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Trade target: Radko Gudas could be a missing piece for a team up north

Mr. Dubas, I give you the best of both worlds.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Today we’ll be continuing a mini series here at Broad Street Hockey on potential players on the move at this year’s trade deadline. Brad already went over forward Michael Raffl and what the market could be for him, and now today we’ll be analyzing Radko Gudas. The rugged defenseman has been one of the better play-drivers on the back end since he began his Flyers career in 2015-16.

Gudas was acquired in the Braydon Coburn trade in the middle of the Flyers failure of a season in 2014-15. Previously, Gudas had been with the Tampa Bay Lightning and scored 32 points in 126 games, with his highest season point total being 22. Gudas had five points in 33 games for Tampa in 2014-15 before he was injured, leaving Tampa down a blueliner. In come the Philadelphia Flyers, who were selling big time at the deadline, and Coburn was one of the prime players expected to go. The Flyers dealt for Gudas knowing he’d be ready for the next season, and seeing potential in the right handed defenseman.

In his first season, Gudas scored just 14 points in 76 games, but posted a 53.84 Corsi for percent, proving to be essentially what the Flyers thought they were getting. He played a physical brand of hockey, but also drove play and was generally generating positive play. He would continue to be a play-driving force for the Flyers and still produces in that department this season. From 2015-16, to 2017-18, among skaters with at least 700 minutes of ice time Radko Gudas is fourth on the team in Corsi-for percent. If you don’t count Travis Sanheim, who only played 49 games in this span, Gudas is the top defenseman in regards to driving play.

He’s done this all while having only averaged 43.30 percent of his zone starts in the offensive zone. The next closest defenseman to Gudas is Shayne Gostisbehere at a 51.47 Corsi-for percent, essentially two percent behind Gudas who came in at 53.40. He’s done this while having an offensive zone start percent of 61.34, a sharp increase from Gudas. Now obviously, this is not to suggest Radko Gudas has been better than Shayne Gostisbehere. However, Gudas has performed better than some may think, and he’s been exactly what this team has needed on the blue line in many regards.

Flyers Defensemen 15-18

Travis Sanheim 701 603 53.76 295 258 53.35 113 107 51.36 0.979 63.93
Radko Gudas 3475 3032 53.4 1380 1333 50.87 570 517 52.44 0.985 43.3
Shayne Gostisbehere 3247 3062 51.47 1362 1346 50.3 560 556 50.18 1.003 62.51
Michael Del Zotto 1767 1670 51.41 724 717 50.24 301 277 52.08 0.984 47.79
Brandon Manning 2826 2677 51.35 1138 1202 48.63 454 524 46.42 0.992 48.65
Mark Streit 1682 1674 50.12 689 761 47.52 306 307 49.92 0.996 49.26
Ivan Provorov 2571 2644 49.3 1053 1154 47.71 421 451 48.28 0.999 46.98
Andrew MacDonald 2450 2718 47.41 1063 1174 47.52 422 442 48.84 1.004 47.29
Nick Schultz 1316 1480 47.07 544 604 47.39 212 235 47.43 1.005 42.89
Robert Hagg 966 1140 45.87 417 495 45.72 167 188 47.04 1.018 42.12

What I’m trying to convey here is, Radko Gudas is a pretty solid player, folks! Given this, and his favorable contract at just a $3.35 million AAV over this year and next, a team inquiring about Gudas is not only getting a solid defenseman, but a relatively cheap one as well. There’s one team in particular that I believe the Flyers’ defenseman would be a perfect fit for in a trade. A team that desperately needs some help on the back end.

Toronto Maple Leafs

If you’ve even paid a little bit attention to the Toronto Maple Leafs this season, you know they could use some help on the back end. Outside of Morgan Rielly, they have a defense core of Jake Gardiner, Travis Dermott, Nikita Zaitsev, Ron Hainsey, and Igor Ozhiganov. Does Radko Gudas step in and become a top defenseman? No, of course not. However, he does relieve some of the pressure faced by young players like Dermott, Zaitsev, and even Ozhiganov who is in his first NHL season, and allow Mike Babcock to use Ron Hainsey in a more limited role. Currently, Hainsey is averaging almost 20 minutes per game. No disrespect, but there is no reason why Ron Hainsey should be playing that many minutes a game for an NHL team.

Gudas would presumably take Hainsey’s spot and ice time, and be the right handed puck moving defenseman that the Leafs could desperately use. Now, this trade really only happens if Kyle Dubas is unwilling to go for the big fish, specifically from the St. Louis Blues in Alex Pietrangelo and Colton Parayko. If Dubas is only willing to go for the mid-level defenseman who he believes can step in and fill a role for Toronto as they attempt to take the next step, Gudas should be their target.

Now to the fun part; what could Radko Gudas get the Philadelphia Flyers in return? Honestly I hate doing these kind of projections, because none of us really know and it all depends upon how much the other GM is willing to give up. If the Leafs go on a brief losing streak prior to the deadline, and their defense is the clear contributor to the losses, Dubas possibly gives up a bit more than he’d originally want to.

If I’m Chuck Fletcher, there are a few players in particular that I’d be calling for. First off would be forward Andreas Johnsson. He’s a speedy and talented forward who gives the Flyers some much needed zip in the forward core. This season, Johnsson has 22 points in 43 games including a hat trick vs. Philadelphia earlier in the season. The Leafs have plenty of young forward depth, and may be willing to part with some for help on the blue line.

Jeremy Bracco could be another possibility, a point per game player in the AHL. Forward Trevor Moore would also be a possibility, who had 27 points in 32 games with the Toronto Marlies before receiving a call-up recently. Now, the Flyers would most likely want some defense in return, and this could come with players such as Justin Holl who had 28 points in 60 games last year with the Marlies, but has been a healthy scratch at the NHL level for all but two games this season.

A mid-round pick would most likely be in the discussion as well, but if the Maple Leafs come calling for Gudas, these are some of the players I believe would be in the running to come back in the trade.

With all of this said, I think one could make a fair argument for keeping Radko Gudas at this year’s deadline. He’s on a cheap contract, and assuming Phil Myers makes the team out of camp as he’s expected to next season, this would all but signal the end of Andrew MacDonald as a mainstay in the Flyers’ lineup. The defense core at that point would be Ivan Provorov, Shayne Gostisbehere, Travis Sanheim, Radko Gudas, Phil Myers, Robert Hagg, and Samuel Morin. MacDonald would at that point — if he isn’t traded beforehand — become the seventh defenseman in the worst case scenario but most likely an AHL staple for the final year of his contract.

Morin is going to be a pivotal portion of this entire ordeal. He’s expected back in mid-February, and the NHL trade deadline is February 28. If Morin actually starts playing in mid-February or earlier for that matter and shows promise immediately, Gudas becomes all the more expendable. If he doesn’t, Chuck Fletcher may be more tempted to hang onto Gudas for the rest of this season then attempt to make a move at the draft, or no move at all.

This is an interesting predicament the Flyers and Fletcher are in with Radko Gudas, a player who has clearly given a lot of effort for this team and been at times quite a fun player to watch. Trading him would certainly be bittersweet, but if they get the right offer, and a team maybe overpays for a run at the Stanley Cup, I believe it’s the right move to make.

All stats courtesy of Natural Stat Trick and hockey-reference