As we begin a new round of Silvertips Alumni Reports in the 2015 offseason, this week we check in with Radko Gudas, Byron Froese, Kent Simpson, Alex Leavitt and Matt Pufahl. Check back throughout the summer for updates on the careers of other former Silvertips players!
National Hockey League
Radko Gudas (2009-10) – Tampa Bay Lightning/Philadelphia Flyers
Bruising Czech defenseman Radko Gudas endured more than one interesting twist this season, suffering a season-ending injury and experiencing his first trade to a new club. He expected to play his second full season with the Tampa Bay Lightning this year after becoming a full-time NHLer in the second half of the 2012-13 campaign. In just his 31st game of the year however, Gudas sustained a knee injury December 29 vs. Toronto that required surgery and effectively marked the end of his season. He was still involved in the action at the NHL trade deadline in March however, as Tampa Bay sent the former Silvertip to Philadelphia along with its first and third-round picks in this year’s draft in exchange for defenseman (and former Portland star) Braydon Coburn. Gudas will join the Flyers next season after totaling 32 points (7g/25a), 224 penalty minutes and an even plus/minus rating in 126 games with the Lightning. CLICK HERE for a cool story about Gudas and his dad, Leo.
American Hockey League
Byron Froese (2008-10) – Toronto Marlies
Froese enjoyed by far his most productive run in the AHL this season – despite barely appearing in the league until December – and has already earned himself a contract for next year as a result. The Winkler, Manitoba product finished the 2013-14 season with Cincinnati of the ECHL and led the Cyclones in scoring early this year following a brief three-game stint with the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage in October. Froese found a new AHL home in December however, catching on with the Toronto Marlies and proving to make a big impact. Froese finished fourth on the team in scoring with 42 points (18g/24a) and tied for second with a +22 rating despite playing just 46 games with the Marlies. As the #7 seed in the Western Conference playoffs, Toronto then pushed #2 seed Grand Rapids to the brink of elimination before losing three straight in a best-of-five first round playoff series, with Froese notching four points (1g/3a) in the series. CLICK HERE for a profile from TheAHL.com on Froese, who has already inked a deal to return to the Marlies next season.
Kent Simpson (2008-12) – Stockton Thunder
Four-year Silvertips goaltender and former Chicago Blackhawks second-round draft pick Kent Simpson manned the crease for three teams this season. Simpson and defenseman Nick Leddy were traded from the Blackhawks to the New York Islanders just before the start of the NHL season in exchange for three prospects. Simpson began the year with the ECHL’s Colorado Eagles, but was re-assigned by the Islanders to the Stockton Thunder, where he would play alongside fellow Silvertips alumni Tyler Maxwell and JT Barnett. He was recalled to the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers twice during the season, posting a 2.61 goals-against average and a .900 saves percentage despite a 1-3 record in four games. Simpson was 8-19-1 with a 3.39 GAA and .900 SV% in 29 ECHL appearances for the Eagles and Thunder.
European Pro Hockey
Alex Leavitt (2004-05) – Ravensburg Towerstars (Germany, DEL2)
Edmonton, Alberta native Alex Leavitt, who was a point-per-game player in the regular season and playoffs for the 2004-05 Silvertips, enjoyed a solid season for the Ravensburg Towerstars of the German second league, known as DEL2. For his seventh straight year in the European pro ranks, Leavitt returned to Ravensburg after initially playing for the club in 2010-11. He scored 19 goals and assisted on 30 others for 49 points in 44 regular season games to rank fourth on the team in scoring as the Towerstars finished fifth in the league with a 29-19-4 record. Leavitt then added two goals in three points in the playoffs as Ravensburg was swept by the Frankfurt Lions in the league quarterfinals.
Canadian Collegiate Hockey
Matt Pufahl (2013-14), Acadia University Axemen
Former Silvertips captain Matt Pufahl, a Saskatoon, Saskatchewan native, traveled across the continent to Wolfville, Nova Scotia to take advantage of his WHL scholarship by enrolling at Acadia University this season. His freshmen season for the Axemen was a solid one as Pufahl totaled 16 points (4g/12a), 38 penalty minutes and a +1o rating in 28 games, good for second among defensemen and ninth overall on the team in scoring. Acadia finished second in the Atlantic University Sport conference with a 20-5-3 record before falling to the University of New Brunswick for the championship. Still, the Axemen qualified for the CIS (Canada’s version of the NCAA) 2015 University Cup National Championship tournament in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Acadia lost a 5-2 third-period lead in the first round of the tournament however, falling 6-5 in overtime to the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières Patriotes.
The Silvertips are currently preparing for the 13th season of WHL hockey in Everett in 2015-16. To keep up with all the latest Silvertips news and information throughout the offseason, visit www.everettsilvertips.com, “like” the Everett Silvertips Hockey Club on Facebook or follow @WHLSilvertips on Twitter. For questions, call the team office at 425-252-5100.