The Florida Panthers have signed veteran bruising defender Radko Gudas to a three-year deal, worth $2.5 million per year according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.
The 30-year-old defender is coming off a four-year, $13.4 million contract he signed with the Philadelphia Flyers back in 2013-14 with an AAV of $3.35 million. Gudas was traded to the Washington Capitals last offseason in exchange for defensemen Matt Niskanen.
Gudas recorded two goals and 13 assists with the Capitals during the 2019-20 season. His best offensive season was back in 2016-17 with the Flyers where he had a career year in goals (six) and points (23). In 479 career games, Gudas has tallied 26 goals, 94 assists and 120 points with over 600 penalty minutes in his eight-year career.
While viewed as a third-pairing defenseman, Gudas brings a heavy and aggressive game which makes him one of the most feared players on the ice. He has a long history of suspensions and fines but has seemed to figure out when to be aggressive and when to back off. He is an intimating force any time he is on the ice and players are aware of that.
What the Panthers Will Get
Gudas joins an already deep Panthers blue line with the likes of Aaron Ekblad, Keith Yandle and Anton Stralman. After they acquired Markus Nutivaara from the Columbus Blue Jackets, as their defense is going through a minor retool.
Gudas is able to add a steady defensive presence in a third-line role as the offensive is running through Yandle and Ekblad. With the possibility of losing right-handed defensemen MacKenzie Weegar, the Panthers have found a backup option in bringing in Gudas and his stay at home defensive style in case he is dealt.
No matter how that situation plays out, Gudas is poised to bring his physicality and defensive play to the Panthers, who are looking to improve their play in their own end. They finished 26th in the league in terms of goals against and averaging 3.25 against per game (28th overall). Having Gudas in that shutdown role could be beneficial for the Panthers.