Philadelphia Flyers Defenseman Radko Gudas raised his stock perhaps more than any other player with an eye-catching season.
I have to be honest, I fell in love with Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas this season. I can’t think of any Flyer since Eric Lindros who embodied the word “beast” on the ice like Radko Gudas did last season. His combination of size, strength, and aggression causing opponents to tread carefully on the ice isn’t seen in the league much any more.
For these reasons, I was happy to drive the Radko Gudas bandwagon this season. In fact, when texting with Flyers fan buddies, I programmed my phone to autocorrect to GUDAS at all times, to properly recognize his beastliness. But before saying more, let’s go back to the beginning of the season.
Gudas’ season started with low expecations, to say the least. Seemingly a throw-in in the Braydon Coburn trade from a year ago, he had yet to appear for the Flyers due to injury. Furthermore, he started this season as a healthy scratch. With only one year left on his contract, his future as a Flyer was very much up in the air.
Due to the in-season shuffling of the Flyers defensive corps, Gudas eventually got chances. He made a mark with those chances, however, and parlayed it into more and more ice time. By midseason, Gudas had played his way up to the de facto top pair with Michael Del Zotto.
In addition to that coveted role, Gudas was really making his presence felt. He was all over the scoresheet piling up shots and hitting everything that moved. He actually risked becoming more notorious than anything, earning a suspension as well as a few other close calls.
Fortunately Gudas was able to rein himself in as necessary. The end result was some very nice numbers.
Gudas was the team’s best Corsi performer on defense, finished second among all NHL defensemen in hits per game at 4.0, and finished 2nd on the Flyers for shots by a defensemen (trailing Ghost by only 2). That’s a busy guy.
That certainly qualifies as a breakthrough season in my book. That is a veritable tsunami of performance indicators. Gudas eye-catching season can be tempered by a few factors, however.
For one, Gudas was a regular penalty-killer, but he may not have been very good at it.
It is troubling that Gudas’ expected goals against per 60 minutes of 4v5 ice time is so much higher than his teammates. That is a sign that something is going wrong for him on the penalty kill.
Second, Gudas on-ice and individual shot quality may be lagging.
“Expected” shooting percentages are a new thing, taking the shot location and applying league-wide shooting percentages from that spot in that situation. Taking it for what it’s worth, the numbers reflect relatively poorly on Gudas. His “expected” PDO is the second lowest on the team behind Manning. This may indicate that, while he’s doing a great job on total shot differential, the shots he concedes on the ice tend to be a little higher quality than the shots the Flyers get themselves.
A similar effect is seen on Gudas’ individual shooting percentage. At only 3.3%, it is among the lowest on the team. This is despite the fact that he has a cannon for a shot.
This can be explained by the fact that Gudas’ average shot distance is 57.61 feet, clearly the worst on the team. Gudas doesn’t skate with the puck very well, so he tends to throw the puck at the net even when there’s almost no chance of scoring.
All in all, it was a big, memorable season for Radko Gudas. He certainly made his name with Philadelphia Flyers fans with his increasing role, and also made his name around the league with his menacing physical presence.
He also piled up the numbers, which always pays off in the long run. His penalty kill performance and low shooting percentage show limitations to his game, most likely reflecting his limited skating and puck-carrying ability. This means Gudas isn’t going to be confused with PK Subban, but he can bring a lot to the table for the Flyers moving forward.
So, as Gudas looks for a new long-term contract with the Philadelphia Flyers this offseason, I implore you to join me on the GUDAS bandwagon.