Teuvo Teravainen Had A Strange Sophomore Season In Chicago
(Writer’s note: Andrew Shaw‘s spot was supposed to be up, but we have another Blackhawk Up post running about him today. So Shaw will be saved for the next grade post.)
Teuvo Teravainen is and was supposed to be a Finnish version of Patrick Kane. He checks off some of the boxes for that, with his fast and flashy hands and his ability to see the entirety of the ice in front of him. But the point production just hasn’t followed.
The 2015-16 campaign was Teuvo’s first of more than 41 regular-season games. There were flashes of brilliance, and times when you thought “This is the start of the Teuvo we’ve been waiting for.” And then he’d slip into the supporting cast for an undetermined but seemingly lengthy amount of time. It was frustrating for fans, but definitely not as frustrating as it was for Teuvo.
And when the playoffs rolled around, things just went all cockeyed. When you add it all up, it’s led to some fans asking if Teuvo might be an offseason trade piece, as he’s due for a new contract after next season and the team is currently in another salary cap crunch.
2015-16 regular-season stats: 78 games, 13 goals, 22 assists, minus-2 rating
2016 postseason stats: 7 games, 0 goals, 1 assist, plus-1 rating
Teuvo saw his average time on ice rise from 12:47 per game last regular season to 15:21 this season. So he’s digging into Joel Quenneville‘s circle of trust, per say, which had been a major problem for him up until now. Teuvo found his way on to the ice in pretty much all situations throughout the season, leading to nine powerplay points and a shorthanded point.
Teuvo also found a little bit of balance to his game this season. Hockey-reference estimated that Teuvo contributed 2 points (in the standings) to the Blackhawks by way of his offense, and another 1.2 points by way of his defense. That’s well up from 0.2 and 0.7 last season.
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And while this may seem a bit of a surprise to some, he was also one of the more reliable Blackhawks with the puck, posting just 25 giveaways to 35 takeaways in the regular season. His ratio was 5:0 (takeaways to giveaways) in the postseason.
While we’ve hoped for more offense from Teuvo, his 35 points are respectable considering his zone starts. Teuvo posted 57 percent of his shift starts in the defensive zone but managed to walk away with a 51.23 Corsi-for mark at even strength. This is definitely a positive for a smaller player like Teuvo who should theoretically be easier to handle, especially for bigger opponents. Teuvo is showing some Kane-like ability in that way, but not only in the offensive zone.
There is no secret Teuvo’s deployment has been a bit of an issue, and that was definitely at the forefront this season. While Q’s lines were in flux consistently, Teuvo may have had the most linemates of anyone on the team. He played with everyone from Kane to Brandon Mashinter. I’m surprised he wasn’t on a line with Corey Crawford and Scott Darling at some point.
The reason for this, however, isn’t just that Q gets a little mad-scientist sometimes. It’s also that Teuvo needs a very specific type of linemate to succeed, which is a problem in the NHL.
Fans wondering why he struggled to succeed with guys like Kane, Artemi Panarin, Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa, no matter how little time he might’ve spent with them, need only look at the fact Teuvo works far better when he’s allowed and able to be the primary playmaker with the puck. Those four guys can make their own plays, and it creates a problem for Teuvo, who still hasn’t found his complete ability to finish plays as opposed to starting them.
But when you drop Teuvo to the lower lines, there’s very little for him to create with. It’s why, however, he had immediate success with Tomas Fleischmann upon the latter’s arrival in Chicago. Fleischmann is skilled enough to play off Teuvo’s playmaking abilities, something we couldn’t see in Mashinter, Andrew Desjardins or even Andrew Shaw. Of course, as soon as Fleischmann had a couple bum nights, he was off to the glue factory, leaving Teuvo in no-man’s land again.
What doesn’t help with this is the coaching staff’s uncertainty about where to play Teuvo: at wing or center. Teuvo was bad at faceoffs this season, posting a 40.5 percent success rate in the regular season. But considering how much he was jerked around position-wise and among the four lines, it’s no surprise he couldn’t develop a rhythm at the dot. Teuvo wasn’t used consistently as a center until March, but we expect him to win at an 80-plus percent clip come playoff time? Please.
Teuvo needs to work only as a wing, or he needs to work only as a center and get some strong time in practicing faceoffs. He can make plays at either position, so you really can’t go wrong as long as you improve his faceoff stats. The main issue with Teuvo moving forward, really, is who the Blackhawks surround him with.
This is a tough grade, because Teuvo handled a bevy of defensive-zone starts a lot better than most might’ve expected. He sort of became a half-Marcus Kruger with more offensive upside. But the jerking around among lines and positions was problematic for his continued development.
With a contract year coming up and the Blackhawks not moving Teuvo at this year’s trade deadline, the message should be really clear to Teuvo moving forward: We’re willing to give you a run, so you have to produce. But the problem with this lies both in Q’s management of Teuvo and Teuvo’s own issues not yet being developed as a play finisher versus a play maker.
I think giving up on Teuvo at this point would be a mistake, and I’m hopeful he and the coaching staff can find a happy and consistent medium in his playing position and linemates next season that allows him to really break out offensively.