Prospect Deep Dive: The Curious Case of Anttoni Honka

Jokke Nevalainen

2019-01-07

 

Prospects like Moritz Seider and Ville Heinola may seem controversial because North Americans don’t have a chance to watch them frequently, so it surprises people when Europeans rank them so highly. But Anttoni Honka is controversial even among people who scout him regularly. In fact, he may just be the most controversial player in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.

 

Anttoni is the younger brother of Julius Honka who was drafted 14th overall by the Stars in 2014. There are some definite similarities between the two brothers. They’re both undersized right-handed shot defensemen with high-end offensive abilities but issues in their decision-making and defensive game.

 

Some scouts seem to be big fans of the younger Honka, ranking him comfortably in the top ten and not budging from that stance. Others have more doubts about his game and rank him in the second round. Some are saying he’s underrated whereas others think the opposite. Pretty much everyone can recognize his upside and see the talents he has but there are definitely varying opinions on his chances to reach that upside. What makes him so controversial? Let’s dive deeper into him as a player.

 

The first thing everyone should know about Anttoni is that he’s an amazing skater. As an undersized defenseman (he’s 5-foot-10), you need to be a good skater. But he’s not just good, he’s great. And I’m not just talking about his speed either. He has great acceleration, amazing ability to change pace, and unbelievable agility as he can twist and turn like most people can’t. That skating ability allows him to join the rush, and that’s something he loves to do. He will also happily lead a rush if needed.

 

Honka also has high-end puck-skills. He can make tape-to-tape breakout passes. He can make plays at high speed. He can slow down the game and create space with his puck-handling. He can make opposing players look foolish with his trick