There isn’t a Philadelphia Flyer that could have ended his season on a worse note than Radko Gudas. First, the defenseman injured Sean Couturier accidentally before Game 4. Then, Gudas’ mistakes in the second period of Game 6 cost the Flyers a lead and their season.
Mix that with a poor season overall, his history of disciplinary action that’s likely to only escalate and the growing stable of NHL-ready defensemen and Gudas has been a favorite for a trade since the offseason ended by both pundits and fans.
So what are the Flyers options in dealing with the intimidating blueliner?
Packaging Him in a Deal
As the Flyers evolve from rebuilder to contender, fans on Twitter and hockey forums are beginning to scope out talent on other teams such as Dougie Hamilton, Mike Hoffman and Jeff Skinner to name a few. To close in on the value of trade assets, Gudas has consistently been included in many of the mock trades.
But the Czech Republic native doesn’t fit for most of the other team’s holes.
Hamilton, a right-handed shot defenseman, would be a great fit with Ivan Provorov, but the Calgary Flames have said they don’t want to trade their rearguard and with Mark Giordano, TJ Brodie and Travis Hamonic still on the roster, they’d likely want a forward in return. That makes Wayne Simmonds a possibility, but not Gudas.
Ottawa, the current home of Hoffman, is beginning a rebuild and stocking up on draft picks and prospects likely seems more appealing than a 28 year old — though Gudas does hold value as a turn-and-trade for a pick.
However, that does leave Skinner and the Carolina Hurricanes left on the short list of Flyers fans’ favorite trade targets. I think there could be a match there.
The ‘Canes, loaded with a new owner, GM and coach, have said they’d like to get tougher to play against. They’re reportedly open to moving defenseman Justin Faulk and have just four others under contract control for next season.
Though a right-handed blueliner, Faulk is more of a power play specialist — something Philly has in stock — so he’d have to be moved in a separate deal. But the Flyers should be interested in Skinner or possibly Victor Rask to fill their scoring winger or third-line center hole, respectively.
Returning to Gudas, he’d certainly achieve the Hurricanes’ goal of getting tougher and help shore up the defense. For Skinner, the Flyers would have to add, but Rask, a $4 million center that scored 31 points last year, a one-for-one deal might work.
On the negative side, Rask has four years left on his deal, blocking any youngsters like Morgan Frost or Mikhail Vorobyev. And of course, the Flyers could look anywhere for a trade, but I think Carolina is a match that pops out right away.
Trading for a Pick
For the first time since taking over as general manager, Ron Hextall will not have a draft pick in the third round due to the Petr Mrazek trade. Given his track record, it’s fair to assume he will want to change that and Gudas may be the perfect asset.
As an intimidating right-handed blueliner capable of manning a third pairing and making $3.35 million for the next two seasons, a third-round pick seems within question.
If the Flyers are looking for just a pick in return, there should be more suitors behind that door. The Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche could all be possible options.
The biggest caveat with this route — and trading him in a package — is that the Flyers have to believe Myers is ready for an NHL role or a seventh defenseman can be brought in.
Just Keep Gudas
The second paragraph in the last section probably makes most wonder why the Flyers would want to move Gudas so badly anyways? His deal lasts for just two years and doesn’t break the bank.
The best news is that Manning won’t be in Philly so he shouldn’t have that big of a liability as a partner. In fact, when Gudas played with Travis Sanheim to start the year, the two put up strong possession stats, but struggled in actually scoring.
But Gudas will also be premium insurance should Myers not be ready and if there’s any injuries. He’s definitely a better option than any sixth or seventh signed in free agency.
Should Gudas last through the summer, the team can also opt to make a trade during training camp if Myers is ready or later in the season when Sam Morin returns from injury. Although the market will be smaller, injuries may make teams more desperate.
If the Flyers end up holding onto Gudas for another season, things will likely turn out fine. But there’s plenty of merit to dealing him also.