3 Candidates to Be Flyers’ Next Captain

When 10-season-long captain Claude Giroux was traded from the Philadelphia Flyers on March 19, 2022, it left the team without an explicit leader entering a season for the first time this century. After finishing last season without one, the Flyers are once again in a position without a captain on their roster.

Head coach John Tortorella has already stated that the team probably won’t be seeing one named for this season, either. With that situation in mind, who are some realistic candidates for the team’s 20th captain?

Noah Cates

In just his rookie season, Noah Cates became a player that his coach absolutely adored, and it is not hard to see why. With a phenomenal defensive presence already shown with his young age, it is plausible that he becomes the chosen leader of the team. He might just have the best chance out of anyone.

Noah Cates Philadelphia Flyers
Cates of the Flyers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Last season, Cates was arguably one of the best defensive players in the game. While he still has some things to improve on, getting a few Selke Trophy votes as a rookie is a very rare feat. After never having played center until entering his 2022-23 campaign, he still struggled in some aspects of the position, such as winning just 39.5 percent of faceoffs. Cates’ offensive game was not necessarily up to par either, given he had just 38 points in an 82-game slate.

Related: Flyers’ Noah Cates Could Be a Future Core Piece

Cates could be a member of the Flyers throughout the entirety of the team’s rebuild. It isn’t easy to develop players like him and make him a staple to your lineup. Ordinarily, players like him are generally not homegrown and someone that contenders trade for. If he can round out his game, he could likely stay with the Flyers for a long time and be one of the exceptions. If that is the case, he would be a great candidate to be a captain for Philadelphia. He worked to get his spot in the NHL and was relentless in his efforts to keep it. This could serve as some valuable advice for youngsters such as Cutter Gauthier and Matvei Michkov. The 24-year-old is probably the most ideal captain for the team as of now.

Scott Laughton

At one point, Scott Laughton seemed like a slam dunk to be the next captain of the Flyers. After being in some enticing trade talks over the summer, his future with the team is certainly in doubt. Although he is still under contract for the next three seasons, he might not be exempt from a trade in the near future. Nevertheless, he could still see himself be a short-term captain for the Orange and Black.

Scott Laughton Philadelphia Flyers
Laughton of the Flyers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Laughton is one of the veteran members of the Flyers. Actually, he is the second-longest tenured player on the team next to Sean Couturier, having played his first game in the 2012-13 season with the club. Despite only being 29 years of age, he is entering his 11th season in Philadelphia. With his consistent play over the years, he has at the very least earned some consideration for the job. Being a captain is more about leadership than anything, and the forward has shown that he has what it takes to do that on the ice with his alternate captain job, and off it as well, with some community work.

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The only real question for him is about if he can stay with the team. No player is safe from being traded during a rebuild, and that is especially true for veterans who teams are interested in. That intrigue from other clubs likely won’t die down anytime soon, so his time in Philadelphia might be limited. Since he still has a few years left on his deal, there is no rush to make a move happen. General manager (GM) Danny Briere still has time to figure out his situation.

Cam Atkinson

Cam Atkinson would be a bit of a surprising choice to be the Flyers’ captain, but that doesn’t mean it would be a bad one. With two years left on his contract and him being 34 years old, he might not want to spend his last few years in the league with a rebuilding club. However, if the Flyers want to transition their captain from an older player who won’t be with the team for a while to a much younger one who can be the guy for years to come, he would actually be a smart decision.

Cam Atkinson Philadelphia Flyers Hat Trick
Atkinson of the Flyers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

After missing the entirety of his 2022-23 season with a herniated disk, it seems likely that he will be back for this upcoming season. He was a piece that the team dearly missed, scoring 50 points in 73 games in 2021-22 and playing sometime on both the power play and penalty kill for the Flyers.

Not only was Atkinson a shifty and talented player on the ice, but he was also a leader as well, stating that the team needed to be better and that nearly everyone had their own issues in helping them do that. If there was anyone on the team that would be most fit to be the captain in the present day, it would probably be him. It is more likely that his stay is short rather than extended, but he still would be a phenomenal captain for Philadelphia.

It is unclear whether or not the Flyers will name an official captain beyond just this season. They could be one of the teams in the league that remains without one for a while. Whether or not the title is handed out should not matter to the Flyers’ success, but it helps give the team an identity. As of now, no player truly exemplifies that.

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