Radko Gudas, the 29-year-old Czech defenseman, was recently acquired from the Philadelphia Flyers in a straight-up trade for Washington Capitals defenseman (and Stanley Cup champion, thank you very much) Matt Niskanen.
On Tuesday afternoon, Gudas spoke to the assembled Washington media via conference call and answered questions from reporters. Japers’ Rink was on the call, and here are the juiciest tidbits you’ll want to know!
On learning he’d been traded from Philadelphia to Washington:
“I was a little bit shocked to be honest, but when I heard where I’m going I was pretty happy I was traded to a team that’s well-known for their winning and will to win every game they play. I’m excited to play with a few of my countrymen.”
Not that Gudas deliberately intended to throw any shade at the Flyers organization here, but it’s hard not to get a bellyful of scrumptious schadenfreude listening to a one-time enemy contrast his old club with the Capitals by saying “...I was traded to a team that’s well-known for their winning.” Stick it in my red-rocked veins.
And as for playing with his countrymen, Gudas got a taste of playing with speedy winger Jakub Vrana just this summer at the 2019 IIHF World Championships, and mentioned Vrana by name when asked about his talented new teammates. Combine that with the return this season of a healthy Michal Kempny, and the Caps will have plenty of opportunities to Czech themselves before they wreck themselves.
On what he plans to bring to the Capitals, and his history of suspensions:
“As you guys know, I play physical hockey.”
Understatement of the Year, Radko, but I digress.
“I worked on [my dangerous play] over the summer. I adjusted my game enough to still be able to play and not be a liability out there for my group.”
That’s encouraging talk, and reflects an understanding that in today’s NHL, you’re only as good as the plays that don’t get you kicked off the ice. Gudas mentioned Tom Wilson as someone who has successfully undergone such an evolution.
Gudas specifically mentioned moving the puck quicker, finding the first open man on the breakout, and transitioning through the neutral zone faster as areas where he can contribute.
And while Capitals fans (and players) will be glad Gudas is a friendly fighter now, let us not forget why such a change is required:
Tom Wilson:— Jason Rogers (@HeyJayJRogers) October 4, 2018
- Career goals: 35
- Career games suspended: 29
- Career goals: 20
- Career games suspended: 19
And, poetic and appropriately:
Radko Gudas injures Matt Niskanen.— Jason Rogers (@HeyJayJRogers) February 23, 2017
It's dark and hell is hot.
On playing his old team, the Caps’ Metropolitan division rival the Philadelphia Flyers, several times a year:
“Gonna be exciting for me to play my old team, but I’m in the group now and I’m looking forward to becoming friends and brothers with the guys on my team now.”
Let’s hope “exciting for me” means “painful for them.”
On the welcome he’s received so far in Washington:
“I was on the phone for most of Friday with the coaches and some of the players….I feel pretty welcome, and they’re excited to have me from what I got from that.”
On top of that, Gudas added that he’d only had a chance to briefly speak to Capitals head coach Todd Reirden over the phone because he was at a wedding this weekend, but that his new Capitals teammates have been blowing up his phone with greetings and congratulations.
On whether or not he believes the Capitals are still Stanley Cup contenders:
“One hundred percent.”
So there you have it, Caps fans. An enemy has turned friend, and the Capitals have extra cap space - and a theoretically improved blueline (sorry, Nisky) - to show for it.
Washington’s first 2019 preseason game is September 16th against the Chicago Blackhawks at Capital One Arena.