Julius Honka is going to remain a member of the Texas Stars for the 2014-15 season.
There has been some controversy around Honka’s status as a CHL or European product when he was drafted. However, Dallas Stars general manager Jim Nill said today, “it’s pretty cut and dry now,” that Honka will remain in the AHL this season.
“I understand Swift Current’s position, he’s a great player and it’s awful to lose a player of that caliber,” Nill said in a phone interview. “But once it became clear that he was on a one-year loan from Finland, it was cut and dry and became a moot point.”
Honka was drafted in the first round by Dallas after he played for Swift Current during the 2013-14 season. Conventional wisdom suggested the 18-year-old would have to return to Swift Current once he was cut from Dallas training camp, in accordance with the agreement between the CHL and NHL.
However, the IIHF and NHL ruled that Honka wasn’t drafted out of the CHL. Instead, he was loaned to the WHL club by his Finnish team, JYP.
With that ruling, which Nill said was made roughly two weeks ago, Honka had two options: play in Europe or go down to the AHL.
“We had to find a place to play him, and he showed through Traverse City (prospects camp) and then more so in training camp, that he’s ready to play with men,” Nill said. “We were open to go in either direction, but the players make the decisions for you sometimes with their play.”
Honka’s assignment to Texas adds another talented young defenseman to the defending Calder Cup Champions. Right now, Texas’ opening night lineup will included John Klingberg, Jyrki Jokipakka, and Honka — three players Nill said could be in the NHL in the not-to-distant future.
“We’re excited,” Nill said. “We’ve got a great stable of young defensemen. We think we have the makings of five or six young defensemen that will play in the NHL. It’s important for the development and a testament to the skill of our scouting staff.”