Chicago Blackhawks’ Teuvo Trade Shows Misplaced Values

By Colin Likas
Apr 9, 2016; Columbus, OH, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Teuvo Teravainen (86) against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. The Blue Jackets won 5-4 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 9, 2016; Columbus, OH, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Teuvo Teravainen (86) against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. The Blue Jackets won 5-4 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /

Trading Teuvo Teravainen Was A Mistake By The Chicago Blackhawks

In what has become an annual occurrence since the team’s first of three Stanley Cup wins in seven seasons, the Chicago Blackhawks have started their annual offseason roster shake-up. It began with a bang Wednesday, as Teuvo Teravainen and Bryan Bickell were moved to Carolina for draft picks, and Richard Panik was inked to a one-year deal a short time later.

The trade all but confirmed the Blackhawks will be doing everything they can to retain Andrew Shaw, and Chicago Sun-Times writer Mark Lazerus provided some supporting evidence for that:

How much money Shaw gets is uncertain at this point, but we should be fearful the Blackhawks will overpay for him. Bickell’s four-year, $16 million deal and Marcus Kruger‘s three-year, $9.25 million deal set precedent for that, and if the Blackhawks were willing to part with a promising young talent like Teuvo to keep Shaw around, Shaw can command a pretty high dollar amount.

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General Manager Stan Bowman has made an interesting decision here, essentially saying he values Shaw over Teuvo. And I think this is a really poor decision and viewpoint.

First off, I know getting Bickell’s albatross contract off the books has been a goal of his for some time, and Bowman should be commended for taking care of it. However, I’m not sure Teuvo had to go in order to move Bickell. Sort of like with Stephen Johns in the Patrick Sharp deal, it feels like the Blackhawks gave away too much in untapped talent and potential in order to make a salary-related move.

What Bowman does with the cap space acquired by moving these guys remains to be seen, and it could alter my view of this deal. But I’m not going to be convinced Shaw is a more valuable asset to the Blackhawks than Teuvo.

Teuvo is a 21-year-old playmaker who has been compared to Patrick Kane. He’s a guy who hadn’t gotten a ton of time playing alongside the Blackhawks’ stars, usually spending a game or two with someone like Kane or Jonathan Toews before being banished to Brandon Mashinter babysitting for another 12 games. His development was far from complete, but he showed great on-ice vision and offensive abilities.

Were there kinks to work out with Teuvo? Absolutely. His defense needed some work, and his faceoff prowess could currently be described as iffy. But he’s 21, and he would’ve been developing alongside guys like Kane, Toews, Artem Anisimov and Marian Hossa. It’s very likely he would’ve made big leaps and bounds in coming seasons.

On top of that, Teuvo was cheap. He’s currently making less than $850,000, and it’d probably be another three or more years before a salary-cap shattering deal would be required.

So you’ve got youth, talent and cheapness, and you trade that away in favor of age (relative to Teuvo; Shaw is just 24), grit and a payday with Shaw. That’s an ugly trade.

Shaw, as fellow Blackhawk Up writer Mario Tirabassi pointed out earlier today, is entirely replaceable. A lot of Blackhawks fans don’t want to hear that, because Shaw comes off as “an average guy,” someone easy to relate to in Chicago. He’s undersized but gritty, not as talented as some of his teammates but hardworking.

Here’s the problem: There are plenty of gritty, hardworking, undersized guys in this league. You’ll find a solid handful of guys like that who would play their hearts out for a coach like Joel Quenneville. You know what’s not as easy to find? Guys who see the ice like Teuvo, and who have as much untapped potential as Teuvo.

But the Blackhawks somehow find more value in Shaw, who has consistently muffed breakaway opportunities, taken tons of silly offensive-zone penalties, lost about 60 percent of his faceoffs and looked lost while dragging down the likes of Toews and Hossa. And he’ll probably wind up with a very Bickell-like contract to boot.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike Shaw. Even after the gay slur in the postseason, which infuriated and still infuriates me, I don’t dislike the guy. And he’s certainly due for a raise after a career offensive year for $2 million. And I’m not in love with Teuvo, either. He’s not my favorite Blackhawk (that’d be Corey Crawford).

But Shaw in his best season is very, very likely going to be about a third as good as Teuvo in his best, once the Finn is able to play alongside actual talent, get consistent playing time and not have to be worried about getting yanked off the ice for every misstep.

This decision basically feels like it came down to Bowman asking Q, “Who do you like more, Teuvo or Shaw?” We all know how that conversation would go. Teuvo was hardly given an opportunity to succeed with the Blackhawks, while Shaw has been given every chance.

The Blackhawks with this trade, and with other decisions before this, have shown they only place value on young, talented prospects if they’re able to produce immediately, while gritty, expendable guys are going to get every chance in the world.

It’s why Marko Dano was rapidly shuttled out of Chicago. It’s why it took an injury to Daniel Carcillo for Brandon Saad to get a crack with the Blackhawks. It’s why Mark McNeill has gotten one measly NHL game under his belt when the Blackhawks have rolled out the likes Mashinter, Carcillo and John Scott on a near-nightly basis. It’s a mentality that makes no sense and results in contracts like that of Bickell, and results in the Blackhawks closing their Stanley Cup window.

Next: Blackhawks, Richard Panik Agree To Deal

Maybe Shaw will somehow play up to par with or better than whatever contract he gets. It seems unlikely, considering he’ll be getting $3 million or more for at least two seasons. But it’s possible. And we’ll see how Teuvo develops when given actual opportunities to grow and shine — we just won’t see it in Chicago.