Editorials

Chicago Blackhawks-Teuvo Teravainen Reunion Worth Looking Into

By Tim Martens
OTTAWA, ON - MARCH 24: Carolina Hurricanes Winger Teuvo Teravainen (86) skates during warm-up before National Hockey League action between the Carolina Hurricanes and Ottawa Senators on March 24, 2018, at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, ON, Canada. (Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
OTTAWA, ON - MARCH 24: Carolina Hurricanes Winger Teuvo Teravainen (86) skates during warm-up before National Hockey League action between the Carolina Hurricanes and Ottawa Senators on March 24, 2018, at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, ON, Canada. (Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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The Carolina Hurricanes are apparently in sell mode. The Chicago Blackhawks should at least make a call to find out the price of one of their old contributors.

Over the last 10 years, the Chicago Blackhawks have had to ship away a great number of players due to salary cap restrictions. Some of those players found their way back to Chicago at one time or another, including Brandon Saad, Patrick Sharp, Andrew Ladd, Kris Versteeg and Brian Campbell.

With a longer-than-usual offseason for Blackhawks fans, many have kept up with the Stanley Cup Playoffs to get their hockey fix and have seen a few familiar names taking part. Artemi Panarin, Dustin Byfuglien, Ryan Hartman and Michal Kempny have all made contributions to their new teams this postseason, and it has many fans making arguments about why the ‘Hawks should never have parted ways with these players.

But the player who now plays elsewhere that keeps me awake at night didn’t see postseason play at all this year: Teuvo Teravainen.

Now this will not be the first or the last time you will hear a Teravainen fan lamenting the loss of Teuvo. Trading away Teravainen as the incentive to the Carolina Hurricanes taking Bryan Bickell’s contract off the ‘Hawks’ hands, the move has only hurt worse and worse as time goes on.

First off, when the trade originally happened, Teuvo was entering the final year of his entry level contract, carrying a cap hit of $894,167.

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For a ‘Hawks team always looking to save money, having to give up a talented young player on an extremely affordable deal just to move a bloated contract is very painful, especially in hindsight. 

Even worse was that there was only one year left on Bickell’s deal. If Stan Bowman could have figured a different way to get around Bickell’s $4 million cap hit, the team would have retained the rights to one of their most promising prospects.

Next, in Teuvo’s first year in Carolina he started to show improvement. Fifteen goals and 27 assists at age 22, Teuvo was not changing the NHL, but he was a solid contributor and flashed moments of having a high ceiling. 

He also showed the ability to get himself in a good spot in front of the net repeatedly, even when he seems undersized, and the hand-eye coordination to make things harder on opposing goaltenders.

Teravainen was at the end of his entry-level deal. With the skill set that he has, he was due for a raise, but (without tearing the league up yet) a bridge deal made sense for both sides. Carolina ended up signing Teuvo to a deal with a cap hit of $2.86 million a year for two seasons.

Last year, in the first season under his new contract, Teuvo started to break out a bit more. The Finnish youngster played in all 82 games for the Hurricanes and tallied 23 goals and 41 assists on the season. His 64 points had him finishing the season higher than every Blackhawk not named Patrick Kane.

Teravainen continued to work in the hard areas on the ice and show off his talent a season ago, both of which you can see in his two-goal night against Carey Price and the Canadiens in January:

Now, Teuvo enters his fourth full NHL season at the age of 24 on the last year of a deal that will only cost the Hurricanes $2.86 million against the cap. Not to knock the play of any of the Blackhawks young forwards, but (at this point) would you take any of them over Teuvo if you were re-drafting a team?

If all of this weren’t so much to think about, it is an interview Bob McKenzie had on Toronto radio that has my thoughts spinning today:

I totally understand the fears fans have with bringing an ex-Blackhawks player back to the fold. It has been anything but successful over the years. But I am ready to roll the dice one more time if it was for Teravainen. 

The Hurricanes are looking to unload talent, and apparently that means anyone but Sebastian Aho is available. Would they be willing to part with Teravainen for the 27th pick in the first round and a later round pick at this year’s draft? It would certainly be worth finding out.

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The Blackhawks are at a tough spot in the road where they may be looking to make major moves and fully rebuild, or they may be looking to try and re-tool one more time with the current roster. The beauty about a trade for Teuvo is that he would fit with either plan.

If the team is going young and rebuilding, he could be a strong piece to build on for years to come. If the team is trying to make one more run in 2018-19, he is a perfect piece to plug in to add some offensive abilities to the forward group.

Maybe it is the fan boy in me hoping for this and I am delusional in thinking Teuvo could still be a superstar in the NHL. It is certainly possible I am biased. But even if Teravainen is just a consistent 50- to 60-point producer year after year, that would definitely be worth investing in.

If you forgot the fun we had with Teuvo last time he donned a Blackhawks sweater, I’ll leave this video of Game 1 of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final for you, in which he scored the game-tying goal and assisted on the game-winning goal (complete with play-by-play in Teravainen’s native tongue): 

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I just hope Bowman makes the call to at least find out if one more Blackhawks reunion could be something the team could afford, because having Teuvo back in the Windy City could be a smart move for the franchise.

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