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The younger brother of Dallas Stars defenseman Julius Honka, Anttoni Honka is already playing against men for JYP in the SM Liiga. He put up one goal and three assists for four points in 16 games. He also went out on loan to Jukurit, where he had two goals and two assists in 11 games. Honka was also loaned to KeuPa HT, a team in the Finnish Mestis, the second division of Finnish hockey. He put up two goals and five assists for seven points in 11 games. KeuPa went all the way to the league final, and Honka was a big part in that with three goals and 11 points in 17 playoff games. In the U20 league, Honka showed dominance with nine points in six games. While the season involved Honka bouncing around quite a bit, he showed his talent on each team he played for.
He was part of Finland’s gold-medal winning team at the 2019 World Junior Championships but didn’t put up any points in six games. Last year, he had a very successful IIHF U-18 World Championship where he put up five points in seven games and also helped Finland to a gold medal.
Anttoni Honka Scouting Report
Defence — shoots Right
Born October 5th, 2000 — Jyvaskyla, Finland
Height 5’10” — Weight 176 lbs [179 cm / 80 kg]
Honka makes up for his lack of size with his strong skating ability. His speed and acceleration going forwards are excellent. While his backwards skating is very good, it is not quite at the level as his forward movement. Honka also has very good footwork. His agility, edgework, and pivots allow him to transition quickly from offence to defence and vice-versa. He can walk the line in the offensive zone, creating passing and shooting lanes. Honka can improve his lower body strength though. This would make him stronger on the puck and improve his ability to win battles along the boards and in front of the net. This could come with better muscle mass in the coming years.
Honka also has good stickhandling ability and can carry the puck out of danger as well as creating offence in the neutral and offensive zones. When leading the rush, he generates effective zone entries by avoiding defenders and making smart moves. Honka also shows very good passing skills. He can start the transition game by head-manning the puck. He is also able to make the long breakaway pass. Honka can also quarterback the play from the point on the power-play. He is a creative playmaker who can find a teammate’s stick through tight passing lanes. His ability to make quick lateral moves as well as to change angles with his stickhandling also creates passing lanes.
Honka is much more of a playmaker than a shooter. He is good at using his lateral agility to create shooting lanes. However, he lacks power on his slap shot. This could also be something that improves as he adds muscle mass. He can sneak down from the point and let off a quick wrist shot with a good release. Honka hs some issues with bad decisions with the puck though. He must learn to pick his spots and not be as risky. He can sometimes make giveaways in bad situations.
Honka does a decent enough job in the defensive end of the ice but most continue to improve moving forward. He needs to work on his positioning without the puck. Honka can sometimes watch the puck a bit too much and stops moving his feet. He needs to read the play better in the defensive zone. He also lacks a physical presence and needs to be better on the boards and clearing the front of the net. It is important to note that he is a teenager playing against men though, so this may improve as he matures and adds strength. Honka’s skating and quick feet are assets in his own end. He also has a quick stick which allows him to poke check the puck away from an opponent as well as intercept passes. When a turnover is created, he transitions quickly to offence.
Projection and Comparison
Anttoni Honka will need time to develop. His offensive game projects well and he could become a second pairing defenceman with a significant power play role in the NHL if he develops to his potential. He needs to work on his defensive game. While he will likely never be a shutdown defender, he could improve enough to be adequate in the NHL. In terms of style, Honka’s game is reminiscent of Tomas Kaberle. This is a style comparison only and not one based on talent or ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Anttoni Honka that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
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