Although Cates seems to be limited to a bottom-six role at the professional levels, he has shown he can be a productive and useful player. In 65 games with the Phantoms last season, the 25-year-old scored 11 goals and 12 assists.
Offensively, those numbers will not break the bank, but Cates’ familiarity with the team, the players, and the system will make him a likely PTO candidate. The young center remains an unrestricted free agent, and is probably more valuable to the Flyers than anyone else at this point in his career.