The final unsigned restricted free agent has found a home, at least for now. Julius Honka has signed a contract with JYP in Finland, though the deal includes an NHL out clause that could bring him back to North America if there is a team that wants to take a chance. The Dallas Stars have been looking for a trade partner all summer to unload Honka, but haven’t been able to find the right return. Because they issued him a qualifying offer however, the Stars continue to retain his rights.
Honka, 23, needs to get playing again if he’s to prove that he can still be a puck-moving force on the blueline, and returning to Finland was one of his only options at this point. Unable to find a fit with the Stars over the last several years, the 14th overall pick from 2014 has just 87 games played at the NHL level. That includes sitting out a huge number of matches last season even while healthy, stunting his development and career.
There have been reports that the Stars are looking for a second- or third-round pick for the young defenseman, though it’s not clear at this point what discussions have taken place. An offensive juggernaut in the minor leagues, Honka has only recorded 13 points in the NHL and there is no guarantee that he can handle a full-time roster spot at this point. Still, his potential must be intriguing to some teams around the league.