March 16, 2013; Tampa FL, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Radko Gudas (75) skates with the puck against the Carolina Hurricanes during the first period at Tampa Times Forum. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay Lightning Strengthen Defense, Sign Radko Gudas to 3 Year Contract

The Tampa Bay Lightning have made a decisive move to strengthen their defensive core. Today, Lightning Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman announced that the Lightning have signed defenseman Radko Gudas to a 3-Year Contract.

It would seem that Coach Cooper knows exactly what he wants. On the very last day of the Regular Season, Lightning Head Coach Jon Cooper was the guest on Lightning Hockey Hotline, the Lightning’s Post-Game show on 970WFLA. After the conclusion of the show, Coach Cooper stuck around to meet the fans and answer questions. Knowing that he would not be able to answer a direct question like “Will such and such player still be here next season, my fiancée found a roundabout way of getting his answer in the form of a question that the coach could answer. He asked Coach Cooper, “Is there any chance that we will see Gudas again next season?” to which the Coach replied decisively, “A very good chance.” This was music to my fiancée’s ears.

Gudas was due to become a Restricted Free Agent this summer.

Lightning GM Steve Yzerman said in a statement earlier today,

He played well in his first NHL season and we look forward to him playing an important role on our defense in the coming years.’’ ~ via Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune

While the team declined to release the financial terms of his newly minted contract, it is believed that this contract is a one-way contract for all three years of the deal. This means that Gudas will receive the same amount whether he plays for the Lightning or their AHL affiliate Syracuse Crunch next season. This means that we should expect to see a lot more of the 6 foot, 204 pound defenseman on the Lightning next season.

The Prague, Czech Republic native played a total of 22 games with the Lightning last season. He made his debut with the team in Sunrise against the Florida Panthers on March 12th. Just 4 games later, Gudas would score his first ever NHL goal in the 3rd period against the Toronto Maple Leafs on March 20th.

In the time he spent with the Lightning this season, he scored 2 goals and 3 assists for a total of 5 points in addition to his plus-3 rating. He spent a total of 38 minutes in the penalty box this season. Despite only playing half of this already shortened season on the main roster, Gudas was ranked seventh in the NHL among rookies with 87 hits.

Gudas played a total of 57 games with the Syracuse Crunch this season. During that time, he scored 4 goals and 16 assists for a total of 20 points, along with a plus-32 rating, and spending a whopping 207 minutes in the penalty box.

Radko Gudas has become synonymous with the term hard hitting defenseman this season. While being on the short side of Lightning d-men, in comparison to the 6’6” Victor Hedman and Keith Aulie, Gudas hits like a truck. It is because of his hard hitting play style that the hashtag #FearTheBeard has become commonplace among hockey fans on Twitter.

I don’t know about you, but personally, I am ecstatic that the Lightning pulled the trigger and inked Gudas for another 3 years. The Lightning have been plagued with issues on the defensive line this season, and Gudas is a great addition, and absolutely the right move to start rectifying some of those issues.

 

What do you think of the Gudas’ re-signing? Are you happy that we’ll have 3 more years to #FearTheBeard? Sound off in the comments below and let your voice be heard!

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