Julius Honka, the offensive defenseman playing for the Swift Current Broncos of the WHL, is one of the hardest cases to place in this 2014 NHL Draft class. Despite putting up very impressive numbers in his first year in North America, his size and physicality could put some teams off as a first round talent.
This isn’t anything new in the draft either. Looking at the 2013 draft, we see a wide disparity of similar players going in opposite directions. Josh Morrissey, and undersized offensive defenseman, went No. 13 overall. Jordan Subban, also an undersized offensive defenseman, fell all the way to the 4th round. So it really isn’t a surprise to see scouts wondering where to slot Honka this year.
What Honka does have going for him is an elite ability to move the puck, which is something that more and more teams value in defenseman. Being able to throw the outlet pass and skate with the puck is what separates Honka from other potential first round defenseman, and it’s why I expect he’ll go in early in the draft. And it’s not just NHL teams that will value this skillset: Honka has become a staple for Finland's WJC teams, laying in the U17, the U18 twice, and just recently the U20.
If he doesn’t make a quick jump to the NHL, I expect him to play for the U20 team again in a large role for a solid Finnish team.
- Born: 12-3-1995
- Nationality: Finland
- Height: 5’11"
- Weight: 174 lbs
- Position: Defense
- Team(s) – Swift Current (WHL); Finland (WJC)
With Robert Hagg and Shayne Gostisbehere, the Flyers have a solid pair of puck moving defenseman for the future, but It wouldn’t hurt to grab another. Adding Honka would give them a very good trio of high-potential puck movers and PP quarterbacks. The one thing that I think would hold Honka back from the Flyers is his size. Neither of the other players mentioned are super sized, but both have more size than Honka does.
Really, there isn’t much to say about Honka here. It’s pretty obvious what he excels at and what he lacks. It all comes down to what the new Flyers regime values in prospects. If a player like Haydn Fleury is still on the board, I would expect them to go in that direction over Honka. But if they value Honka more than any of the forwards remaining, then it wouldn’t be out of nowhere to select him.
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