NHL: Dallas Stars at Chicago Blackhawks

Something In The Way – C.I.’s Season Preview: Finnish Baby Jesus

If it wasn’t for all the bullshit that surrounds the Hawks right now, I would have to say the development of Teuvo Teravainen would probably be the most fascinating aspect of the Hawks this year. We have a player who took over a 3rd period in Game 1 of the Final at the age of 20 (and also the 2nd period of Game 5 of the Western Conference Final). He can play wing or center, and even the Hawks don’t seem quite sure where he should go. Once he was finally cemented on the roster, which took too long, he had one play each game where you weren’t so much blown back that he did it, but that he even thought of it in the first place. If the Hawks are intent on producing a new batch of a core to support their old one, or one to replace the one they had behind the old one (*cough*Saad*cough*), Teuvo is most likely the leading light of that.

Last season: 34 games, 4 goals, 5 assists, 9 points, +4, 2 PIM, 54.1% Corsi (+1.4 Relative) 50.3% Corsi Competition 

You probably forgot the fiasco at the beginning of last season when everyone who watched training camp, including the Hawks’ brass themselves, knew for a fact that Teuvo had no business being demoted to Rockford. But he had to be due to some mangling of the cap, and the Hawks’ dressed it up as him needing more seasoning. They caught something of a break when Teuvo didn’t immediately light it up in the AHL, though observers there pointed out a large part of the problem was he was simply ahead of his teammates there. He got a brief cameo in December for a few weeks, went back down, and then as soon as Kane got hurt he was up for good. The playoffs were something of a coming out party, where he managed 10 points in 18 games… and basically sending the entire fandom into orbit when Q scratched him and Vermette for Game 3 of the WCF even though they’d been probably the most effective line in Game 2 so Q could prove once again just what a genius he is. You’d forgotten that too, I bet, but that’s probably just for mental health reasons.

Turbo Targaryn was mostly kept at wing last year, with only a flash at center. While he showed advanced defensive awareness as a pivot, his size at times was definitely a hinderance and probably what gives the Hawks pause now. But that was obviously counterbalanced by his incredible vision and hands, which even his NHL teammates took some time getting used to and anticipating. Looking back on it, having him and Vermette on a third line was basically cheating.

This Season’s Outlook: Once again, the Hawks don’t seem to know exactly where they want to play him. At some points in camp he’s centered Panarin and Tikhonov, at least until Panarin got hurt. He’s played a game or two on the 2nd line’s wing, though as his and Kane’s game are so similar that doesn’t appear to make much sense. If the Hawks are going to find out if he can handle the middle at this level, early this season is the time. They have three other two-way, sizable wingers (even if Kruger isn’t actually that big he certainly plays like it) to handle all the threats thrown their way. Teuvo can be given the cushiest shifts in terms of both zone and opponent. Not that versatility is a bad thing, and Dano kind of falls into the same category. I sort of have this vision that if Hossa were given the occasional night off to put on some slippers and sip tea at home, Teuvo could slid from 3C to the top line’s RW and that certainly would look ok for the odd game.

Teuvo also needs to be given the keys to the second power play unit, which he really should have last year. Daley working the point and Teuvo on the wall should make that unit pretty dangerous (perhaps more dangerous than the mangled one up top), which should boost his point total. Depending on where he plays and with whom, 45 points is not out of reach. Which if it’s coming from your 3rd line, you’ll take.

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