Lightning prospect followers have waited both patiently and impatiently for 2010 third round pick Radko Gudas to be called up to Tampa Bay, and it finally happened on Monday – but that’s not why he’s our Bolt Prospect of the Week.
Gudas, a right-handed defenseman taken in the 2010 draft’s third round, had two assists in three games last week in what could have been his final appearances in the American Hockey League. This week’s award recognizes his season-long accomplishments that don’t show up on the scoresheet – big minutes in all game situations, and a rock for the AHL’s best team, statistically.
On the scoresheet, he did have an assist in Toronto last Wednesday, then added another apple in St. John’s on Sunday as the Radko Gudas Show made it’s way to the continent’s eastern-most point.
Even the icebergs cowered in fear of the beard.
Gudas, who has already matched his career high of 20 points in 16 fewer games, was plus-3 for the week, raising his league-leading plus/minus rating to plus-32. He was plus-19 last year and plus-15 the year before that.
Gudas is an energetic, physical player in the mold of Darius Kasparaitus and Scott Stevens. He has good enough puck skills to elevate his ceiling from that of a 4/5 NHL defenseman to a solid second pair minute-eater capable of 25 points in a season. And a lot of ticket sales.
He will inject the Lightning with energy, responsible play, and maybe above anything else, physicality. And if the Bolts don’t make the playoffs, he can return to help lead his fellow Lightning prospects to a second straight Calder Cup.
Gudas has spent the last three years honing his professional game in the AHL and the reward has finally come. He made his NHL debut on Tuesday night for the Lightning, logging a responsible 15 minutes of ice time.
Honorable Mention: Nikita Kucherov had five points last week – all in one game. The Rouyn-Noranda winger had a hat trick and two assists against the Rimouski Oceanic on Saturday.