Drafted by Carolina Hurricanes in 2019 #83
- 2019-08-03 at Finland - Sweden, World Junior Summer Showcase by Lassi Alanen
After a few mediocre games, Honka has been very impressive in the latter half of the World Junior Summer Showcase. He recorded a goal and two assists in Finland’s last game of the tournament against Sweden. He was playing on a pairing with Ville Heinola at even-strength and also on the power play.
When Honka is at his best, he plays with swag and lots of confidence and that has been the case in the last couple of games. He has excellent hands for a defenceman, which help him in beating forecheckers and deceiving his intentions on the breakout. Honka has the patience to wait for passing lanes to open up and he rarely gives up puck possession without trying to make a play.
What also helps Honka to succeed in transitions are his feet. He has deceptive edgework and good ability to turn quickly. Honka’s acceleration could be better, but I think his top speed is easily at least good enough to make his playstyle work at higher levels. He can jump on the rush and support his forwards effectively at even-strength. Honka also runs a power play well. While he did hammer home a one-timer goal in this game, he mostly succeeds by making passing plays. Honka was and still is among the most creative defenders in his draft class.
Honka’s defensive game has still a long ways to go. He probably won’t ever become a good defensive defenceman but he really doesn’t have to. When utilized properly and given the proper amount of freedom with the puck (and when at his best), Honka’s positives could easily outweigh his negatives. Last season, that wasn’t the case on many occasions, though, so he needs to be more consistent this year. At the very least, he should play an important role at the upcoming World Juniors.
- 2019-04-04 at KeuPa HT - Leki, Mestis by Lassi Alanen
Honka has had a very up-and-down season. He has bounced between Liiga, Mestis, and the U20 league. He was on the gold-winning World Juniors team but was not playing in a big role and got a lot of criticism for his defensive game. From what I have seen, he has looked better in the second half of the season and was playing big minutes in the second semi-final game between KeuPa HT and LeKi.
Honka is clearly a very talented defenceman. The problem for a big part of the season has been the lack of progression. In this game, I thought Honka looked rather solid defensively. His positioning was sound and he did not get dominated physically. Honka’s zone exits were on point. He is able to make good stretch passes, but also has deceptive hands, which he can use to beat forecheckers. Honka was constantly used on the power play, and although he is not much of a shooting threat, he uses good movement and passing to be an effective quarterback on the man advantage. Honka’s mobility and east-to-west skating have always been excellent.
Honka’s draft stock has been on a constant decline for a reason, but he still has a lot of upside if he is able to put it all together. I would be comfortable taking him early in the second round.
- 2019-02-22 at HIFK - Jukurit, Liiga by Asko Huuki
Honka is loaned to Jukurit at the moment where he has recorded minutes he needs in order to develop properly. He played for around 20 minutes against HIFK and he also played in power play and he was also on ice when his team tried to tie the game at the end of third period.
Honka has struggled this season, but the loan has clearly been the right decision for him. He occasionally still gives weird passes and holds the puck for too long, but he clearly tried to play more simple game and to me, this is promising. Honka has above average hands, but that has sometimes resulted him trying to be flashy instead of productive. Improving his decision-making at the pro level is crucial, but this seems to be improving.
Honka’s defensive game still needs a lot of refining. He needs to add some muscle as he is often overpowered and also his positioning is too often off. However I think he could improve his defensive game a lot thanks to his excellent skating and by gaining more experience.
- 2018-12-29 at Slovakia - Finland, WJC by Miika Arponen
Honka was in the lineup as the 7th defenceman in his second game in the tournament. He was mainly paired with Henri Jokiharju when he got on ice.
The 18-year-old is quite a riddle to solve when it comes to evaluating his talent. His skating is high-end if not elite, his hands are very smooth and he can casually deke a few opponents before finding an open lane to the opposite side of the rink with a crisp pass. On the other hand there is a constant threat of him losing the puck in a dangerous spot or giving a hazardous pass straight to an opponent.
Due to his smallish stature, Honka’s defence relies mainly on his skating and him being able to read the game well. He isn’t weak by any means, but he can be in problems with bigger opponents in a static battle.
Honka’s upside is sky-high as a very poised offensive defenceman with the ability to create scoring chances from nothing. The downside is that there are a lot of question marks whether he can reach that upside.
- 2018-10-16 at JYP - HC Lugano, CHL by Lassi Alanen
Honka played with Mikko Kuukka on JYP’s second defensive pairing and was the only defenceman on the second power play unit. Honka played almost 17 minutes and recorded two shots on goal. He showcased his great puck-moving ability and created quite a few clean zone exits and entries. For the most part, Honka makes good decisions with the puck and has clearly above-average hands for a defenceman. He is very mobile and good, although not high-end, skater overall, but he could be even better by improving his first few steps.
