The Carolina Hurricanes have inked prospect Anttoni Honka to a three-year, entry-level contract. The young defenseman was selected in the third round of the 2019 draft and has spent the last several seasons playing at the highest level in Finland.
General manager Don Waddell released a short statement:
Anttoni is a puck-moving, right-shot defenseman. He has produced at a high level in Finland and we believe he will continue to grow in North America.
The statement suggests that Honka will be coming over to play for the Chicago Wolves this season after racking up an impressive 37 points in 57 games during the 2021-22 campaign.
While still not ready for NHL action, Honka – who is the younger brother of former Dallas Stars prospect Julius Honka – has electrifying offensive ability and could quickly grow into an important role for the AHL squad.
There are also some opportunities coming on the Carolina blueline, where Brady Skjei, Brett Pesce, and Jalen Chatfield are all scheduled for unrestricted free agency following the 2023-24 season. Jake Gardiner, who has deemed himself healthy to resume his career, is only signed through this year, while Jaccob Slavin and Brent Burns only have three years left on their respective deals.
For young defensemen like Honka, a little patience and practice in the minor leagues may quickly lead to a chance in the NHL, should their development continue.