The Dallas Stars have signed first-round pick Julius Honka, the defenseman from the Swift Current Broncos of the WHL.
Honka was selected 14th overall by the Dallas Stars in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. He stands at a questionable 5’10” in regards to his position as a defenseman. He weighs in at around 181 pounds, all of this being an 18 year old.
He’s a right-handed shooter, something that the Stars seriously lack in their defensive arsenal ever since the departure of Stephane Robidas, so Jim Nill had good reason for drafting him.
The Finnish-born Honka had a tremendous and true breakout season last year with the Broncos. He played in 62 games and ended up with 16 goals and 40 assists, which equals out to 56 points, some very impressive numbers from an 18 year old rookie. His goal numbers are just a quick look at the offensive skill he possesses, another trait the Stars blue line seems to lack, and a trait that Jim Nill and Lindy Ruff noticed through scouting and development camp. Honka is a very-offensive minded player that loves to put the puck in the net in addition to finding other teammates sticks.
Stars director of amateur scouting Joe McDonnell was very optimistic about Honka’s style of play and future, saying, ““I think any defenseman at that age needs work in their own end, especially at the pro level, but he plays it fine. He competes. Obviously he is not a [6-foot-3] defenseman, but he plays bigger than he is. He goes into the corner to make plays to get the puck out of his zone. He makes a great first pass out, but all defenseman at that age need to learn how to play defense at the pro level.” McDonnell also believes that once the full development of Honka is complete that he will be able to run the Stars power play, which ailed all of the previous season and cannot seem to find a reliable leader.
Like Valeri Nichushkin, the Dallas Stars 2013 NHL Entry Draft first round pick, he was surrounded by big talk after the draft and many believe the Stars made out like bandits with a steal of a pick for the second draft in a row. Contrary to Nichushkin, though, Honka may not be seeing NHL time in the upcoming season, though he thoroughly impressed the coaching staff at the Stars development camp last week. He could very well see a starting spot on the Texas Stars, the Dallas Stars AHL affiliate, who are recently coming off a Calder Cup Championship. If he produces well down in Austin like many defenseman before him have, he could be substituted into an injury reserve spot for the Dallas Stars. Honka will most likely be present at a few Stars preseason games, solely so he can gain a little bit of experience and learn about everything that goes on in the big leagues.
Honka signed a three-year, entry level contract with the Stars just minutes ago.