The Capitals have sent defenseman Matt Niskanen to Philadelphia in exchange for blueliner Radko Gudas. The move helped the Caps shed the remaining two years of Niskanen’s $5.75M contract, replacing it with one year of Gudas for $3.35M (with the Flyers retaining 30% of his salary this season).
For the Caps, the main feature of this trade is the clearing of salary cap space for each of the next two seasons. That’s important for Washington as it endeavors to sign restricted free agents Jakub Vrana and Andre Burakovsky to new deals while also trying to retain unrestricted free agent wingers Brett Connolly, Carl Hagelin, Dmitrij Jaskin and/or Devante Smith-Pelly this summer. It’s also important for next summer, when Caps stalwarts Nicklas Backstrom and Braden Holtby can become unrestricted free agents.
Niskanen is coming off of a disappointing 2018-19 season, with 25 points in 80 games and plenty of struggles in the defensive end. The departure of Niskanen begins what could be a big transformation on the blue line this summer, as Brooks Orpik will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and is most likely not returning to DC next season.
Here’s the team release on the trade:
The Washington Capitals have acquired defenseman Radko Gudas from the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for defenseman Matt Niskanen, senior vice president and general manager Brian MacLellan announced today.
”We would like to thank Matt for all of his contributions to our organization for the past five seasons,” MacLellan said. “Matt is a consummate professional and was a big part of our success. We wish him and his family all the best moving forward.
”We feel this move provides us with financial flexibility as we look for additional ways to strengthen our team. In addition, we are pleased to welcome Radko to our organization. Radko is a good defensive defenseman that plays a competitive, physical game.”
Gudas, 29, a native of Prague, Czech Republic, recorded 20 points (4g, 16a) in 77 games with the Flyers last season, his third career season with at least 20 points. The 6’0”, 204-pound defenseman’s 51.14 goals for percentage at five-on-five ranked first among Flyers defensemen and second overall on the team (Claude Giroux: 53.13) among players with at least 30 games played. Additionally, Gudas’ 202:06 total penalty kill minutes were the second most on Philadelphia.
In 416 career games between Philadelphia and the Tampa Bay Lightning, Gudas has collected 105 points (24g, 81a) and recorded 579 penalty minutes. Gudas, who was selected by Tampa Bay in the third round (66th overall) in the 2010 NHL Draft, ranks fourth in games played by a defenseman from that class. Additionally, Gudas’ career 51.88 shot attempt percentage (6,487 shot attempts for, 6,018 against) at five-on-five ranks 23rd in the NHL among active defensemen with at least 400 career games since 2012-13, Gudas’ rookie year. Since 2012-13, Gudas ranks second among NHL defensemen in hits (1,484).
Internationally, Gudas appeared in the IIHF World Championship for Team Czech Republic, recording four points (1g, 3a) in 10 games. In 34 career international games, Gudas has 10 points (4g, 6a).