Lightning announce Gudas out four months following knee surgery

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The Tampa Bay Lightning will be without their most physical defenseman for quite some time.

Following his knee surgery on Tuesday, Radko Gudas has been ruled out for the next four months, the club announced. Gudas, who led the club in hits (115) and was fourth among all NHL defensemen despite missing 10 games this year, looked to be on track for a return this week but suffered some sort of setback while skating, which led to surgery.

“To take a guy who is pretty heavy on the back end, plays with a lot of grit, especially off our team, it’s a big hole,” Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said, per the Tampa Bay Times.

The 24-year-old rearguard has struggled with minor ailments this season, which limited him to just 31 appearances and 17 minutes a night. When healthy, though, Gudas provides a nastiness that’s vital to Tampa Bay’s defense, and some offensive flair as well — last year, he racked up 22 points in 73 games and finished third among all Bolts d-men in scoring.

Looking at the calendar, four months of recovery would rule Gudas out for the remainder of the regular season, though there is a chance he could get healthy enough to return for the playoffs.