Mar 19, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Ben Smith (28) plays the puck against St. Louis Blues center Patrik Berglund (21) during the first period at the United Center. The Blackhawks beat the Blues 4-0. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports
The Blackhawks are faced with an interesting situation. Teuvo Teravainen has been released by his Finnish club to the Blackhawks. The Blackhawks have been having internal discussions on how to use Teravainen and how to navigate the salary cap.
Assuming Teravainen is brought up to the Blackhawks this season, what position does he play? Now everyone including myself has anointed him the second line center of the future, but what about the present? The injury to Patrick Kane changes the dynamic a little bit.
If Kane was healthy, I think the Blackhawks would have inserted Teravainen into the lineup with Kane immediately. This would have given the Blackhawks two dynamic play makers on the same line and also eased Teravainen’s transition to the NHL. With the already lofty expectation placed on this kid putting him on the second line without Kane could be a recipe for disaster. Fans would immediately assume that because of the lofty expectations and his place on the team, he would instanstly fill in for Kane. There is only one Patrick Kane and he is currently hurt. Let’s not forget Teravainen is only 19 years old and has not played in a regular season AHL or NHL hockey game. There is no arguing with his talent but he needs time to adapt to the NHL style of play.
With Kane being injury, Teravainen should not be inserted into the second line center position. My suggestion would be for Tervainen to center the third line when he comes to the NHL. The second line center position should continue to be played by Ben Smith. Smith assumed the role recently and has brought the Blackhawks instance success. He was impressive in the Blackhawks 4-0 win over the Blues. Smith had one goal in 18:15 minutes of ice time.
In my opinion (see Ben Smith for Second Line Center) Smith should have gotten a look at second line center sooner. Smith has better numbers than Peter Regin (2 goals and 1 assists) and Michal Handzus ( 4 goals and 9 assists) this season. Smith who has played mainly on the fourth line, has amassed 10 goals and 12 assists on the season. Smith is a try hard energy guy that will do the dirty work necessary to play center at the NHL level. The last two goals scored by Smith were greasy goals in front of the net.
Smith should be the choice over Teravainen this season. Teravainen has more upside and will be a more dynamic player than Smith in the long term. Teravainen is the future but let’s not sacrifice the present to start the future. Smith is a proven AHL and NHL player. Smith has played in big NHL moments none bigger than Game three of the Stanley Cup Finals last season.
Teuvo Time should begin on the third line or fourth line and it should Smith sailing on the second line.
The Blackhawks will take on the Hurricanes on Friday at the United Center. Teuvo is set to be in Chicago by Friday per Bob McKenzie.
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