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Dallas Stars Daily Links: Will Julius Honka’s Long Wait Pay Off?

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The rookie manages his own expectations as the Stars try to manage him. Plus, the state of the standings, and the Expansion Draft Regret Rankings.

NHL: Colorado Avalanche at Dallas Stars Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Last night’s ill-timed 3-0 loss to the Los Angeles Kings offered at least one positive for Dallas Stars fans: Julius Honka returned to the lineup with 16:11 TOI and three shots on goal.

The player who’s spawned his own social-media movement remains something of an enigma to his own team as they try to find his highest and best use, writes The Dallas Morning News’ Mike Heika. (As an aside, should we read anything into last night’s significant increase in ice time?)

The Stars are trying to find the right use for Julius Honka this season, and that’s been a moving target. Honka returned to the lineup Tuesday after four healthy scratches. He has played 25 games and has three points (one goal, two assists). He’s averaging 13 minutes, 49 seconds in time on ice, and the coaches clearly are protecting him when he is in the lineup.

”It’s a process to learn how to play defense in the NHL,” said Stars general manager Jim Nill. “It takes time.”

...

“I don’t think at any time we put a guy in if we don’t think he can help us win,” [head coach Ken] Hitchcock said. “I don’t think you can bring a guy in and say, ‘Let’s have this guy gain some experience.’ That’s what the American Hockey League is for. We’re in the winning business. If Honks looks like he can help us win, we’ll play him.”

Of course, at the ripe old age of 22, Honka is already a seasoned AHL veteran with nearly four years in the Stars organization under his belt, including three in Cedar Park as an everyday player. And after the departures this season of fellow high draft picks Jamie Oleksiak and Patrik Nemeth – defensemen whose own development often came under question by frustrated fans – the talented Finn is balancing his own expectations on a daily basis:

“It is hard. Let’s be honest, it’s hard,” Honka said of remaining patient. “But at the same time, it’s always fun to come to the rink and do anything. So I just want to enjoy what I’m doing and try not to think about too many things and then just play my game.”

...

“I know exactly how they want me to play and what they want me to do, so I just have to go out there and do it. ... It’s just be smart, be calm, play hockey. You just have to go out and do it.”

Mike has more. [SportsDayDFW]

Here’s Hitch discussing the method behind his management of Honka.


More Stars

Elsewhere in Heika: Here’s the postgame roundup from last night’s game in the AAC, featuring Tyler Seguin, Darcy Kuemper and more.

From Heika’s weekly chat: Mike tackles the burning question of why backup goalies have become the Stars’ kryptonite.

Stars fans have determined the final duel in the Defining Moments bracket: Are you in for #BennArtRoss or #99Cup?

Dan Hamhuis reached a major milestone with his 1,000th NHL start last night.

The Hangar has a special puck to commemorate it.

The Stars, of course, are also part of this NHL tribute to Jaromir Jagr, now playing for HC Kladno.

Around the League(s)

Last Night In #Death

Never give a Central Division team an opening:

Here’s what the division standings look like after last night.

Matt Murray led the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 5-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks in his first start since his father’s untimely death on January 16.

And the Vegas Golden Knights made history with last night’s 4-2 victory over the Calgary Flames: They’re now tied at 33 with the Anaheim Ducks and Florida Panthers for most wins by an NHL team in its inaugural season.

So which team lost the biggest to Vegas during the NHL Expansion Draft? Find out where the Stars land in Down Goes Brown’s Regret Rankings.

The Carolina Hurricanes’ new owner, Tom Dundon, wants to fill PNC Arena’s lower bowl for every home game – and he’ll let fans upgrade their seats for free to do it. [The News & Observer]

Greg Wyshynski has a story on how the Texas billionaire wants to embrace the team’s Hartford Whalers history. On the table: playing games in the classic jersey, and perhaps even a home match in Connecticut. [ESPN]

Meanwhile, the New York Islanders will return to Nassau Coliseum for 12 games in 2018-19, which sounds like it may be the hockey version of going on a few dates with your ex to see if there’s still something there.

The NCAA has produced some of this season’s biggest rookie stars, including the 2018 All-Star MVPs from the NHL, AHL and ECHL.

Meanwhile, Kailer Yamamoto tops Ryan Kennedy’s list of prospects to watch. [The Hockey News]

Also at THN: The latest podcast takes on the NHL trade deadline, the incessant goalie interference question and more. [THN]

Greetings From Scenic Cedar Park

AHL president Dave Andrews’ All-Star Weekend press conference included some realignment news: The Texas Stars and San Antonio Rampage will leave the Pacific Division for (probably) the Central in May. [100 Degree Hockey]

Saturday’s victory over the Stockton Heat was also Harry Potter Night in H-E-B Center, and some lucky fans got photos with some very impressive owl companions.

Finally

Ben Bishop may have taken last night’s loss, but these fans still have faith. Enjoy.