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March 31, 2022

Flyers college prospects: Noah Cates, Ronnie Attard sign, who's next?

Will Denver's Bobby Brink be the next college prospect to get a contract?

It's stating the obvious, but the Flyers' current season is a lost cause. 

Their latest five-game road trip saw the team go 1-4-0, with the 4-1 loss at Minnesota to cap it off on Tuesday officially eliminating them from playoff contention. 

Crippling injuries, key players that took complete steps backward, and months' worth of mostly boring, uninspired hockey have led them here: A 21-35-11 record, a spot near the bottom of the Eastern Conference, and for fans, little optimism for the future. 

With 15 games left, general manager Chuck Fletcher is taking stock of what the Flyers have before trying to roll out an 'aggressive retool' in the summer that the front office hopes will have the team back in playoff contention next season (the chances of that actually working are a conversation for another day).

This includes seeing what the Flyers have in the college ranks.

Forward Noah Cates, from Minnesota-Duluth, was signed on Sunday and made his NHL debut in the loss to the Wild on Tuesday night. Defenseman Ronnie Attard, from Western Michigan, was also signed to a pro contract on Tuesday and could play this weekend. 

The Flyers have 47 of 50 contract slots filled, according to CapFriendly and several other prospects in college. Here is where they're all at right now:

Noah Cates, Minnesota-Duluth, LW

Shoots: Left | Age: 23 | Size: 6'2", 190 lbs (Signed to two-year entry-level contract)

After signing a two-year, entry-level deal that kicked in for the remainder of this season, Cates made his pro debut Tuesday night about a half-hour drive away from his hometown in Stillwater, Minnesota. He played 14:52 on the left wing of a line with Morgan Frost (center) and Owen Tippett (right wing). 

It was a forgettable night for the Flyers (there's been a lot of them), but Cates put in a respectable outing. He put three shots on goal, made three hits, and was credited on three takeaways.

Cates was originally a fifth-round draft pick by the Flyers in 2017, and joined the team after four years at Minnesota-Duluth and a run with Team USA at the Beijing Winter Olympics last month.

He was the Bulldogs' captain for the past two seasons and had 99 points (39 goals, 60 assists) in 139 games for his college career, which included a national title in 2019 and another Frozen Four appearance in 2021, both with his brother Jackson, who is also in the Flyers' farm system.

By no means is Cates expected to light the world on fire, but he can probably be a dependable bottom-six forward. 

Ronnie Attard, Western Michigan, D

Shoots: Right | Age: 23 | Size: 6'4", 209 lbs. (Signed to two-year entry-level contract)

The third-round pick from 2019, Attard's test run on the Flyers' blue line could begin this weekend with a back-to-back at home against Toronto on Saturday, then the Rangers in New York on Sunday. 

Attard had 36 points (13 goals, 23 assists) and a plus-20 rating in 39 games as a junior for Western Michigan this season, and has 72 total points in a 94-game college career that saw his production increase each season. 

The clip below shows Attard can read the ice and anticipate play pretty well, but the NHL will no doubt be a much faster game to process. 

Bobby Brink, Denver, RW

Shoots: Right | Age: 20 | Size: 5'9", 163 lbs. (Unsigned)

The Flyers' second-round pick from 2019, Brink is putting up points in his junior season with the University of Denver. In 39 games, he has 14 goals and 42 assists for 56 points. He had an assist in Saturday's 2-1 NCAA Quarterfinal win over Cates' Minnesota-Duluth, creating a turnover in the offensive zone then making the pass that set up the tying goal. 

Brink has also impressed on the international stage, scoring twice and racking up six points to help Team USA win gold at the 2021 World Junior Championship.

He doesn't seem to have much of a problem creating offense or getting to the net, and the Flyers have a definite need for a spark like that.

Denver will play Michigan in the Frozen Four next Thursday, and if they advance, the National Championship is that Saturday night.

The Flyers' season ends April 29 against Ottawa, so if an offer is made and he elects to go pro after the tournament, he can get some NHL games in. 

Bryce Brodzinski, Minnesota, RW

Shoots: Right | Age: 21 | Size: 6'0", 216 lbs. (Unsigned)

A seventh-rounder, also from the 2019 draft, Brodzinski will also be playing in the Frozen Four next week, with his Minnesota Golden Gophers facing off against Minnesota State. 

He has played 38 games in his junior season, scoring 12 goals and 25 points, including this slick play back in October:

And this snipe:

Jack St. Ivany, Boston College, D

Shoots: Right | Age: 22 | Size: 6'3", 201 lbs. (Unsigned)

The 2018 fourth-rounder got fully settled in after a transfer from Yale and a full season with the Eagles, putting up 24 points (four goals, 20 assists) and going plus-8 in 35 games. 

But with his senior season wrapped up, the Flyers have until mid-August to get St. Ivany signed, otherwise he'll go to free agency. 

Jay O'Brien, Boston University, C

Shoots: Right | Age: 22 | Size: 6'0", 185 lbs. (Unsigned)

Taken 19th overall in the 2018 draft, five picks after Joel Farabee, O'Brien's development path has been anything but easy. A forgettable freshman year at Providence, a switch to Penticton in the junior-level BCHL to get back on track, and then a transfer to Boston University. He's been through the wringer. 

O'Brien had 16 points (eight goals and eight assists) in 16 games for the Terriers as a sophomore last season, then had 22 points (10 goals, 12 assists) in 24 games as a junior this year. He wasn't healthy though. He'll have surgery in the offseason, then come back for his senior year

Ty Murchison, Arizona State

Shoots: Left | Age: 19 | Size: 6'2", 192 lbs. (Unsigned)

A fifth-round pick last summer, Murchison had four goals, three assists, and finished plus-5 in his 35-game freshman campaign at Arizona State.

A product of the US National Team Development Program and a California native, much like current Flyers defenseman Cam York, Murchison was touted for his skating and physicality. But there is a long way to go before seeing how he fits professionally. 

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