It’s easy as a Flyers fan to get lost in the bright lights.
With a pool of defensive prospects so deep you could conduct an Olympic diving competition, you could be forgiven for wanting all defensemen over 25 years of age to be banished and gutted from the roster permanently, making room for the young future stars we have all been drooling over for the past two or three years.
Unfortunately, a team needs at least some players who have actual experience to guide the youngsters until they reach their full potential. In addition to that, another useful player to have is someone who provides some sort of physical presence.
Even as the league pivots more and more to a speed based game, there is nothing wrong with a little protection as long as the player providing it can keep up. These past few years, this role on the Flyers has been filled admirably by Radko Gudas.
Gudas, who was acquired in a trade from Tampa Bay in 2014, has quietly been one of the Flyers most consistent defensemen since his acquisition. He may not be a wizard with the puck or an offensive dynamo, but as a stay-at-home, physical rearguard, Gudas, 27, has been solid.
Last year, Gudas stepped up his play even further, leading the Flyers in hits as well as coming fourth in the entire league in that stat. In addition, Gudas finished fifth on the Flyers in ice time at 19:28 per game, as well as finishing with a tidy +8 plus/minus rating. And to top it all off, Gudas was able to put up a respectable 23 points throughout his 67 games.
Gudas is not going to have the flashy offensive outbursts of Shayne Gostisbehere, or the ability to single-handedly set up a power play like Ivan Provorov, we all know that. But he is a necessary cog in the much bigger machine. With the defensive corps looking to becoming younger yet again this season, veteran presence is essential. Gudas’ experience on the back end is very valuable, especially if his stout defensive play can rub on some of the more offensively minded players. Combine that with his hard-nosed style that Gudas’ can use to protect some of his younger teammates, and it’s clear that he will be an important asset to the team for the future.
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