With yesterday’s news that the Hawks have signed their 2012 first round pick Teuvo Teravainen to his entry level deal, both the franchise and the player are presented with some interesting options. The contract clock hasn’t started to tick yet, but the unwashed masses of Blackhawk Nation (including this site) are more than a little excited at what the future holds for the shifty Finn, and have been since he unexpectedly fell into Stan Bowman’s lap last June at the Entry Draft.
Because both the current roster and farm system are relatively stocked with talent, the Hawks have some options, which it’s now realistic to examine.
Last year for Jokerit in the Finnish Elite league, Teuvo put up respectable numbers as a child playing with grown ass men, including a number of NHLers during the early part of the SM-Liiga campaign, and specifically Norris winner Erik Karlsson and the now horrifically overpaid Valtteri Filppula on the Jokerit squad. Teuvo notched 31 points in 46 games, and two points in six playoff games. While these numbers don’t really set the world ablaze, they’re far from pedestrian given the disparity of age, and Teravainen even carried a plus rating at +2, for whatever that’s worth as an offensively gifted rookie in a non-NHL league.
By all accounts, it appears that Teravainen will remain with Jokerit for this season, the team’s last in SM-Liiga before moving to the KHL. And though no one will say it, I’m sure the Hawks would like to have him in the fold here at least in Rockford before extracting him from The K becomes a giant asshole hassle.
There would be some upside to bringing him in for this year’s camp and have him spend some time in Rock Vegas however. While the Finnish league is certainly professional and arguably has a higher talent level than the AHL, the game there is different, particularly the size of the ice. And as everyone saw last year with Vladimir Tarasenko, the boards will sneak up on you real quick if you’re used to having more room to operate. And though Teuvo’s game has shown that he seems to thrive in traffic, there will still be a period of adjustment to the North American sheet, especially given how slightly he’s built.
Furthermore, if the Hawks have designs on using his creativity at center (as they do with every prospect they’ve ever had), they have far more control over his usage with the Piggies than they do with Jokerit. He’d also get time getting his sea legs with Mark McNeill and Philip Danault, the Hawks’ two prospects at center from the first round of the 2011 draft.
Either way, it’s a very good thing that the Hawks have got another top flight asset under control for the forseeable future and have options on how to foster his development, which is more than they can say for Stephen Johns at the moment.