[AUTHOR’S NOTE: This was written for The Broad Street Bully, a blog and podcast my friend Drew and I started based off of our mutual interest in the Philadelphia Flyers. See it on http://broadstreetbully.net.]
Whether it was through deadline deal trades or offseason signings, the Flyers have picked up some new faces. The following pieces are a quick run down of the major new signings that Flyers fans can expect to see in the lineup at the start of next season.
After the jump, this post covers: newest defenseman, Radko Gudas.
Radko Gudas’ Career Stats
People may recognize Radko Gudas as the guy that got thrown into the Braydon Coburn to the Lightning trade. With the Lightning in a win now mode, and their need for Braydon Coburn to solidify their defense, Hextall was able to get the Lightning to give up Radko Gudas, who hadn’t played the second half of last season due to knee surgery.
Now, if you’re thinking “Great. The Flyers get another defenseman who can’t stay healthy” then you may be jumping the gun. Gudas is young (only 25) and his contract is currently agreeable to the Flyers’ wallets. It makes sense for fans to at least see what Gudas can do before they start deciding he was a wasted throw in to the bigger deal.
As for Gudas’ backstory, let’s start at the beginning. He started playing over seas for HC Kladno in the Czech Republic. The Everett Silvertips in the WHL eventually drafted him during the CHL Import Draft. After a tryout with the Los Angeles Kings that yielded no results, Gudas returned to the WHL. In 2010, the Tampa Bay Lighting chose him in the third round of the NHL entry draft. He spent a majority of his time in the Lightning farm system, where he developed into a top defensive defenseman for the Norfolk Admirals in their 2012 Calder Cup winning season.
Gudas certainly has the talent to impress and his talent analysis from HockeysFuture.com should further impress fans that are unaware of his play:
Gudas is a throw-back, physical defenseman who likes to punish opposition players along the walls and in open ice. He is a bit shorter than most defensemen that play his style (possibly the reason he was passed over in two NHL drafts before being selected by the Lightning in 2010), but he has a thick frame and a high-energy motor that wears down opposing forwards. Gudas’ offensive contributions usually come from quick, crisp outlet passes or by forcing turnovers in the neutral zone. He is also a willing combatant if the situation arises.
This sounds very reminiscent of a Paul Holmgren signing, where he would value the grit over everything else. But Hextall appears to have done his homework on this trade. Gudas has the grit, can lay big hits when he has too, is responsible defensively, but he also appears to be adept at creating offense when given the opportunity. And good news for Gudas: he will be given the opportunity. The Flyers defense is in a state of flux right now and every defenseman should have to work for their spot. Gudas, if he remains healthy, has a decent shot of cracking the lineup. His contract also gives him a better shot of making it because the Flyers won’t have to pay him outrageous money (looking at you, Andy Mac).
Hextall did good to make sure Radko Gudas was included in the Coburn trade and it could prove to be a very smart inclusion if he starts to develop into a shutdown defenseman.
** Quote from http://www.hockeysfuture.com/prospects/radko_gudas/
** Stats from NHL.com