As in every game I have seen from Honka this season, he struggled a bit in his own end. He made a couple of positional mistakes and got physically overpowered a few times, but also made a pair of nice interceptions. I wonder how Honka will look defensively after he adds more muscle.
- 2018-09-19 at JYP - Jukurit, Liiga by Lassi Alanen
Honka played almost 20 minutes in JYP’s 1-4 defeat against Jukurit. In the third period, his shot from the point hit the post and his teammate scored on the rebound with his skate. The goal was reviewed and waved off due to kicking motion.
Honka’s skill set was on full display in this game. He was great at transitions, making good passes and transporting the puck effectively. Honka is very mobile, which allows him to evade forecheckers with ease. He does not possess high-end top speed, but is overall a very good skater. Honka is very good at handling the puck. He processes the play constantly and has his head up at all times, even while handling the puck at high speeds. Honka can also quarterback a power play with clean passes. He needs to work on his shot, but it is already pretty accurate and will get more powerful with more added strength.
Honka’s problems are in his defensive game. He is quite good at controlling the gap with his stick, but at long defending sequences he often positioned himself poorly or missed his assignment. He is a very smart player in every other regard and has already improved defensively from last season, so I’m not exactly sure how concerned I should be with his mistakes. Honka is also rather small and can be pushed off the puck.
Overall, I really like what Honka brings to the table. In the modern game defencemen need to be able to create zone exits and make plays with the puck, and that is exactly where this young Finn shines. He will very likely be a first-round pick in the 2019 draft.
- 2018-04-22 at Finland - Russia, U18 World Championship by Asko Huuki
Honka got an assist against Russia. He saw a lot of ice time during the game and he played in the Finland’s first power play unit.
Honka’s offensive talent is undeniable. His puck skills are really good and he looks extremely confident while carrying the puck. He showed really good vision noticing the situation when to keep the puck himself and when to give quick and precise passes. However his defensive game is still work in progress and he heavily suffers for being really lightweight at the moment. He also could improve the accuracy of his shot since his shots were mostly blocked in this game.
On the offensive zone Honka showed a good vision. He was very active in the offensive zone and he often found open space where he was able to receive passes. He did really good job at pinching too. Honka is also magnificent skater and when this asset is added to his offensive talent, his development is definitely worthy of watching.
- 2017-09-30 at HIFK - JYP, U20 by Marco Bombino
Honka recorded two power play assists in the third period as JYP U20 eventually edged HIFK 5-4 in overtime. The right-handed defenseman was used in critical situations throughout the game. He played with noticeable confidence and composure with the puck. He has great puck skills and can move the puck with precise, crisp passes in all three zones. Honka is also a highly agile defenseman with great lateral mobility and footwork.
He constantly liked to join the attack, as if a fourth forward at times. Thereby, certain times he must assess better the risks of leaving his defensive position. His defensive game is a work in progress, but offensively the 16-year-old blueliner already possesses game-breaking skills at this level.
- 2017-09-17 at JYP - Blues, U20 by Asko Huuki
Honka is the kind of player who immediately grabs your attention. He is offensively exceptionally talented for this level. His passing is excellent and he is extremely good and secure while holding the puck. However he holds on to the puck for too long occasionally and while he is more than skilled enough to carry the puck, it is not always the best option. Also on the defensive zone he could improve his positioning and because he is bit small and light for defenceman, he loses some of one-on-ones. His shot is something that he could improve too.
However Honka is gifted skater who is both agile and already relatively quick. Honka needs to simplify his game when he moves to the pro level but both his skating and offensive skills are undeniable. These skills should make the transition easier as long as defenceman gets offensive responsibility.
Player statistics powered by www.eliteprospects.com
|2015-2016||JYP U16||Jr. C SM-sarja Q||5||2||2||4||4||||
|JYP U16||Jr. C SM-sarja||10||5||9||14||20||||
|JYP U18||Jr. B SM-sarja||31||3||6||9||4|||||Playoffs||5||0||0||0||0|
|Finland U16 (all)||International-Jr||2||0||1||1||0||||
|2016-2017||JYP U18||Jr. B SM-sarja||7||0||4||4||2||||
|JYP U20||Jr. A SM-liiga||26||2||7||9||6|||||Playoffs||3||0||1||1||0|
|Finland U17 (all)||International-Jr||14||0||0||0||0||||
|2017-2018||JYP U20||Jr. A SM-liiga||28||4||13||17||22|||||Playoffs||2||0||1||1||0|
|Finland U18||Hlinka Gretzky Cup||4||0||1||1||0||||
|Finland U18 (all)||International-Jr||23||1||13||14||14||||
|JYP U20||Jr. A SM-liiga||6||2||7||9||2||||
|Finland U20 (all)||International-Jr||22||2||7||9||12||||
|Finland U20 (all)||International-Jr||17||4||5||9||4||||
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