It’s safe to say that new Washington Capital Radko Gudas is no stranger to the NHL Department of Player Safety.
The former Philadelphia Flyers defenseman, acquired by the Capitals in a trade this week, is known for his physically intense style.
He has racked up several suspensions and more than 9 1/2 hours worth of penalty minutes in his seven-year NHL career. Still, that’s nothing the Capitals haven’t seen before.
Right wing Tom Wilson has over 15 1/2 hours worth of penalty minutes in his six seasons with Washington. Defenseman Michal Kempny had 60 minutes last season.
Gudas is right there with them.
“I’m there to play physical, as well,” Gudas said. “I believe that the more players that are playing that way, the better the team.”
After reaching 116 penalty minutes in the 2015-2016 season, he dialed it down to 63 minutes last season. While Gudas said his intense style can change the momentum in a game, he’s been working on keeping things safe.
“I thought I adjusted my game enough to still be able to play physical, just not be a liability out there for my team,” Gudas said. “It’s something hard to adjust.”
When Gudas skates for the Capitals for the first time, he said he hopes to be a stronger teammate and player. This summer, he said is working on quick movements and smart decision-making.
“I’m trying to be the best teammate that I can and accept the role that they give me,” he said.
Carl Hagelin, who was re-signed by the Capitals this week, said that Gudas is a powerful player who has “scored some big goals” when they played against each other.
“He plays a physical game,” Hagelin said on Monday. “He’s definitely not fun to play against. It’s good to have to have him on your side.”
Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said in a press release that Gudas is a dominant defender.
“Radko is a good defensive defenseman that plays a competitive, physical game,” MacLellan said.
For Gudas, the thought of joining a team “known for their winning” is still sinking in.
“As I soak it in more, I get more excited,” Gudas said.