While ten of our beloved Chicago Blackhawks are taking the ice in Sochi in their respective quests to bring glory to their homelands, one Blackhawk has already stuck gold. Well, technically speaking on both accounts.
This January, the Blackhawks #1 and 18th overall 2012 NHL Draft pick Teuvo Teravainen helped lead his native Finland’s team to a gold medal in the World Junior Championship, and amassed 15 points in seven games in the process. Suffice it to say Teravainen is the hottest prospect in the Blackhawks’ system right now, so the question Hawks fans to should begin to ask now is when are we going to see the promising 19 year old in a red, white, and black sweater?
The question may seem a bit premature, but consider the following: We all know the best way to build a hockey team is up the center, literally, starting with the center position. The Blackhawks organization obviously knows this, just like they know the Hawks thrive as a possession team, and the one thing a possession team needs is the puck. Guess what’s the best way to get the puck? Face-offs.
Winning face-offs help you win games, and especially if you’re a possession team, which explains why the Blackhawks made trades for veteran centers late in the season last year (Michal Handzus) and this year (Peter Regin). Handzus and Regin were not acquired with the intention of being long term fixtures on the Blackhawks, but rather quick patch jobs, more or less, for an immediate and important need. The intended long term solutions in the Blackhawks prospect system, Brandon Pirri and Jeremy Morin, needless to say, haven’t exactly worked according to plan.
Which is why the Blackhawks may be looking in Teravainen’s direction this season. Hawks GM Stan Bowman opted to leave Teravainen in Finland to finish out the season and compete in the World Junior Championship tourney instead of bringing him to the AHL Rockford Icehogs to develop, and thus far it looks like it was the right decision.
Teravainen has proven to excel as either a winger or center and has demonstrated an extraordinarily high hockey IQ. What he lacks in grit and physicality at this point in his career he makes up for in creative playmaking. Sound promising?
The Blackhawks organization thinks so, and considering Pirri’s back in the minors and Regin’s presence will likely regulate Handzus to a healthy scratch most games going forward (especially considering how little Zus will have left in the tank after his Olympic tour), the Hawks are in need of a center during the home-stretch to the playoffs. Enter Teravainen. Considering there’s roughly two weeks to ponder bringing the young Fin on to the Hawks roster this season, the possibilities are tantalizing, especially given how easily past Blackhawks from Finland, such as Antti Niemi and Antti Raanta, have assimilated to North America hockey. So the timing isn’t an issue.
Regardless, even if Teravainen doesn’t hit the ice for the Blackhawks this season, it’s a safe bet we’ll be seeing plenty of this promising Finnish youth next season, and who in Chi-town doesn’t enjoy seeing the best get better?
FOR THE DAGGER!