Prospect of the Week: March 12, 2013

We continue our Prospect of the Week award, an honor (virtually) given to one Tampa Bay Lightning prospect for their recent contributions on and off the ice.

The Prospect of the Week for March 12 is … Radko Gudas, D, Tampa Bay (NHL – USA).

Lightning prospect followers have waited both patiently and impatiently for Radko Gudas to be called up to Tampa Bay, and it finally happened on Monday – but that’s not why he’s our 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 will make his NHL debut on Tuesday night for the Lightning.

Enjoy.

Honorable Mention: Nikita Kucherov had five points last week - all in one game. He had a hat trick and two assists against the Rimouski Oceanic on Saturday.

(Eric DuBose photo)

Previous 2012-2013 Prospect of the Week winners:

February 4, Ondrej Palat, W, Syracuse, AHL-USA
February 25, Ondrej Palat, W, Syracuse, AHL-USA
February 19, Nikita Kucherov, W, Rouyn-Noranda, QMJHL-Canada
February 12, Alex Killorn, C/W, Tampa Bay, NHL-USA
February 5, Cory Conacher, W, Tampa Bay, NHL-USA
January 30, Nikita Kucherov, W, Rouyn-Noranda, QMJHL-Canada
January 23, Cory Conacher, W, Tampa Bay, NHL-USA
January 15, Artem Sergeev, D, Val-d’Or, QMJHL-Canada
World Juniors break
December 17, Alex Killorn, C/W, Syracuse, AHL-Canada
December 10, Nikita Kucherov, RW, Rouyn-Noranda, QMJHL-Canada
December 3, Cedric Paquette, C, Blainville-Boisbriand, QMJHL-Canada
November 25, Tyler Johnson, C, Syracuse, AHL-USA
November 20, Richard Panik, W, Syracuse, AHL-USA
November 12, Alex Hutchings, W, Florida, ECHL-USA
November 5, Nikita Kucherov, W, Quebec, QMJHL-Canada
October 30, Slater Koekkoek, D, Peterborough, OHL-Canada
October 23, Dustin Tokarski, G, Syracuse, AHL-USA
October 15, Cory Conacher, W, Syracuse, AHL-USA
October 9, Cedric Paquette, C, Blainville-Boisbriand, QMJHL-Canada
October 2, Andrei Vasilevskiy, G, Ufa Jr, MHL-Russia
September 25, Andrei Vasilevskiy, G, Ufa Jr, MHL-Russia