We soldier on in our 25 Under 25 update as we move into the teens today, taking a look at, eerily enough, three college hockey forwards who all scored at very similar rates this season. For a full recap of the series so far, please see the bottom of this post.
19. Noah Cates
Primary Team/League: Minnesota-Duluth, NCAA
2019-20 Stats: 14 G, 19 A in 34 GP
Rank in Summer 25 Under 25: Unranked
Drew (ranked him #25): Cates improved on his first season at Minnesota-Duluth to the tune of nearly being a point per game player, but personally I’m not as high on Cates as others may be, only because I just don’t know where he would fit. I can see him being used in a package to pry a better player off of some other club’s roster.
Mike (did not rank): Cates has now turned in back-to-back productive seasons at Minnesota-Duluth, including his nearly point-per game this past season. Translating college production is usually tricky and Cates doesn’t have the pure power game that Wade Allison has as a stand out skill despite his 6-foot-2 frame. He just missed my rankings, though, which means he could easily slide in depending on what happens with others in the organization in the coming months.
Kurt (did not rank): One of the last cuts I had here, so clearly I pulled the average down a bit on this one. I have him a touch below the other two guys here because they were both just a little bit ahead of where he was at the same points in their careers, but Cates’ upward trajectory over the past three years does make him tough to ignore here and he was one of the better players on a very good UMD team this past year. I imagine he’s back there next year, and if he continues on the trajectory he’s on there won’t really be a case to ignore him any more.
Maddie (ranked him #23): I really like Noah Cates, and I know I said that drafting players straight out of high school scares me a little bit (it can be hard to parse through everything and say with certainty if a player who puts up big numbers is actually very good or just good enough to beat up on average high schoolers until we see him playing at the next level), but players like Cates are why I like to see teams taking a shot on them in the later rounds of the draft if they like their skill sets. The thing that really stands out about Cates is his hockey IQ, and I think that’s what makes him most exciting. He’s getting an increased role with UMD (and I imagine he’ll be back there for another year), and it’s nice to see the offense continuing to come along for him. It’s fair to wonder where he will fit in in the organization, but if he continues on this trajectory, it isn’t hard to imagine he makes a big jump up on the organizational depth chart.
Kelly (ranked him #18): It’s possible that Steph Driver’s enthusiasm for this kid has rubbed off on me, but I dunno. I like him. He looked really good in training camp this year and if he continues to improve @college he’ll probably turn into a nice reliable bottom-sixer.
Steph (ranked him #18): I am the aforementioned Steph Driver with the enthusiasm for Noah Cates. I have just loved this kid since I saw him in his first rookie camp and I’m thrilled to see him succeed in college. He has the size of an NHLer at 6’2 190 lbs. and has really strong hockey IQ. Cates is a late round gem courtesy of Ron Hextall and I think he has a legit shot at being a second or third line player in the NHL.
18. Tanner Laczynski
Primary Team/League: Ohio State, NCAA
2019-20 Stats: 11 G, 23 A in 36 GP
Rank in Summer 25 Under 25: T-17
Drew (did not rank): Truthfully, with hindsight, I would’ve ranked Laczynski 24 or 25. I think he’s skilled enough to merit a look for sure, though, if we assume he’ll need a year or two to develop in the AHL, he’ll be 24 or 25 by the time he first hits the NHL. Forgive me, but I’d rather take my chances on a guy like Isaac Ratcliffe given the development path. Any contributor is of course welcome, but I’m higher on guys who I can get to see quicker, as testament to their skill.
Mike (ranked him #17): With Laczynski playing regularly against my Nittany Lions, I’ve seen plenty of this one over the years (finally a senior, like the JT Barrett of Ohio State hockey). In that time I’ve seen a steady player continue to hone his craft and work on developing an all-around game for the Buckeyes. He lacks any high-end trait, but does everything well and has versatility to play all over the lineup card. He’s got tools to build on at the professional level and some time with the Phantoms should help.
Kurt (ranked him #23): Moneybags himself! I liked Laczynski back in his early days at OSU, and while I don’t know if this is a real high-ceiling guy, he’s been a well-rounded player who can play in a lot of different ways and it’s easy to see him contributing to this team going forward. That said, like Drew mentioned, he’s on the older side for prospects. He turns 23 in June; he was an overager when the Flyers drafted him, and then he spent four years at OSU, so he’s hitting the pros later than most prospects are and his current developmental curve is probably a bit flatter than that of some of the younger guys we have talked (and will talk) about. If he doesn’t make his presence felt within the organization next year, it’s not hard to see him falling off the radar. Big year coming up for him.
Maddie (ranked him #24): Honestly, one of the big reasons Laczynski fell a bit in my rankings is because I just didn’t have a great sense of if he was going to sign with the Flyers at the end of his season, like I did (and still do) with Wade Allison. But he’s obviously answered those questions of where he’s at and we’ll be seeing him in the organization next season, so that part’s settled at least. I like Laczynski as a prospect, but he’s just one that’s never really wowed me. And maybe that’s not a bad thing, maybe that’s just part of his game, like Mike said, he does a lot of things right but lacks one area where he really excels and jumps off the page. And I think he certainly has the potential to work his way into a role in the NHL, but my only worry is that, with a prospect pool as deep as the Flyers’ is, that he might be jumped in the pecking order by another forward who does bring some flash or particular excellence in one area or another.
