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Top 2014 prospect to play for Swift Current

by Adam Kimelman

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- Finnish defenseman Julius Honka, a top prospect for the 2014 NHL Draft, told on Saturday that he will play this season for the Swift Current Broncos of the Western Hockey League.

Honka said the chance to be seen by more NHL scouts in his draft year was the biggest reason he opted to come to North America.

"I think that the biggest thing was that the [NHL] draft is next spring and that is the biggest thing," Honka told "Last season I think I want to play [in North America] and now I have a chance to play there."

The 5-foot-10, 167-pound defenseman had four goals and 11 assists in 42 games with JYP's team in the Finnish under-20 league last season. He also had a goal and three assists for Finland at the 2013 World Under-18 Championship.

Swift Current selected Honka with the 34th pick of this summer's Canadian Hockey League Import Draft.

"Julius Honka is smallish but an excellent skater with great balance," Goran Stubb, NHL Director of European Scouting, told "He is an offensive-minded defenseman with good vision and a high skill level. Quick moves, reads the game very well and loves to join the offensive rush."

Honka said he had discussions with the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL, but Swift Current moved on him before Portland could come up from No. 60.

"We had talks a little bit with Portland, but Swift Current drafted me a couple spots before," Honka said. "But Swift Current is a good place, I know it, and it'll be good for me."

Follow Adam Kimelman on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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