The Hawks’ world has been a bit abuzz today, as Joel Quenneville in an interview on The Score let it slip that the Hawks plan to bring Teuvo Teravainen over from Finland as soon as season with Jokerit ends to “give him a look.”
Here are the pertinent details. Jokerit has two more games this week in their regular season. They’re currently tied for 6th. In SM-Liiga, the top six automatically go into the quarterfinals while the 7th-10th placed teams have a mini-playoff for the last two spots in the quarters. Those preliminary playoffs are best-of-three, and I assume they start a couple days after the regular season ends. If Jokerit slips into 7th, conceivably Teuvo could be on his way to the States by next Friday. If they stay in sixth, the quarterfinals on through are best-of-seven, and it could be an additional week or month before Teuvo is free of Jokerit responsibilities. I have no idea what kind of threat they’re considered in the playoffs, and I haven’t seen what anyone else thinks either.
The murkier story is what “get a look” actually means. Is he just going to practice with the Hawks as a Black Ace? Is he going to Rockford for their playoff push? Is he going to get a few games with the Hawks to see if he can help in the playoffs? Or is he going the full monty as soon as he arrives a la Marcus Kruger? I don’t think anyone knows for sure.
My gut tells me he’ll practice for a week or so, and just might squeeze into a game or two, especially if the Hawks are entrenched in a certain spot in the division. If he looks good in those games, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s an option in the playoffs but not an automatic play.
The obstacles are clear. Has he ever played on a NHL-sized rink? It’s an adjustment. At his size, is he really ready to physically battle through the gauntlet that is late-season and playoff NHL hockey? Can he handle center in this league right away or will he be shifted out to a wing to ease the transition?
The skills are there for all to see. The hands and vision are most certainly NHL-level now. He’s a pretty good skater too, maybe he can get himself out of trouble often enough to be an asset right away. You dream of slotting him between Sharp and Hossa, the two wingers most able to make up for the physical and defensive shortcomings that Teuvo most certainly is going to have. You get giddy at the idea it will work, leaving Saad-Toews-Kane to simply tear a hole in the world on the top line. But it seems a longshot.
I don’t think there’s any question that TiVo Targaryn is going to be a productive NHL-er and quite possibly more. And it’s probably not all that far down the road. But I think the idea of him contributing this year should be more in the “hope” category than “expectation.”
But if he can help, he can help. The Hawks aren’t in the development business, at least not at this level. As I repeatedly said at the deadline, the only shot at the Cup the Hawks are guaranteed is this one right here. If Teuvo can aid in that, he should play, whatever mess his contract clock starting would create down the road. I’m excited to get our first look at Tivo in red. I’m just not holding my breath it’s going to mean all that much this season.
Update: Jokerit only has one game left, and that’s Thursday. I can’t seem to find any info on when the preliminary playoffs would begin if Jokerit are in them. I suppose if they biff it Teuvo could be on a plane by Tuesday or Wednesday.