After Radko Gudas was handed a 10-game suspension on November 19, 2017 for a slash to the neck of Mathieu Perreault, he knew he had to change his style of play. He had to change his game entirely from a physical-solid defenseman, to a defenseman first, but know when to be physical.
It has taken Gudas some time to change his style of play while remaining a solid defenseman. However, it’s better late than never. Gudas has finally found his groove in the 2018-19 season, as he has been the Flyers best, most consistent defenseman this season. Why would the Flyers want to trade him?
Most NHL teams would make their best defenseman untradeable. However, Gudas’s name has been floated around in many trades, with the Toronto Maple Leafs being the most interested team to date. It’s mind-boggling that Gudas is still fighting for respect as a solid defenseman this season. Some say trade him because he’s never been this good, so trade him before his value decreases. While others say trade him because of the log jam of young defensemen in the Flyers system.
These are all great problems to have. The Flyers can never have too many defensemen. Samuel Morin is currently conditioning with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Who knows what you’re going to get from him when he makes the big show. The same can be said for Philippe Myers. Yes, he looked great yesterday against the Detroit Red Wings in his NHL debut, however, it’s a small sample size. Expecting greatness from these young players is wrong. There will be some growing pains for sure.
Every team needs a solid veteran to help the young players mature. Gudas provides just that. Andrew MacDonald most likely won’t be back next year. Moreover, one or two veterans in Shayne Gostisbehere and Gudas are great to have considering the Flyers average age on the blue line next year will be 24.
Gudas isn’t the flashiest defenseman that’s for sure, but he plays the game hard and well. He is on pace for a career year this year while potting two goals, 11 assists, and is a plus 13. Simply put, if the season concluded today Gudas would win the Barry Ashbee Trophy as the Flyers best Defenseman.
This defenseman in Gudas has gotten better with his gap control this season. He also provides a net-front presence for Carter Hart, and the now Cam Talbot. Gudas isn’t afraid to physical in front of his netminder, which allows the goalie to see the shot. These are important aspects of his game that cannot be taken for granted.
Lastly, here’s the Corsi Ratings (EV) according to hockeyreference.com:
Shayne Gostisbehere- 52.2%
Radko Gudas- 51.8%
Travis Sanheim- 51.0%
Ivan Provorov- 48.7%
Robert Hagg- 45.1%
Andrew MacDonald- 44.4%
If the Flyers trade Gudas, it could really come back to bite them. The keys to winning a Stanley Cup in the NHL are goaltending and defense. Adding a top-four defenseman at the trade deadline is warranted, but trading Gudas to do such may create another hole that the Flyers would have to fill. With that, who knows if that hole would be successfully filled this season and beyond.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports