He's not the biggest, strongest or most physical defenseman in this year's draft class, but few can do what Julius Honka does with the puck on his stick.
And no, he's not one of the "pure offense" types of defensemen, either. In his first year competing in North America, the 18-year-old native of Jyväskylä, Finland, stepped right into the Swift Current Broncos' lineup and made an immediate impact.
Good first pass? Check. Accurate shot from the point? Check. Honka can lead the rush or join the rush and there's a lot to like about his game.
Jarmo Kekalainen is pretty clear in saying that he will select the best player available at No. 16 overall.
The Blue Jackets have some organizational needs that they'd like to address, for sure, but Kekalainen firmly believes in drafting the best player on the board when Columbus' number is called. Whether it's a forward or defenseman doesn't necessarily matter in the first round, he says, because teams can use the later rounds to fill positions of need.
NHL.com's Mike Morreale - their resident draft expert - took a closer look at what teams in the Metropolitan Division may be looking at as the 2014 NHL Draft approaches. Here's a snippet of what he expects the Blue Jackets to do:
By now, you've probably seen our prospect profiles, the "my draft story" features with several Blue Jackets players recalling their memories of being drafted, as well as conversations with GM Jarmo Kekalainen and his staff about strategy and draft-day decision making.
We've covered a lot already, but we're only getting started.
This blog will be constantly updated throughout the week with videos, quick-hit news items and interviews with players selected by the Blue Jackets at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. If it's happening at the draft, you'll find it here.
Bookmarking this page is a good idea. Let's get this going!
Good evening, everyone (or good morning if you're in Sochi). Team USA begins its 2014 Olympic tournament in just a few hours against Slovakia, and the anticipation has been building over the past few days.
Just yesterday, U.S. head coach Dan Bylsma named Jonathan Quick the team's starting goaltender for Game 1 but would not go into any detail about the Game 2 starter. Many believe Ryan Miller to be the guy who gets the call against Russia on Saturday, but it's hardly a foregone conclusion and a lot will likely depend on how Quick performs against the Slovaks.
One item just released by USA Hockey: Team USA's lines and defense pairs for today's game against Slovakia. Here they are...
We kind of figured this was going to happen, right?
After all, once the Olympic tournament begins, it's a two-week sprint to the podium with little room to recover from mistakes or poor decisions. The practice and preparation time is critical for teams and the United States is no different; they have some decisions to make with their defense but, as Dan Bylsma pointed out today, he's made a decision on his starting goaltender for Thursday's opener against Slovakia.
The bad news for everyone else is that Bylsma wouldn't reveal the identity of that goaltender during today's media session. Greg Wyshynski from Puck Daddy has a suspicion that Team USA will start with Ryan Miller, the unofficial MVP of the U.S. team in 2010 and a guy who's played very well this season under tough circumstances.
Could it be Miller? Absolutely, and it wouldn't be that surprising. But the other guy in the mix happens to be a former playoff MVP in Jonathan Quick, who has been strong in net for Los Angeles since returning from a groin injury.
Once again, NHL.com was on-site for practice and got reaction from the players and coaches following the skate. Here's how Team USA skated on Tuesday in Sochi...