Last season, the Philadelphia Flyers traded veteran defender Braydon Coburn to the Tampa Bay Lightning for defenseman Radko Gudas and first- and third-round picks in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. While Coburn was a valued part of the Flyers defensive force for the majority of the last nine years, Gudas has been seen as a fringe NHL player. In his three years with the Lightining, Gudas suited up for 126 out of a possible 212 games.
While Gudas showed some promise during the 2013-14 season where he played in 73 games, scored three goals, assisted on 19 more and was a plus-2, he also accumulated 152 penalty minutes.
This year, Gudas has played in 50 games for the Flyers, has three assists is a minus-1 skater and has accumulated 86 penalty minutes, the eighth most in the NHL. Looking back at Gudas’ career, his net penalty differential (penalties taken versus drawn) is a minus-42. This season, Gudas has a Corsi For percentage of 52.3 at even strength while logging 16.2 minutes per game.
Scouts have expressed their displeasure at Gudas’ incredibly low hockey IQ. One scout told me this:
Gudas is a player you love to have at times, but he can also hurt a team at the worst possible moments
When asked about his own play style, Gudas had this to say:
Setting the tone a little bit is part of my game; it’s who I am. The Flyers got me here for a reason, so I want to make sure that everyone knows I’m on the ice and be the best for my team that I can.
Teams do know when Gudas is on the ice, he’s a player as some have said “you always have to be looking over your shoulder for.” The way he’s remained in the NHL is that, generally speaking, his contributions on the ice have been positive and haven’t hurt his team, until this season.
Radko Gudas’ Frustrating 2015-16
To date, Gudas has already been suspended this year for an illegal check to the head, which means he will be judged as a repeat offender in the case of any new potential suspension. A few games ago, Gudas was at it again when he laid a bone-shaking hit on Daniel Catenacci in a game with the Buffalo Sabres.
Although no suspension was given to Gudas for this hit, Catenacci was diagnosed with a concussion and remains on injured reserve. The game against the Flyers was his third of the season and he had just earned a call-up from the AHL.
Last night, the Flyers surprisingly erupted during the third period and lit up the New Jersey Devils in a 6-3 win, but guess what? Good ‘ole Gudas was at it again. This time, he took a cheap shot on former Pittsburgh Penguin Bobby Farnham.
Gudas was immediately given a match penalty and thrown out of the game without hesitation by the referees.
This marks Gudas’ fifth questionable hit of the season and by all reports, he will not have a hearing for the hit.
It’s getting to the point where Gudas’ antics are beginning to hurt the Flyers. However, he’s a player that still has tremendous value to the organization; how could that be?
Every NHL team that isn’t a lock to be a playoff team has to discuss quite a few things before making any moves or trades, and Philadelphia this season is included in that group. One aspect of any trade that they need to discuss is how this looks from the fans’ perspective and will it help or hurt ticket sales?
Gudas is a player that sells tickets.
The modern NHL is moving away from huge hits, fights and physical play to a style that requires speed, soft hands and creativity. Gudas clearly does not fit the bill of a modern NHL player, but he continues to help the Flyers sell tickets.
Another scout had this to say about Gudas and the business topics discussed before making any moves.
At the end of the day, professional hockey is a business and tickets have to be sold. For sure, any moves have to be thoroughly examined from a business standpoint before being made and Gudas was included in that deal (Coburn trade) to help the Flyers sell tickets. The NHL is undergoing a transition, the older fans still love seeing big hits and fights, while the younger generation loves the speed and offensive creativity. That’s where Gudas has value, he identifies with the old “Broad Street Bullies” that the Flyers used to be and there are quite a few fans that resonates with.
While Gudas’ play may be hurting the Flyers, it’s looking like they won’t be pushing for the playoffs and if Gudas helps the team sell tickets, then he’ll remain in the lineup.
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Michael Pityk is an analyst who has written for numerous sites since beginning his professional career. He’s acted as a credentialed member of the media for the Philadelphia Phillies, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Pirates and the Pittsburgh Penguins. His work has been featured in Sports Illustrated, The Sports Journal, MSN, PensLabyrinth, Montreal Hockey Talk, ESPN Pittsburgh, The Hockey Writers, Todays SlapShot and The Bleacher Report. He formerly was the editor of Pens Labyrinth and an analyst for The Sports Journal. Michael presently acts as an NHL Analyst for The Hockey Writers