If you've been following SBN Hockey's network-wide mock draft, you know that the Caps are on the clock... which means we're on the clock for them.
Last year, we selected J.T. Compher with the 23rd pick (in reality, he went to Buffalo with the 35th pick; Caps' pick Andre Burakovsky had already gone to San Jose with the 20th pick).
Two years ago, we had two picks, at 11th and 16th overall. With that 11th pick, we selected Zemgus Girgensons (Caps pick Filip Forsberg went second overall; Girgensons was selected 14th in the actual draft by Buffalo), and with the 16th pick we took Pontus Åberg, in part for that cool thing over the "A" in his name (Caps pick Tom Wilson went to New Jersey with the penultimate pick of the first round; Åberg slipped to 37th in reality, where Nashville snatched him up).
Three years ago, drafting in the 26th slot, we selected Scott Mayfield (he ended up going to the Islanders with the 34th pick in the actual draft, and the Caps, of course, traded the 26th pick to Chicago in exchange for Troy Brouwer; the Blackhawks drafted Phillip Danault with the pick).
Four years ago, also drafting 26th overall, we took Brock Nelson (he ended up going to the Isles at 30th in the real draft; Caps pick Evgeny Kuznetsov was off the board already).
Here's his draft profile:
McKeen's (go buy their guide - it's great) ranks Honka as the top offensive defenseman in the draft and notes:
When you come across a defensive prospect with speed, agility, heady passing and a lethal shot, you have a potential NHL power play quarterback. "He’s an elite offensive defenceman," noted one scout who has Julius Honka ranked in his top 20. "He controls play with his elusiveness, mobility and puck skills." Honka made a seamless adjustment to the North American game, leading all rookie WHL defencemen is scoring this season.
They go on to profile him a bit more in-depth:
A stand out performance at the 2012-13 World U18 Championships helped Finland capture a bronze medal and followed that up with a gold medal performance at this year’s WJC .. delivered an immediate impact for the Broncos establishing himself from the beginning of the season as their most skilled blue liner .. smooth, talented skater with effortless and elegant figure-skater quality blade work .. light on his feet and stable, reaches top speed within two strides – skating is very natural and effortless .. can be a casual puck carrier but will suddenly pick up the pace once he realizes he can generate a scoring opportunity .. makes plays all in one swooping motion without breaking stride .. first passes can be too cute at times .. accurate shooter with a lethal one timer .. lacks the body strength to make much of an impact when he initiates contact; more of a finesse defender who relies on his skills and game-reading .. Honka needs to adopt a safer style of play .. a weakness exposed at the Top Prospects game with a handful of careless give aways .. named to the WHL 2nd All star team owns the athleticism and skill to thrive .. playing with controlled intensity would round out his game.
Speaking of in-depth, ISS breaks Honka down (click to enlarge, and, again, go buy their guide - it's unreal):
ESPN's Corey Pronman has this to say about the young Finn:
Honka hit the ground running in his first season in North America, looking substantially better as a prospect than when he played in Europe. The factor that's really elevated his play has been his improvement defensively, which has allowed him to be leaned on more in tough minutes (and will be pivotal to his having a big role in the NHL). His physical game remains a major liability, as he's small (5-11, 174 pounds), not that strong, and not an intimidating guy when contact is initiated. Overall, he can play a risky style of game, but most of the time he doesn't get caught and knows how to make the most of his offensive gifts without giving up too much on the back end.
Much more on Honka:
So that's our pick, an offensive-minded defenseman who might be a bit of a reach - in reality, we might have played it safer here and gone with Haydn Fleury (a popular pick for the Caps), but it's a mock draft so let's swing for the fences. As D'ohboy said in our hypothetical GM interview post:
The old saying was, "you can't teach size." I prefer, "you can't teach speed and smarts." The guys who stand out in the NHL - Crosby, Doughty, Toews, Kane, Datsyuk - can all skate and think the game.
This is where the game is, and it's not going to change any time soon - if you don't have puck-movers on the back-end, it's hard to win games.
Welcome to the organization, Julius Honka.