Kelly (ranked him #25): Like Maddie, the thing that influenced me most with this ranking was the uncertainty. He wasn’t signed at the time and there was that weird nonsense about skipping camp for school stuff, plus he’s old. I just think that, like Kurt said, it’s hard to see how his path leads to the Flyers if he isn’t a monster in this upcoming season.
Steph (ranked #17): I really wasn’t sure if he was going to sign, but I am really glad that he did. Apparently I’m higher on him than anyone else here so let’s talk about how good he is. Tanner (because who can spell his last name without looking, seriously) has been at Ohio State for four years and has been hovering around a point-per-game player each year. He is 6’2, 205 lbs and is NHL ready right now. I believe he is more skilled than Wade Allison and has been flying under the radar because he wasn’t at last year’s training camp. Even as a sixth round pick, he should be in the conversation with the prospects you want to see most at the NHL level like Frost and Farabee were this season.
17. Wade Allison
Primary Team/League: Western Michigan, NCAA
2019-20 Stats: 10 G, 13 A in 26 GP
Rank in Summer 25 Under 25: 13
Drew (ranked him #21): I think Allison is a better player from a skill set perspective than Tanner Laczynski, which is probably why I have Allison ranked over Laczynski. I can see him in an NHL role quicker than other collegiate forward prospects, and he could certainly be useful in the bottom six. However, like Laczynski, he’ll likely need time in the AHL before that. I think Allison is further along though in that regard and could likely hit the NHL quicker, but that’s just me forecasting and isn’t based in any evidence other than a hunch.
Mike (ranked him #15): It’s been a long road for Allison on these rankings and boy has he been through the gamut in his career at Western Michigan with a slew of injuries holding him back. When healthy —and that’s a big if— Allison has a big frame and scoring touch to add to the Flyers’ system. Given the status of guys like Oskar Lindblom and Nolan Patrick, the Flyers would love to get Allison signed and into their training program: he’s worth the wait.
Kurt (ranked him #22): Boy, it’s been a roller coaster couple of years for Wade Allison. He was ranked 13th last summer! Even after a year post-ACL tear when he clearly wasn’t up to speed! Before that injury he was looking like a real keeper, then that happened, and it wasn’t really until a bit into this past season that he started to look like that guy again. There’s been some consternation about whether or not he’ll sign with the team, but it seems like he just wanted to get healthy before signing a pro contract, so hopefully we hear about him signing a deal in the next few weeks. He can be a power-forward type of winger if it all works out and he’s able to translate his skills to the professional level, and that’s an exciting thought.
Maddie (ranked him #12): I think I’ve tended to be more on the hesitant side when it’s come to ranking Allison highly because his injury history has really scared me. Coming back from his injury/injuries and getting back to that old form that we were all so excited about was going to be a big task, and far from a certainty. That said, I’ve been able to watch a handful of Western Michigan games this season, and despite a bit of weird start, I can pretty confidently say that through the end of the season, Allison was really looking like his old self again, and I think that’s huge. I really like his skill set overall, and assuming he does sign and has a good camp, I really wouldn’t be surprised to see him make the team outright (and if not, be like Joel Farabee and only spend a brief stint in the AHL), he seems pretty NHL ready, as it stands. I’m excited about his trajectory and think he can be a really fun addition to the Flyers’ roster, if everything shakes out.
Kelly (ranked him #21): His injury history is terrifying and he still hasn’t signed, that said, I’m higher on him than his pal Tanner up there and, as such, ranked him higher. From what I’ve seen of Allison he has the potential to be pretty dang good. Also, Steph and I yelled at him to sign a contract at camp last summer so we good. He heard us. He’ll sign.
Steph (ranked him #21): I have to be honest, I just don’t know about Wade Allison. I was crazy high on him two seasons ago, and then injury after injury with a side of shortened seasons and I just don’t know. Watching him in rookie camp, he is clearly one of the best players on the ice. Can he play an 82 game season? Can he stay healthy? I just don’t know the answers to these questions right now.
How We Voted: 19 to 17
|19||David Kase||Mikhail Vorobyev||Connor Bunnaman||Tanner Laczynski||David Kase||Connor Bunnaman||German Rubtsov||David Kase||Mark Friedman||Ronnie Attard||Wade Allison||Noah Cates|
|18||Tanner Laczynski||Samuel Ersson||Mark Friedman||Wade Allison||Noah Cates||Carsen Twarynski||Mark Friedman||Egor Zamula||Jay O'Brien||Wyatt Kalynuk||Bobby Brink||German Rubtsov|
|17||German Rubtsov||Mark Friedman||David Kase||Noah Cates||Kirill Ustimenko||Wyatte Wylie||Noah Cates||Mark Friedman||Tanner Laczynski||Noah Cates||Noah Cates||Isaac Ratcliffe|