The early theme of our free agent profile series here at Devils Army Blog is defensemen. This is for a good reason, as it’s an area where the New Jersey Devils need to make it a point to improve.
An overview of the Devils’ roster shows two distinct holes in the team’s defensive group. One on the left-side in the top-four group and one on the bottom-pairing, right-side. A visual of the Devils’ projected defensive group is below:
Previously, I wrote about how the Devils’ number one priority should be to fill the top-four hole on the left-side, this with defenseman T.J. Brodie. This article will evaluate who else the Devils should consider, in order to complete the team’s right-side. Specifically, I’m evaluating former Flyers’ and Capitals’ tough-guy defenseman, Radko Gudas.
Radko Gudas is a 30-year old, right-handed defenseman. He is a former third-round pick from the Czech Republic, listed at six-foot-four and 205 pounds.
Gudas has played for three teams over his eight-year career: the Tampa Bay Lighting, the Philadelphia Flyers, and most recently one year with the Washington Capitals. Surprisingly, the borderline top-four defenseman has been traded twice.
In total, Radko Gudas has played 479 NHL games, tallying 26 goals, 94 assists, and 619 penalty minutes. This equates to roughly a 21-point pace over an 82 game season. This is not surprising, as Gudas is regarded as a defensive defenseman.
Additionally, Gudas is always near the top of the league in hits year in and year out. He averages a staggering 282 hits over an 82-game season. This aspect would be welcomed to a Devils team that has lacked this type of grit for such a long time. Lastly, Gudas does a great job blocking shots as well, blocking well above 100 shots per season.
Radko Gudas’ advanced statistics are also impressive, which is what makes him such an underrated asset. His Regularized Adjusted Plus-Minus (RAPM) chart above shows he is above the league average in several important areas.
For defenseman, it is important to note the last two bars in the chart – Expected Goals Against per 60 (xGA/60) and Corsi Against per 60 (CA/60). These are measurements of how Gudas and his team does, when he is one the ice, suppressing both the quantity (CA/60) and quality (xGA/60) of opponents’ shots and scoring opportunities. Plus, Gudas’ offensive metrics are solid, especially compared to what you might expect.
Another helpful advanced metric is Wins Above Replacement (WAR). WAR is a relatively new hockey statistic and has been used more in baseball over the years. However, for a defensive defenseman such as Gudas, I think it captures their total impact better than Goals Above Replacement (GAR) does.
Over the past three seasons, Gudas’ total WAR is 3.5. In comparison, fellow free agents Trevor Van Reimsdyk and Mark Pysyk have a 3.0 and 2.8 respectively. Note, each player has played roughly the same number of games.
Radko Gudas is slated to become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career. His expiring contract was a four-year deal with a yearly cap hit of $3,350,000. This was signed with the Flyers during the 2016-17 season.
Interestingly enough, Evolving-Hockey.com is projecting his next contract to be three-years with a salary of $3,077,000. Meanwhile, Dobber Sports Net is projecting his salary to be just a shade under what he was making before, at $3,287,155. Even still, I think that these numbers may be just slightly low.
In my eyes, Gudas is worth a three-to-four-year deal at around $3,300,000. At this price, general manager Tom Fitzgerald needs to be making a call to Radko Gudas’ agent. He would provide great value at an age still respectable for a defenseman of Gudas’ skillset.
Radko Gudas is a name many New Jersey Devils’ fans may want no part of. This because his time playing for a rival in Philadelphia showed many suspect hits and suspensions. However, that is just the edge Gudas plays with. And his gritty, tough nature is something the Devils have missed dearly on the backend.
At an affordable and valuable price, Radko Gudas would be a great fit for the Devils’ bottom-pair alongside rookie Ty Smith. His defensive-strengths would complement the offensive-minded rookie perfectly. Gudas would also provide valuable minutes on the penalty kill, and can be utilized in a shutdown role at the end of games.