The Chicago Blackhawks are going to look even scarier than usual before they attempt to defend their Stanley Cup title.
— Chris Kuc (@ChrisKuc) March 11, 2014
Many hockey fans weren’t aware of Teuvo Teravainen before this year’s World Junior hockey tournament, which he led in scoring as Finland took home a gold medal. Many still aren’t.
Well, they will be soon.
Teravainen has spend all of his junior and professional hockey career with the Jokerit Helinski organization, including the past three years with their Finnish Elite League club. In 132 career games, Teravainen has amassed 33 goals and 93 points. He has steadily moved up the depth chart and scoring race in all three seasons, beginning as a fourth-liner at age 16.
Teravainen was considered a “steal” by Bowman and the Blackhawks at the 2012 entry draft, where he fell all the way to the 18th overall position, where Chicago snatched him up. Since then, Teravainen has been believed to be the second-biggest offensive threat selected in that first round, besides the first overall pick, Nail Yakupov of the Edmonton Oilers. Some have even gone as far to call him the next “Finnish Flash” as Teemu Selanne‘s career comes to a close.
All the hype, all before playing his first NHL game.
Jokerit is currently not in the playoff race, and will play their final game of the season on Thursday, against SM-liiga’s top-ranked team. With Teravainen agreeing to a contract in the summer, the Blackhawks simply have to put him on a plane, and get him NHL-ready through practice. Much like the Washington Capitals did with Evgeny Kuznetsov, the process could take a matter of days, and Teuvo could make his Blackhawks debut as early as Tuesday, March 18th, when the Blackhawks visit the Philadelphia Flyers, on national television no less.
However, the smart money in this case is on a later appearance. The Blackhawks aren’t thirsty for goal-scoring, as Jonathan Toews has led the offense into 15 goals in their past four games. Teuvo can certainly take his time to adjust to the NHL pace of play via practice, and jump in to the lineup on a day like Friday the 21st, when the Blackhawks face the Carolina Hurricanes.
Teravainen won’t be pressure-free when he arrives: many in Blackhawks’ camp expect him to be the long-awaited answer at the second-line center position. Michal Handzus and Brandon Pirri have tried their hand, but Teravainen’s puck-movement and blistering speed will only give Patrick Kane even more reasons to put the puck in the net. Teravainen is also defensively liable, something rare in young offensive prospects.
Teravainen’s only setback will be his size (5′ 10″, 185 lb), giving the Blackhawks a second line smaller than the NHL norm.
It won’t be long before the much-anticipated debut of the Blackhawks’ future second-line center, and with the playoffs approaching near, the timing couldn’t be better.
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