It was a tremendous day for the Swift Current Broncos and bigger than that a huge day for Broncos defenceman Julius Honka. The Dallas Stars continued their connection with Swift Current by drafting the dynamic defenceman in the first round of the NHL Draft 14th overall. That’s the second highest draft position in Broncos history behind only Tyler Wright. Even Joe Sakic didn’t go that high as he went to Quebec 15th overall. He was also drafted a spot higher than Erik Karlsson in 2008… the player he was most often compared to.
This draft continues a fruitful relationship between the Broncos and the Stars. Dallas currently employs three former Broncos captains in their organization. Cody Eakin has been a big part of the NHL team, while Justin Dowling and Taylor Vause helped guide the AHL Texas Stars to a Calder Cup. The Stars also employed former Broncos defenceman Aaron Rome until they recently bought him out.
It’s not entirely surprising that there would be a connection between the two teams after Broncos Coach/GM Mark Lamb had a long stint as an assistant coach with the NHL club. That connection must be a part of what has created a bit of a pipeline from Swift Current to Dallas. Stars GM Jim Nill even said Lamb helped Dallas get to know Honka better.
Obviously Broncos fans know what the Stars are getting in Honka. So far most of the talk has been about his offensive skills and how fun people in the media think his name is. Honka is more than a one-dimensional offensively skilled defenceman. He absolutely will have to be to make it with the Stars in the kind of organization Nill and Coach Lindy Ruff are building.
It was great to see lots of coverage for Honka today like…
- an interview on the Stars website
- getting to know Honka
- an article on the Stars website
- an interview with Jim Nill about Honka
- an SB Nation article
- a Dallas Morning News article
- a draft story from Swift Current Online
- reaction from the Broncos official website
In all it was a very big day for the WHL with nine players from this league being picked in the first round of the NHL draft. All of them came from what should be a very competitive eastern conference next season.
Now that the first round is in the books we wait to see where the rest of the draft eligible Broncos will go and how soon. If history is any indication Brycen Martin will end up going to New Jersey with the 11th pick of the second round or Dallas with the 15th. Realistically he could end up anywhere and any team would be lucky to get him in the second round. How far will the fast rising Brett Lernout end up getting picked? They are probably next in line while we also wait to see if it happens for Gordon again, Cave, Bow or anyone else.
For now we celebrate Honka as the first Broncos player taken in the first round since 2000. He took a risk in leaving his home behind to come all the way to a small town in the heart of the prairies. It paid off as Honka became a fan favourite, made the World Junior team for Finland that won a gold medal and took the WHL by storm. Now he’s another step towards the NHL. It’s got to be an awesome moment for him and his whole family. The hard work has paid off. Take a few moments to celebrate a tremendous achievement because it’ll only get harder from here.