The news first appeared in GM Jim Nill’s postseason press conference: The Dallas Stars and Julius Honka are making their way back to a possible space where they can discuss maybe, maybe coming to a new agreement. Possibly.
Does Big D have its own Jesse Puljujarvi-style redemption arc in the works? Can the Stars really use another right-handed, puck-moving defender? Can their fandom endure another round of the Honka Wars? These are questions that demand answers, because why not, it’s 2020.
Sean Shapiro examines the case for (and against) Honka in a new article for The Athletic. In it, he seems to confirm that the Stars organization in general didn’t care for the way the 2015 first-rounder carried himself during his first stint in North America:
Stars director of European scouting Kari Takko told me earlier this week that Honka’s return to Finland proved both humbling and frustrating. Honka started the 2019-20 season off rather well, but his season hit a slow decline throughout the year in terms of point production.
Takko said being humbled could be a good thing for Honka, who has always played with confidence but needed to find the fine line between confidence and cockiness. That personality often rubbed coaches the wrong way. And when Honka failed to really become a fill-in option during a John Klingberg injury during the 2018-19 season, then-Stars coach Jim Montgomery effectively discarded him as a lineup option and set the stage for his return to Finland.
In addition, Shapiro jumped into “a Honka wormhole,” watching all 100 shots the defender took with JYP last season, to find out what he looks like now. He found a player who can still dance opponents and move up ice with possession, but who may also still take too many risks for an NHL coach – and who could have more of an impact with the Texas Stars, if the AHL season ever gets rescheduled:
For starters — and this is important to clarify — it’s much easier for Honka to succeed in Finland on the larger ice. There’s more time for him to be shifty with the puck and escape situations in which NHL forecheckers, in a smaller space, would likely connect on a hit in a more physical league.
To his credit, Honka is still fun to watch with the puck on his stick. He still has the flair; there is the big stick action like he’s waving a magic wand around the puck, and there were many smart, creative plays in space. The fact he only scored four goals and dished out 11 assists is both a detriment to his teammates as well as a detriment to Honka’s finishing ability.
There’s more behind the paywall. [The Athletic DFW]
Speaking of Stars defenders with new contracts and no image rights...Mark Pysyk.
We're probably biased, but the new guy sure looks good in Victory Green pic.twitter.com/uJkirbAfMV— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) October 13, 2020
One last message from Mattias Janmark, and one last look at that epic cowboy outfit.
Around The Leagues
The Boston Bruins’ offseason isn’t going all that well, as David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand undergo surgeries that will probably delay the start of the season for both of them.
Patrick Marleau has returned to the San Jose Sharks, and he’d love it if his old pal Joe Thornton did, too.
"Obviously if Joe came back ... that would be a comforting thing for myself and I'm sure for a lot of other guys," forward and longtime teammate Patrick Marleau said of free agent center Joe Thornton after rejoining the Sharks.https://t.co/xC4JY6C4MJ— NHL.com (@NHLdotcom) October 14, 2020
This is presuming, of course, that the Toronto Maple Leafs don’t make a diving catch for Jumbo. Or, for that matter, that the Stars aren’t interested in making a deal.
Random Wednesday thought: Thornton to Dallas would make sense. History with Pavelski combined with Stars needing center cover with Seguin injury, Stars also one of teams he would have waived no-trade to in season. If he's really interested in bargain deal Stars could make it work— Sean Shapiro (@seanshapiro) October 15, 2020
Can the Ottawa Senators safely seat up to 6,000 fans during a pandemic? Is Eugene Melnyk for real? Why don’t you find out for yourself?
Interesting: Eugene Melnyk says the Senators have modelled a safe-seating plan for 6,000 — and hopes there will be fans in February https://t.co/ykY5SwB1fk— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) October 14, 2020
Hockey Barbie is something I never knew I needed, but which I now want more than almost anything.
“Girls breaking barriers and wanting to be respected and recognized isn’t a phase - it’s a reality that I want to help grow.”@hockeybarbieUSA made a petition to ask @Mattel to make a US version of their Hockey Barbie.— The Ice Garden (@TheIceGarden) October 14, 2020
Anton Khudobin is the wholesome content you’re looking for. Enjoy.