The Chicago Blackhawks are in the process of trimming down their roster for the 2014-15 season, and even though they have superstars at every position and a team that is coming off of consecutive Western Conference Final appearances, there are still some questions that have to be answered.
One of the biggest concerns what they are going to do with young forward Teuvo Teravainen. They called him up for a brief spell at the end of last season, playing him in three games with the big club before ultimately sending him back to the Rockford IceHogs.
This time around, Teravainen missed some time early in camp because of a collision with Cam Barker, but he has come back and even scored a goal for the Blackhawks in their game Sunday against the Edmonton Oilers. Unfortunately for him, his path to the NHL is blocked by a good number of forwards on the depth chart, and head coach Joel Quenneville perfectly summed up the team’s debate about what to do with the young forward:
Q said #Blackhawks have to decide if Teravainen is better off playing big minutes in the AHL than fourth-line minutes in NHL. (Hint: He is.)
— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) October 1, 2014
Obviously Mr. Lazerus has made it clear about where he falls on the debate, but it is an interesting question nonetheless. Having Teravainen start in the NHL this season would likely mean that he’s playing alongside guys like Ben Smith and Marcus Kruger, and that would force the youngster to play a slightly different game. Sure he’d still be able to bring the puck up the ice and get scoring chances, but he would also be responsible for playing solid defense and working with his linemates against some tough assignments.
In the AHL on the other hand, Teravainen could play with the top six forwards on the Rockford IceHogs, and he could get a bunch of playing time on the power play as well. Adding to that the fact that there would be way less pressure on him to succeed right away at that level, and it would appear that Rockford is the right path for the team to take with him.
Whatever direction the Blackhawks decide to take with Teravainen, they have bought themselves the luxury of patience with him. Having so many talented forwards on the team means that ice time is something hard-earned, and while Teravainen has a ton of skill, he probably isn’t at that point yet. Sending him to Rockford could be great for his development, and it is an option that the Blackhawks would be right to explore if they decide to go that way.