Recently, Chicago Blackhawks prospect Teuvo Teravainen said that he hoped to come to North America as soon as this year, but after his performance at the World Junior Championships in Malmo, Sweden this week, that wish might very well become a reality.
That’s because Teravainen ended up leading all scorers in the tournament by scoring three goals and dishing out 12 assists for Team Finland in their run to a gold medal victory. In that 3-2 victory over the home nation Swedes in the final, Teravainen picked up assists on all three Finnish goals, including the overtime game winner scored by Rasmus Ristolainen, a Buffalo Sabres prospect.
Teravainen has made it a point to step up in a big way in the annual IIHF tournament, scoring five goals and adding six assists in the 2013 edition of the championship.
Perhaps most appealing of all when it comes to his skillset is the experience that he is gaining playing top-line center minutes. As Finland’s captain, Teravainen really set the tone for the rest of his team, and big victories over Team Canada in the semifinals and Sweden in the final really have lit the hockey world on fire when talking about his bright future.
The question then is where exactly Teravainen will fit in if he does make the jump to North America next season. At this point, it wouldn’t be out of the question to see him vie for the long-vacant role of second line center for the Blackhawks, and imagining him on a line with Brandon Saad and Patrick Kane has got to be a tantalizing proposition for Blackhawks fans sick of seeing Michal Handzus serve as a millstone around Kane’s neck this season.
Before fans get too excited though, some consideration has to be given to the adjustment period that Teravainen will likely have to go through while adjusting to the North American game. The smaller ice surface shouldn’t be much of a problem for someone with his great ice vision and passing ability, but having to get around some of the great defensive forwards in the NHL isn’t as easy in a confined space, so Teravainen would probably benefit from some time with the Rockford IceHogs when he comes over.
Odds are a stint in Rockford wouldn’t begin this season unless Jokerit’s playoff run ends early, but the Blackhawks could bring Teravainen in as a black ace call-up (during the Stanley Cup playoffs, teams will usually bring a slew of prospects along to share in the experience and, in rare cases, fill in for injured veterans) this year.
Even still, other NHL teams have surely taken notice of Teravainen on the horizon, and this could be yet another example of the talent-rich Blackhawks striking gold again with a Finnish player.