Radko Gudas kind of feels like a throw in for the Flyers in the big Braydon Coburn trade that went down at 3 a.m. on NHL trade deadline day. He's not playing for the rest of the season after undergoing knee surgery, but he's signed through the end of next season at a very friendly cap number under $1 million.
What are the Flyers getting with this guy?
Here's how he stacks up against the rest of the defensemen in the NHL, via Own The Puck:
So in a nutshell there, he's a top-4 level guy in terms of offensive production -- he had 22 points last season -- and shot production, but he's been downright replacement level in shot suppression. It averages out to make him a third-pairing defenseman, despite that he's been used at times as a top-4 guy in Tampa. His overall minutes show that he's a fourth or fifth guy.
We asked our friends over at Raw Charge for a few thoughts on Gudas and here's what they had to share:
Lemme preface this by saying Gudas has knee issues; they first appeared during the 2012-13 AHL playoffs and again popped up this winter, leading to surgery that put him out for 4-6 months (re-assessment of his return was due later this month).
That being said, Radko is a solid checking Czech (...who likes ballroom dancing) and isn't afraid to throw-down. Righty shot which is a nice commodity but he's not known for shooting as so much as his defense. Not always sound but reliable.
Raw Charge ranked Gudas ninth on their Top 25 Under 25 list for Lightning players before the start of this season, a rank that dropped from fourth the year prior.
Why the drop? Well, Gudas was paired with Keith Aulie on Tampa Bay's third pair for a bit, and then was pushed up to a top-4 role with Matt Carle, where he struggled. Here's Raw Charge again:
That time with Keith Aulie revealed a once-hidden talent Gudas possessed, that perhaps only a few who had watched him closely in the AHL had noticed -- he's a lot more than just a bruising, hit-first defenseman. He's an underrated puckhandler and passer and the Lightning dominated lower competition when Gudas/Aulie were on the ice -- as the bottom pairing, they got a light load of 5v5 minutes and fairly easy assignments, which is typical for a third pair.
Gudas has established himself as a very effective NHLer, but his one-year audition in the top-4 simply did not go as well. It might have been too much too fast, it might be chemistry with Carle, or something else entirely, but Carle is almost certainly staying in the top-4 which means the best option moving forward is to not play Gudas there any more.
To summarize, he's good as a bottom-pair guy but hasn't really performed as a top guy. He'll fit in nicely on the Flyers right now then, since all they have is third-pairing defensemen.
The other thing to know about Gudas is his mean streak. He takes a lot of penalties (224 PIM in 126 NHL games to date) and some people online this morning have compared him to a a defensive Zac Rinaldo. That's probably unfair to Gudas since he does have a decent bit of skill, but the penalties aren't really great to see. Nor are things like this:
Jeez, man. Keep your damn elbow tucked. And don't do that in orange and black.
Overall, Gudas has some potential and he might be a nice third-pairing guy. Hard to know with so many guys of that caliber currently on the team though. We'll see how it shakes out next season, and worst case, it doesn't go well and the Flyers can easily bury him in Lehigh Valley.