Hurricanes Extend Teravainen. Is He Worth It?

On the heels of bringing in Nino Niederreiter from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for Victor Rask, the Carolina Hurricanes signed forward Teuvo Teravainen to a contract extension last Monday. It is the second move that the ‘Canes have made while the hockey universe sits eagerly by waiting for word on what will be the future of Micheal Ferland.

Teravainen Extension Details

In the Hurricanes’ announcement of the extension team president and general manager, Don Waddell said,

Teuvo has improved every year of his NHL career and has established himself as a cornerstone forward for the Hurricanes now and into the future. He has shown that he is capable of adapting and expanding his role with our team, becoming a key penalty killer for Rod this season. He’s still just 24 years old and we believe he will only continue to grow as a player.

His bank account will also grow as his contract extension is for five years and $27 million. It starts in 2019-20 and runs through the 2023-24 season. Not a bad deal for a 24-year old from Helsinki, Finland getting to do what he loves while making significant income at the same time.

Teuvo Teravainen, Carolina Hurricanes, Mar. 1, 2018 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)
Teuvo Teravainen, Carolina Hurricanes (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Case for Teravainen?

His statistics thus far make the case for Teravainen:

  • He ranks second among Hurricane skaters in assists (32), points (43) and power-play points (13) this season.
  • He is tied for second on the team in power-play goals (5) and fifth on the team in goals (11).
  • He has appeared in 210 career games since joining the Hurricanes in 2016-17, ranking first on the team in assists (96) and second in points (144) during that span.

A glance at these stats would lead one to think that perhaps Teravainen is deserving of such a healthy contract. Taken alone, the numbers speak to a forward who is active and effective.

Brett Finger at Canes Country wrote a characterization of the evolution of Teravainen that further implies he deserves the contract: “…he has evolved into an all-around player whose skill set is on display in all three zones. He has gone from being a player who only sticks out when he’s in the offensive zone to a player whose end-to-end effort keeps him engaged every single shift. You see further maturation in his game on a regular basis.”

Teuvo Teravainen Hurricanes
Teuvo Teravainen, Carolina Hurricanes (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

There were some questions about his game when the Hurricanes acquired him from the Chicago Blackhawks in June 2016. He was viewed as a young player with upside, but who was still finding his way. Chris Peters wrote for CBS Sports at the time of the trade:

The 21-year-old Finn had only 35 points in 78 games last season as head coach Joel Quenneville moved him around the lineup trying to find the right fit. A natural center, Teravainen can also play on the wing and provides some high-end passing and stickhandling ability to contribute offensively. He could end up thriving in an elevated role in Carolina.

Peters’ analysis sounds like a prospect profile even though Teravainen was drafted by the Blackhawks in 2012, and by 2016 had two full seasons on NHL ice under his belt. He had even put up 10 points in the 2015 Playoffs as the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup. Yet Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville apparently didn’t know what to do with the young, budding Teravainen, who was still considered by most in 2016 to still be developing. Some say he is still developing.

The fact is that Teravainen is essential to the Hurricanes at this point in their efforts to build a playoff-contending team. His high assist totals speak to his chemistry with teammate, and often linemate, Sebastian Aho.

Good Contract for Teravainen & Hurricanes

Teravainen has to feel good about where he is in his young career. While Peters described him as a natural center, he has found a home on the Hurricanes’ left wing. When clicking, the “TSA line” – Teravainen, Jordan Staal and Aho – are as good as any top line in the league.

Teuvo Teravainen
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA – JANUARY 03: Teuvo Teravainen #86 of the Carolina Hurricanes (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Staal has been out for some time this season, missing two weeks due to a concussion and now several games with an upper-body injury. His anchoring of a line with Teravainen and Aho, however, has been a potent force for the ‘Canes off and on for the past 18 months.

On June 30, 2017, Fox Sports talked about the genesis of the TSA line: “Finally. After a month of being surrounded by offensively inept wingers, Head Coach Bill Peters finally gave Jordan Staal some help. Teravainen and Aho flanked Staal on Saturday and thus the TSA line was born. The line had immediate chemistry, scoring 4 of Carolina’s 5 goals against Washington. With 9 points in 14 games, Staal’s offense is finally catching up to everything else. His new line isn’t going to be that awesome every night, but it should allow him to a more dynamic center.”

The TSA line may or may not see a revival when Staal is back and up to full strength. But, it’s been good and may be again.

Here is an intangible that is not often mentioned about Teravainen and why it is easy to say, “Yes, he is worth the contract he just received from the Hurricanes.” Teravainen lifts up those around him.

There is no “this guy makes others better” line on the box score. But, if he is doing well, chances are that Aho or Staal or someone else is also doing well. His willingness to pass and take an assist as opposed to trying to run up his own goal total is emblematic of this quality. He simply makes those around him better.

It’s the Blackhawks that did not see this enough to keep him in the fold, but let him go to the Hurricanes. Their loss has become a huge gain for the ‘Canes, and he has yet to reach his full potential. Quenneville may not have known what to do with him, but Waddell and owner Tom Dundon sure did. They wrapped him up for the next few years and that is a very good thing.