Photo: TBL

The Tampa Bay Lightning announced on Tuesday that they would be without defenseman Radko Gudas for the rest of the regular season.

The twenty-four year old Czech will be four months following an arthroscopic knee surgery. Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman said that some cartilage was damaged and repaired, which will take time.

“It’s a little tough to digest right now, just because clearly it’s more serious than we thought,” coach Jon Cooper said. “It’s hard for me to comment, because I’ve had him for a long time, so I know what he means to us. I’m sure if you ask players on other teams what it’s like to go into a corner with Radko, they’re probably not going to have great things to say. So 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. So it’s tough. You feel for him because he’s really finding his own in the league.”

Without the six-foot 204-lb defenseman, Andrej Sustr, Mark Barberio and rookie Nikita Nesterov will get more opportunity to play. It helps that Barberio, Nesterov, Matt Carle, and Jason Garrison can all play right-side, even as lefties.

The Lightning traded veteran blue-liner Eric Brewer in November to the Anaheim Ducks; this trade allowed for them to add a big name defenseman to the roster. Unfortunately, that opportunity is not out there at this time.

“Top-four (defensemen) are extremely hard to find,” Yzerman said. “Teams aren’t giving them away, aren’t trading them either.”

It will be interesting to see what kind of players the Lighnting add between now and the trade deadline.

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