When Teuvo Teravainen was drafted 18th overall in 2012, the Blackhawks knew they had a future playmaker.
The vision was very clear: Teravainen with his playmaking and passing combined with the all-around play of Patrick Kane. It was a match made in even.
Teravainen had some adjusting to do. First he needed to come to America and learn the NHL game. That required what some would like to call ‘seasoning’ down in the AHL with Rockford.
It wouldn’t take long, everybody said. A season and half at most. He’ll be ready to go.
Maybe the only knock on Teravainen was his size, coming in at 5’11 and 178 lbs. Although when compared to Patrick Kane, who is billed at the same height and weight, one may think the numbers may be inflated a bit.
Those predictions ended up being right. It took Teravainen 39 games this season before he got the call-up. He had a very healthy 25 points over those 39 games, proving that he had adjusted to the NHL style of play.
After finding himself stuck to the bottom six and not able to crack a ton of ice time, Teravainen showed that he was in fact human, a guy still with flaws in his game.
He was sent back to the AHL, in part due to a returning Kris Versteeg, but he knew that his time would come.
Enter an a injury to Patrick Kane. Not the perfect scenario for Teravainen to return, if a good scenario at all. Teravainen would slot right in on the second line and hope to fill in for Kane.
Fast forward a couple of weeks and Teravainen might be playing his best hockey, on the Blackhawks best line. Brandon Saad, newly acquired Antoine Vermette and Teravainen have been the speed, playmaking line the Blackhawks needed to break them out of their offensive slump.
With 12 games left in the season for this team, and a run at both Nashville and St. Louis still possible, Teuvo Teravainen is the key to the Blackhawk offense righting the ship.
He isn’t Patrick Kane, but he’s closest thing to it. Teravainen can be an immediate stop-gap to replace somebody that isn’t replaceable.
His game translates well to being along Saad and Vermette. It’s a line the should scare opposing teams in the playoffs.
And his good play has a ripple effect. The top line is configured with Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa. Guys like Versteeg and Bryan Bickell can slot on the 3rd line, where they are a better fit for a postseason team.
Teravainen is the key to the Hawks success in the postseason. His play can soften the blow of a Kane injury. He can give the Hawks four solid lines, a problem they have had doing this season, and it’s what wins a Stanley Cup.
A lot of pressure for a 24-year-old in his first NHL season, yet that’s where the Hawks season stands; at the feet of a rookie forward having to fill in for Patrick Kane.