The last time Julius Honka took the ice for the Dallas Stars was in January of 2019.
The once 14th selection overall in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft would then request a trade thus completing the fan-created “Free Honka” movement for good. Or, so we thought.
The Stars recently announced the re-signing of the once adored blueliner to a one-year two-way contract for $700,000. I guess Honka isn’t free in price.
Although the contract is a team-friendly deal, what’s the ceiling for Honka as he makes his return and what can he offer this team?
First, let me just say, I find it extremely convenient that the Stars made a historic run to the Stanley Cup Finals and now all of a sudden Honka wants to come back to the team. Amazing what winning makes one want to do.
Thanks for considering us, Julius. We appreciate the sentiment.
I’m not bitter. Not even a little
What is the ceiling for Honka? What do we get from Honka if he is allowed to run free? Statistically speaking I don’t see him making a huge impact. At 5’11 and 185lbs, Honka isn’t exactly a towering figure, so I don’t see him making the type of impact Stephen Johns made upon his return. Think of Honka as the newer style of defenseman. Smaller but quicker with the ability to slice through the opposition’s blue line much like Miro Heiskanen.
Now before we get too excited about that last sentence, Honka is just flat out not the same type of athlete Miro is. I don’t expect him to be nor would we ask that of him. Think of him as a store brand Miro. Not as flashy. Not as reliable, but for the price you just can’t pass up trying it out. Remember, Honka has only collectively played in 87 games for the Stars at the NHL level. Merely a sample size in comparison to fellow Finnish skaters like Esa Lindell and the aforementioned Heiskanen.
All in all, I think Honka is a low-risk high reward signing. For the $700,000 you don’t risk the same type of cap space as you would for a Corey Perry type veteran. (Kiss Perry goodbye after the recent re-signing of Roope Hintz.) Honka’s ceiling is easily achievable in my eyes. Play yourself into a role on the bottom line and skate more than your season-high 42 games. With the possibility of Johns being out for extended time due to concussion side effects, another d-man with NHL experience will be a welcome sight for the price tag.
This one is easier for me to see because of his past. It’s also shorter. Simply put, if Honka doesn’t deliver and show a willingness to take a smaller role, thanks for coming out. Here is your paycheck. Solid breakup.
With his contract being a two-way deal, it’s very likely that at even the smallest sight of dipping production Honka is shipped to the AHL team affiliate Texas Stars.
Which Honka was thrilled about in his first stint with the club.
For old times sake, #FreeHonka.
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