The Tampa Bay Lightning will be without defenseman Radko Gudas for an undetermined amount of time after the 24-year old needed arthroscopic knee surgery, which took place today. He has already missed ten games this year to multiple aliments.
Update: Bryan Burns has reported on Twitter that Gudas will miss four months.
Bad news #TBLightning fans. D Radko Gudas will miss approximately 4 months with a right knee injury.
— Bryan Burns (@BBurnsNHL) January 6, 2015
A third round pick in the 2010-NHL draft, Gudas has played in 126-games last year and has registered 32-points (7 G, 25 A) in his career. He has emerged as one of the better body checkers in the league. In his first full season in the NHL, Gudas led all defenseman in penalty minutes (152) and second in hits (273).
Without Gudas in the lineup, the Lightning will be missing their most physical defenseman. Despite playing in only 31-of-41 possible games, Gudas easily leads the defensive group in hits and among its leaders in blocked shots.
Not only is he one of the team’s best hitters, he is among the leagues best at throwing the body around. In fact, if you take the top ten hitters from the blue line, Gudas’ hits-per-20-minutes played only trails Mark Borowiecki of the Ottawa Senators.
Injuries have limited his minutes in comparison to other players on the list, but averaging them out over an equal time frame (per-20-minutes), shows Gudas is the most frequent body checker among the top hitting defenseman.
What Does That Mean For The Lightning
Without Gudas in the lineup, they severally lack a physical presence on the blue line. The fact that Gudas has 115-hits on the year and the rest of the defenseman who have played this year (not counting Eric Brewer) has 136-is a testament to that.
Tampa Bay has a lot of speed and skill but don’t have a lot of grit and physical players. Gudas represented pretty much all of their physicality on the blue line. Losing him for a long period of time would be a big blow to a team already fighting a ‘soft’ label by a team at the bottom of the standings.
Anthony covers the Tampa Bay Lightning for The Hockey Writers. He is also currently a Featured Columnist for Last Word on Sports, and has held editorial positions on multiple Fansided websites and the now defunct The Farm Club.