– Anttoni Honka –
JYP (Liiga) | Right Defence | 2019 NHL Draft Eligible
Jyväskylä, Finland | October 5, 2000 | 5-foot-10, 170-pounds
Anttoni Honka is a smooth skating, offensive defenceman who lives on the transition game, using a multitude of methods to turn the play from defence to offence. He’s a relatively small defender still, and has lots of room to grow as a result, but the late 2000-born prospect will need to round out his all-around game if he hopes to challenge the top defencemen for the 2019 NHL Draft.
Honka catches the eyes of scouts with an effortless stride and an ability to weave and fly up the ice with the puck. He creates plenty of controlled zone entries each game and prefers to be in the offensive zone. His two goals and nine points in 20 games were the most of any 2019 draft eligible player in Liiga, Finland’s top professional league.
- Offensive Instincts
- Transition Game
Considered as an offensive defenceman, Honka has excellent instincts on the attack. He is an effortless skater who has decent top speed and above average agility. He controls the puck very well on the rush and is a strong passer, finding lanes through all kinds of traffic. From the point, Honka can float a wrister on net to produce rebounds and deflections, but he doesn’t own a booming slapshot by any means.
Honka has great potential within his transition game, as he is able to make impressive passes or rush the puck end-to-end. He just needs to improve his sense of when to make which play, but Honka certainly has the capability to be a point-producing, two-way defenceman at the professional level.
- Defensive Reliability
Despite his tremendous offensive potential, Honka still needs to fine-tune his defensive tendencies if he wants to go up against the top defencemen in the 2019 NHL Draft. He can often be found making risky decisions when jumping into the rush, ultimately resulting in odd-man rushes against.
Honka remains a relatively small defender by NHL standards, leaving him outmatched in board battles and rushes against larger opponents. He also struggles to box out forwards in front of his own net. Most worryingly, Honka’s decision-making with the puck in his own end is dicey at times, making a complicated play when a more simple and safe one is available.
Anttoni Honka forecasts as a potential top-four defenceman at the NHL level. While his skating and offensive talents are tantalizing, he still has a lot of development to incur. Honka needs to play a stronger defensive game with better decision-making. Heading into the ’18-19 season, Honka projects to be a Top-20 pick at the 2019 NHL Draft. If he can round out his defensive game while building on his point totals in Liiga, he may be able to push for Top-10.