(Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images Sport)
Finnish phenom Teuvo Teravainen had #TeuvoTime trending in Chicago, along with Chuck Norris-style hyperbole about superpowers, when the Blackhawks prospect was about to join the pro squad in March. The young player has been on quite a rollercoaster ride since.
Just two months ago, the Chicago Tribune published Teuvo-isms, such as “he has perfect handwriting–with his hockey skates,” and he is “suing NBC, claiming ‘law’ and ‘order’ are trademarked names for his wrist shot and slap shot.”
— ChicagoSports (@ChicagoSports) March 25, 2014
As much as Teravainen protested the claims of superpowers, decrying that he was just a kid who wanted to go play his best hockey, it didn’t eighty-six the endless chatter about number 86 when he stepped on United Center Ice.
Alas, the hype was much ado about nothing much–at least not yet. Teravainen played three games for the Blackhawks while Patrick Kane was out with a knee injury. The spotlight was blinding, but he had no goals or assists in the big league audition and was sent down to the AHL Rockford IceHogs, where he tallied two goals in five games for a plus-two rating.
With the Hogs’ season over, Teravainen joined Finland for the Euro Hockey Tour Friendly, a pre-tourney to the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championships.
There, he went from slap shot to slapstick, with a domino-effect line change against the Czech Republic.
Teravainen and the Fins ultimately pulled off a shootout win against the Czechs, and though Teravainen played well aside from the line change blunder, he wasn’t selected for Finland’s IIHF World Championship team.
According to Hockey’s Future message boards, Teravainen was up against Olli Jokinen, Petri Kontiola, and Jarkko Immonen.
Jokinen, 35, is a veteran center with the Winnipeg Jets. Kontiola, 29, had a short stint with the Blackhawks as well, but now plays center in the KHL. Immonen, 32, had a couple seasons with the New York Rangers, but has played consistently with the KHL as well. They all have more than 10 years of professional experience on Teravainen, so being the last player cut shouldn’t be a tremendous disappointment.
If it’s any consolation, Hockey’s Future has Teravainen listed as the 2014 Prospect of the Year for the NHL.
That is precisely what the Blackhawks see.
He was the Blackhawks’ first pick in the 2012 draft, snatched up at 18th overall.
“We weren’t targeting him because we had him as one of the top players in the draft,” General Manager Stan Bowman told media when the team announced he’d be joining them in March. “We never thought he would slide to us that far. So we started looking at one another when it got to 13 or 14 and we said, ‘Wow, he might be there.’ And our scouts said, ‘No question, if he’s there we have to take him.'”
During this 2013-14 season with Finland’s Jokerit, Teravainen had 44 points (nine goals, 35 assists) in 49 games. He had 31 points the previous season. In the World Junior Championship, he served as Finland’s captain, leading them to a final 3-2 overtime victory against Sweden. Teravainen assisted all three goals and was the tournament’s scoring leader (he had 15 points in seven games), guiding his team to the gold in January. He was selected the European Player of the Month for February.
At 19, 5’10” and 185 pounds, Teravainen has plenty of room to grow.
“He’s a young kid,” Blackhawks Coach Quenneville said in March. “It’s size, strength, experience, all things … you expect (him) to improve upon. The overall speed of the game, knowing that there’s not as much time as you (have) overseas where there’s more space and the game isn’t as much of a pressure type of situation. That’s probably the thing he’ll get accustomed to quicker over here and learn… You don’t have much time. You have to do things quick.”
The Hawks, in recent history, have had success molding young draft picks Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.
Toews was drafted third overall in 2006, and is now a two-time Stanley Cup winner, two-time Olympic Gold Medalist, Conn Smythe Trophy (playoff MVP) winner. He was the youngest member of the Triple Gold Club (World Championship, Stanley Cup Championship, Olympic Gold) at 22 in 2010. Toews scored on his first shot as a Blackhawk in 2007 and was the team’s youngest captain at 20.
Kane was the first overall pick in the 2007 draft. He scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal in 2010 and has two Cups and a Conn Smythe to his credit. In 2012-2013, Kane and Toews tied, leading the team with 23 goals, but Kane took the lead with assists, at 32.
With speed and size similarities to Kane, Teravainen has a bright future in the NHL.
The Blackhawks are confident “TeuvoTime” will come.