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Radko Gudas Gets His Deal, Signs with Anaheim Ducks

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Florida Panthers defenseman Radko Gudas (7) grabs the face of Boston Bruins left wing Tyler Bertuzzi (59) during Game 2 in the first round of the NHL hockey playoffs, Wednesday, April 19, 2023, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

The Radko Gudas Era with the Florida Panthers came to a close on Saturday.

The popular defenseman got a deal he certainly could not turn down, getting a reported three-year deal worth $4 million annually from the Anaheim Ducks.

Alex Lyon is also moving on, signing a two-year deal with Detroit worth $900,000 annually.

Florida has added five defensemen on Saturday, signing veteran Oliver Ekman-Larsson for $2.25 million and Mike Reilly for $1 million.

The Panthers have also signed former St. Louis and New York Rangers defenseman Niko Mikkola to a three-year deal worth $7.5 million.

Dmitry Kulikov and Lucas Carlsson are also returning to the Panthers.

Florida Panthers Free Agency Tracker: Who’s Coming & Going

Gudas, 33, recently completed a three-year run with the Panthers after signing a deal worth $2.5 million annually in 2020. He was the first free agent signed by Bill Zito.

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Florida had been trying to keep Gudas but were not willing to give up that sort of money nor term.

Zito said he understood where Gudas was coming from.

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“We would like to have him back and we are trying,” Zito said on Thursday afternoon. “At the same time, you cannot begrudge a guy with free agency.”

Earlier this season, Gudas broke the Panthers’ franchise record for hits with 772 in 173 games but also has left an indelible mark on the team with his personality and leadership abilities.

“Everybody has their role in the room and Radko has a unique personality,” coach Paul Maurice said.

“When he is wired into the game, it just brings everyone else into the game. There aren’t a lot of bumps in his game, there’s not a lot of light contact. It’s usually noticed by the bench and it fires them up.”

Gudas once had the reputation of a cheapshot artist after racking up four suspensions in a three-year span but has since cleaned up his act.

He has now gone four years without getting suspended while still keeping his role as a heavy hitter.

“Radko was the big surprise when I got here in terms of quality of play,” Maurice said.

“From a technical point of view and a systems point of view, he just does not make a lot of mistakes. I think he is perceived as a runner, that he will run out of position to make hits. He will line a guy up every one in a while but he’s usually timed that right to the feel of the game.”

Gudas was a big part of the Panthers’ run through the playoffs with the picture of him yelling in the face of Toronto goalie Joseph Woll following Carter Verhaeghe’s game-winning goal in Game 5 a lasting memory of his time here.

“I definitely like having him as a teammate,’’ Anthony Duclair said, “and not have to play against him.’’

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