Stars prospects Julius Honka and Aleksi Makela represented their home country of Finland at the 2015 WJC. Despite their efforts, rival country Sweden eliminated Finland 6-3 in the Quarterfinals on Friday, January 2nd. Finland had entered the tournament as the 2014 defending WJC champions. Unfortunately for their fans the team just wasn’t as deep this year. Finland finished 1-3-1.
- In 5 games with Finland, Honka had 1 goal, 1 assist, -2 rating, 6 pim and 19 shots on goal. He scored the only game winning goal Finland had at this year’s tournament.
- Makela had 1 assist in the 5 games and was a +3 with 4 pim and 8 shots on goal.
THW asked TSN Scout and NHLNET Analyst Craig Button for his assessment of the two Stars prospects performance at the WJC. Here is what Craig shared:
- Honka “Was very good. Catalyst+”
- Makela “Needs time and work. Played okay at tournament but some erratic play”
Looking Back at Honka’s Draft Day
Honka was the Stars 1st round pick (14th overall) in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.
Honka just turned 19 last month and projects to be a top pair offensive defenseman. He is a little undersized at 5’11 and 175 lbs, but makes up for that with his exceptional hockey sense. Last season Honka played for the Swift Current Broncos in the Western Hockey League. As a WHL rookie Honka played in 62 regular season games scoring 16 goals and 40 assists for 56 points. In the WHL playoffs Honka had 2 goals in 6 games.
Honka’s Rookie Season with the Texas Stars (AHL)
Going into this season Stars GM Jim Nill had to decide whether to assign Honka to the Texas Stars or a professional league in Finland. Both Nill and Honka agreed a move to the Texas Stars would be best for his development. Honka has played 28 games in the AHL and produced 2 goals and 7 assists for 9 points. He also has 22 pim and a -6 rating.
Notes on Makela and Slovakian Longshot Prospect Paulovic
Aleksi Makela will return to Ilves Tampere in the Finish Elite League to continue his development. This is Makela’s 3rd season with Ilves Tampere. So far this season he has 0 goals and 5 assists in 18 games to go along with 18 pim and a -1 rating. Aleksi Makela is less polished than Honka and turns 20 years old next month. Makela, 6’1, 189 lbs, is a lefthanded shooting defenseman. He was the Stars 7th round pick in 2013.
The Stars also own the rights to Slovakian forward Matej Paulovic. Paulovic, 6’3, 197 lbs, is a right-handed shooting forward. However, he is also a bit of an enigma. Since being drafted in the 5th round in 2013 Paulovic left the Peterborough Petes of the Ontario Hockey League to play in the United States Hockey League. Paulovic is turning 20 years old next week and in 6 WJC games with Slovakia he has 1 assist and a -1 rating. Despite the rather pedestrian WJC numbers, Paulovic has made an impression with some hockey people.
Matej Paulovic (Dallas) has played strong for Slovakia tonight. Big dude with nice hands
— Ryan Kennedy (@THNRyanKennedy) January 5, 2015
This season Paulovic is playing for the Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL). In 25 games with Muskegon he has 9 goals and 18 assists for 27 points. He also has 50 pim and is a +12 rating.