The Philadelphia Flyers signed Radko Gudas to a multi-year contract extension for a significant cap hit, but only opponents should fear this contract
Late last night, the Philadelphia Flyers completed a new, multi-year contract for defenseman Radko Gudas. The contract will carry a cap hit of $3.35 million per season for 4 years.
Last anyone heard, there were ominous reports that contract talks between the Flyers and Gudas “were not going well.” So much for that. This ticks a major item of Hextall’s offseason to-do list.
Now there is concern among many Flyers fans that the cap hit is too high for a guy like Gudas. Flyers reporters were lining up yesterday to say the money was too high. This line of thinking does not appreciate what Gudas brought to the team last year.
Our season review showed Gudas had a remarkable season.
To cut straight to the core of Gudas’ performance:
"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."
This standout performance is balanced out by subpar penalty killing, taking a few too many penalties, and not being very mobile with the puck. He’s not an all-star, but he was a force for the Flyers last season. This performance last season was easily that of a $3+ million defenseman (probably closer to a $4 million player, in truth).
Consider comparable contracts for defensemen across the NHL. Gudas’ contract is now between players such as Simon Despres ($3.7), Mark Fayne ($3.625), Erik Gudbranson ($3.5), Ladislav Smid ($3.5), Cody Franson ($3.325), Brenden Dillon ($3.270), and Clayton Stoner ($3.250). Given the going rate for these unremarkable players, it’s not like the Flyers are paying Gudas the salary rate of NHL stars.
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Furthermore, consider what the Philadelphia Flyers themselves have paid stay-at-home, physical defensemen. They recently paid Nicklas Grossmann $3.5 million, and Luke Schenn $3.6 million. Neither of those players were anything close to the positive possession player Gudas is, nor were they as influential physically as Gudas. By the end of last season, opposing forwards were pulling up in the neutral zone when Gudas was on the ice for fear of a big hit. When was the last time the Flyers had someone like that in the back?
The Flyers have been looking for an impact, stay-at-home defenseman. Now they appear to have one, and they’ve locked him up at the going rate of average-at-best NHL defenders, and less than they paid less impactful players in Schenn and Grossmann. Additionally, as an intimidating, right-handed player, Gudas is a complement to the young, mobile, and left-handed defensemen the Flyers have coming through the system.
The only realistic complaint about this contract is whether Gudas has performed like this long enough to prove he can do it year-in, year-out. A 2-year “show me” contract could have assured the Flyers that Gudas wasn’t a flash in the pan last season.
Long story short, if Gudas simply plays the same as he did last season, he will definitely earn those dollars. Opponents should fear an open-ice Gudas hit more than Philadelphia Flyers fans fear this contract.