|(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)|
The expectations are always sky high on a first-round draft pick.Read the rest at TheAHL.com.
Only the best of the best make it to the National Hockey League as 18-year-olds. For the rest, it takes a few more years in juniors, college or Europe to put the finishing touches on their game before transitioning to the American Hockey League. Most rookies in the AHL coming out of juniors have already turned 20 years old.
But not Texas Stars defenseman Julius Honka.
A unique set of circumstances placed the Dallas Stars’ 2014 first-round pick with the AHL’s Texas Stars at the tender age of 18. After drafting Honka and deciding not to place him on the NHL roster, Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill had a choice to make: AHL or Europe.
“He said right from day one, ‘I want to go play in the American League. I want to be a pro hockey player and learn what it takes,’” said Nill.
Honka expanded, “I think the biggest thing for the AHL is that it's the closest league to the NHL. It's good to play here to get ready for the NHL, and that's the biggest reason why I wanted to come here.”
And so at 18 years, 10 months, and 8 days, Honka became the youngest player ever to play for Texas and the second youngest on an AHL opening night roster this season.
“The biggest step any player makes in their career is to go from juniors, college or Europe to the American League,” said Nill. “After that, the American League to the NHL is not as big a step as the one he is taking right now.”