The Dallas Stars defense will have a different look for tonight's game against the Minnesota Wild at the American Airlines Center. Julius Honka, the Stars' first-round pick in the 2014 draft, will make his NHL debut and John Klingberg will sit out as a healthy scratch after missing a team meeting this morning.
Honka, a skilled, slick skating offensive defenseman, was called up from the AHL Sunday along with Esa Lindell after the Stars placed defenseman Johnny Oduya (lower body) on injured reserve. Honka skated on a pair with Dan Hamhuis this morning and saw time on the top power play unit.
"Obviously, I am very excited to finally be here," Honka said. "Things were going really good in Austin, and now I've got a chance to play up here. I am excited."
The 20-year-old Honka, the 14th overall pick in 2014, is in his third pro season. He is tied for fourth among AHL defensemen in scoring with 12 points (three goals, nine assists) in 16 games this season. The native of Finland ranked sixth in AHL defenseman scoring last season with 44 points (11 goals, 33 assists) in 73 games.
Video: Honka on making his NHL debut
"He's a puck mover. He's got excellent skating skills. He moves the puck exceptionally well," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said.
As for Klingberg, Ruff said missing a meeting means you don't play.
"For me, it sums up our year," Ruff said. "Real bad timing. Yesterday was a day off for the team. He's going to be treated no different than anybody else that has missed meetings. You are not going to play."
A dejected Klingberg addressed the issue after coming off the ice this morning.
"Look at how the team is now, it's obviously not the best timing," Klingberg said. "I am going to have to learn from this. I feel embarrassed. There are no excuses. I overslept, but there are no excuses. I feel embarrassed. I told my teammates I am sorry, it's not going to happen again.
"I am supposed to be one of the leaders of the team, and I let my team down coming late for a meeting after a day off. I am missing a game that's really important for us. There are no excuses. I feel ashamed."
With Klingberg out, it appears that Lindell and Jamie Oleksiak could be in tonight. They skated as a pair this morning. Jordie Benn and Stephen Johns were another pair. Patrik Nemeth skated with Klingberg so he could be the other scratch on defense.
There are changes at forward as well. Cody Eakin moved up to the top line to center Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, and Jason Spezza was back at center with Patrick Sharp and Patrick Eaves on his wings. Curtis McKenzie skated late, so he is the expected scratch at forward.
Antti Niemi was the first goaltender off the ice, so he is expected to get the start in goal.
Tonight's game wraps up a four-game homestand for the Stars (7-7-5).
Stars defenseman Johnny Oduya suffered a lower-body injury in Saturday's 5-2 loss to Edmonton and is now on injured reserve. He left the game late in the first period, returned and then didn't play the last half of the third period.
"We are hoping for a small window," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "He missed some time a couple games ago, and he tried to play through it. We're hoping this is a three-game type of window."
Darcy Kuemper is expected to get the start tonight in goal for the Wild (9-7-1). He is 2-1-0 with a 2.93 goals-against average and .908 save percentage. He won his last start, stopping 35 shots in a 2-1 overtime win over Ottawa on Nov. 13. Forward Zach Parise, who missed Saturday's game against Colorado, is expected to play tonight.
Who: Minnesota Wild at Dallas Stars
Where: American Airlines Center
When: 7:30 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest Plus
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM
Stars Projected Lineup
Jamie Benn - Cody Eakin - Tyler Seguin
Patrick Sharp - Jason Spezza - Patrick Eaves
Antoine Roussel - Radek Faksa - Brett Ritchie
Lauri Korpikoski - Devin Shore - Adam Cracknell
Dan Hamhuis - Julius Honka
Jordie Benn - Stephen Johns
Esa Lindell - Jamie Oleksiak
Scratched: Patrik Nemeth, Curtis McKenzie, John Klingberg
Injured: Johnny Oduya (lower body), Jiri Hudler (illness), Mattias Janmark (knee), Ales Hemsky (hip)
Wild Projected Lineup
Zach Parise - Eric Staal - Mikael Granlund
Tyler Graovac - Mikko Koivu - Charlie Coyle
Nino Niederreiter - Erik Haula - Jason Pominville
Jason Zucker - Zack Mitchell - Chris Stewart
Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin - Christian Folin
Mike Reilly - Matt Dumba
Scratches: Christoph Bertschy
Injuries: Marco Scandella (ankle), Zac Dalpe (knee), Nate Prosser (undisclosed)
This story was not subject to approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.