Flyers

A high school hit, Flyers draft pick Noah Cates now looks ahead

A high school hit, Flyers draft pick Noah Cates now looks ahead

VOORHEES, N.J. — Noah Cates was just a teenager playing high school hockey in Minnesota.
 
Then he spun himself into a national sensation.
 
Back in February 2016, Cates scored a goal you see in movies with a fairytale finish. To push Stillwater Area High School into the Class 2A state tournament, Cates shook the only defender in sight with a stunning spin move before reaching around the goalie and finding the net for the punctuation.

The result was a 1-0 overtime win and pure chaos in the stands. What ensued over the following days, Cates never could have imagined.
 
"Oh geez," he said with a smile last week at Flyers development camp. "Attention right away, but it was just a crazy experience all around. That, and the next couple days with the tourney and stuff — it was a great time in my life playing high school hockey with all my friends."
 
Cates, a junior at the time, was featured on ESPN's SportsCenter Top 10 plays, while the goal made waves on the internet across national media outlets.
 
All while he was preparing for states.
 
"It was just a whirlwind those couple days, but it was unbelievable," he said. "Unforgettable."
 
Cates is now moving on from Stillwater, looking to write a new chapter of his young but already exciting hockey career. His junior season ended in the semifinals of the state tournament. As a senior, Cates racked up 65 points (20 goals, 45 assists) in 25 regular-season games.
 
A little over a month after high school graduation, Cates was skating on the Flyers' practice ice and seeing the NHL life. The 18-year-old left winger was selected by the Flyers in the fifth round of the June entry draft and took part in the team's six-day July development camp.
 
"Just see what elite players are like from my age, year older, two years older," Cates said of the Flyers' annual youth gathering. "See what I need to work on, see what the next steps should look like for me and my development.
 
"It was definitely cool to see but you try to calm down. They drafted me, so you've got to feel you belong here."
 
Cates will play for the Omaha Lancers of the USHL in 2017-18 before starting his college career at the University of Minnesota Duluth in 2018-19. He still has long ways to go in accomplishing the NHL dream, but his potential was obvious at development camp. Cates stands at 6-foot-1, 165 pounds, and brings a slick shot as well as strong puck skills, as evident by his famous goal.
 
"I like skill, I like trying new stuff," he said. "Just kind of try new stuff, try new things out there."
 
Getting a feel for the Flyers was a nice start to his year of preparation for the college ranks in the USHL.
 
"Strength and speed, just getting bigger, faster, stronger," Cates said of what he hopes to improve. "Those players, you see them out here, they're so big, strong and skilled. They'll be tough to keep up with them, but if you're in the weight room and you're working out hard, it'll make it easier."
 
It's all part of moving on from high school. He'll never forget the spin and goal to send Stillwater into states — and how could he? It's hard to top such a memory.
 
An NHL goal might do it.

Former Flyers GM Ron Hextall finds new job with Los Angeles Kings

Former Flyers GM Ron Hextall finds new job with Los Angeles Kings

Former Flyers general manager Ron Hextall has found a new job in the NHL. 

Hextall has been hired as a part-time advisor to hockey operations for the Los Angeles Kings, the team announced Wednesday.

Fired by the Flyers in November after a poor start to the 2018-19 season, Hextall, a former goalie who played 489 games with the Flyers, served as general manager for four-plus seasons.

At the time, then-president Paul Holmgren said, "it has become clear that we no longer share the same philosophical approach concerning the direction of the team."

The Flyers did not win a playoff series under Hextall, going 165-128-58 and losing twice in the first round.

The team relieved head coach Dave Hakstol of his duties in December. Chuck Fletcher took over Hextall's position, and he hired Alain Vigneault in April as head coach.

Hextall said in November he was "proud" of the groundwork he built as general manager, and that he believes the team is "poised to do something great." 

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Joel Farabee climbing, Samuel Morin's complex case, more in Flyers stock watch

Joel Farabee climbing, Samuel Morin's complex case, more in Flyers stock watch

The Flyers are two games into their seven-game exhibition slate.

The competition for jobs will only heat up with three games in the next five days.

"We've got some decisions to make," Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said last weekend. "That's what you want in camp. You need surprises, we need some of these young kids to step up and force us into some decisions. That's how your team gets better and we're going to give them an opportunity to do that."

Who's trending up? Who's trending down? Let's take a look at the stock of those players who could impact the staff's decisions:

Stock up

Joel Farabee

From rookie camp to now, the heralded prospect has done everything to fuel his roster case. He's exhibited skill, smarts and, most importantly, his effort. Farabee has put the whole package on display and the 19-year-old winger has been impossible to not notice.

In the preseason opener Monday night at the Wells Fargo Center, Farabee showed impressive burst to create some quality scoring chances during a game that featured a lot of rust from both sides.

"Farabee, I think everyone can see the skill set," Vigneault said afterward. "I didn't think he was as good tonight as what I've seen, but some of that had to do with the opposition. I like that kid. I like his skill level. I like that he can play in tight. I think we've got a good young player there."

Farabee's stock is rising, too, because it appears he'll get a game with the big guns Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier, two players he excelled with during the opening days of camp.

German Rubtsov

Rubtsov's steady and cerebral game has impressed the coaching staff and front office. The 21-year-old center's defensive strengths were well-documented entering camp, but he's beginning to grow into his offensive upside.

The 2016 first-round pick scored two goals in the rookie game and was recognizable in both of the preseason games.

If he's not winning a bottom-six job now, he's showing he can be relied upon as one of the first call-up options throughout the season.

Stock down

Samuel Morin

Morin's camp is an interesting case study. It's tough to make out how he's done. He hasn't necessarily hurt himself, but he's a 2013 draft pick and the Flyers' current regime really likes mobile defensemen that skillfully push the puck up ice and jump into the play.

Morin is a 6-foot-6, stay-at-home kind of blueliner. My gut just tells me the Flyers are much higher on guys like Philippe Myers, Egor Zamula and maybe even Mark Friedman.

We'll have to see if the Flyers carry eight defensemen. Right now, Morin is probably their eighth and he would have to clear waivers to go to AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.

Isaac Ratcliffe

Ratcliffe is an exciting prospect with a 6-foot-6 frame that can belie his superb skill.

His strengths were accentuated in junior hockey but they'll take some time to translate at the pro level. He's had difficulty standing out because there's much less time and space with the puck in the NHL.

The 20-year-old goal-scoring winger works hard and will learn how to better utilize his size to produce offensively at AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley in 2019-20.

"My main focus is trying to get rid of those junior habits," Ratcliffe said Monday. "Some of those pull and drag moves at the blue line while coming into the zone — a big part of the game, trying to push the pace coming up, you're playing against the best defenders in the world here. Even in some of the practices here, I can still feel it trying to creep back into my game. I'm trying to focus on using my size a little bit more and try to dominate using my reach and strength getting around defensemen rather than try to maneuver the puck around them."

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