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Flyers Training Camp

Flyers Notes: Noah Cates Ready to Play Center; Jackson Cates Demoted



Noah Cates, Philadelphia Flyers

Noah Cates, a cerebral Philadelphia Flyers rookie, hasn’t played center regularly since he was a junior at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Now Cates, a converted left winger, is about to start the NHL season at that important position.

After practice Sunday at the Flyers Training Center, new coach John Tortorella said that, with Sean Couturier still recovering from a back injury, he needs Cates in the middle in Thursday’s opener against visiting New Jersey.

“I’m going to have him at center because of our need at center,” Tortorella said.

Tortorella said Cates has been the Philadelphia Flyers’ best player in camp. He believes his versatility makes him even more valuable.

“The thing with him, it’s not just playing a couple potions,” Tortorella said. “He’s a smart player, too.”

Getting accustomed to a new position is “definitely a challenge, but I’m definitely looking forward to it,” said Cates, 23, who was more effective as a winger in college.

He has learned about the center position from his older brother, Jackson, a center who was demoted to the Phantoms on Monday. Teams must submit their final rosters by 5 p.m. on Monday.

“I watch him and his habits and he tells me some little things,” Noah Cates said. “But it’s definitely good that I had that one year in college there.”

Noah Cates (6-foot-1, 192 pounds) said the added defensive responsibility is the biggest difference at center.

He acknowledged he will be going against “some big, strong, heavy guys, and in order to protect pucks, you have to be really strong. You just have to be really aware when you’re at center, and playing with smart guys really helps — talking with them about different things we’re seeing as far as (opposing) lines.”

At Sunday’s practice, Joel Farabee and Owen Tippett were his wingers.

Tippett played briefly with Cates in the preseason. They were wingers on the same line late last season.

“You build a chemistry with a guy, whatever the position is, as long as you’re on the ice together and see what their tendencies are,” Tippett said. “I think we have some chemistry built from last year. He’s a smart player; he knows where to be all over the ice.”

In a 16-game stint with the Flyers last season, Cates had nine points, including five goals, and a plus-4 rating.

“I feel comfortable,” he said. “I think the end of last year really helped out with (meeting) the guys and the league and different things like that.”

Sandstrom returns

Goalie Felix Sandstrom, 25, returned to practice Sunday after being sidelined by a lower-body injury that caused him to miss the last two preseason games.

If the medical staff says he is ready for game action, Sandstrom is expected to be Carter Hart’s backup Thursday. Samuel Ersson is also a candidate. Sandstrom, however, would have to clear waivers to go to the Phantoms. Ersson is exempt from waivers.

During rehab skates, Sandstrom had been “working with the goalies and the other guys to stay ready mentally, and taking some shots and all that,” he said.

The intensity increased Sunday as he took part in a full practice


Tortorella had high praise for Jackson Cates’ training camp and said he expected him back with the Flyers at some point this season. … RW Cam Atkinson again was unable to practice Monday. … Nick Seeler was with Justin Braun on the third pairing Monday.

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