Don’t let his size fool you.
Though he is listed at a slight 5-foot-11, 160 pounds, Teuvo Teravainen has shown that he can compete alongside the biggest of them.
As just a 17-year-old, Teravainen skated with Jokerit of the top Finnish professional hockey league SM-liiga. He recorded 18 points (11g, 7a) in 40 games after being promoted from Jokerit’s Under-20 team, where he produced 20 points (12g, 8a) in just 11 games. Teravainen was named SM-liiga’s rookie of the year.
“He’s a very skilled player. Very talented and very skilled,” said Tony MacDonald, chief amateur scout for the Hurricanes. “He’s a smart, creative skill guy. He’s a finesse player.”
Sound familiar? Jeff Skinner is listed at just 5-foot-11, but he does pack on an extra 30 pounds, allowing him to make his way to the dirty areas in front of the net. Because of his size, Teravainen tends to play more of a perimeter game; he will likely need to add a bit of strength before being prepared for the National Hockey League, but for his age, his skills are already elite.
Scouts praise his hands, which are among the quickest and shiftiest in the draft. Though he’s small in stature, he uses his speed and puckhandling to weave in and around big defenders. He’s a creative playmaker and has a blistering release on his shot, making him particularly dangerous from inside the top of the faceoff circles.
|HOMETOWN: HELSINKI, FINLAND |
|HEIGHT: 5-11 |
|WEIGHT: 165 |
|BIRTHDAY: SEPT. 11, 1994 (AGE 17) |
“He’s an interesting player to say the least in terms of his talent and projection,” MacDonald said.
Teravainen’s production among mature men in the second-half of the season raised his draft stock immensely. He moved into a top-six role with Jokerit, even playing center in the playoffs where he recorded 2 goals and 4 assists in nine games.
The NHL’s Central Scouting Service took note of this. After ranking Teravainen seventh among European skaters in its midterm ranking set, the CSS elevated him to second in the final report. He’ll now likely be a top-10 selection, even if he still is a year or two away from being NHL-ready.
When talking about Teravainen, MacDonald drew comparisons to Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane who is similar in stature – 5-foot-11, 181 pounds – yet still productive in the NHL; he’s recorded 70 or more points in four of his five seasons. Teravainen has said that Kane, along with Pavel Datsyuk, are his favorite players. He's added that his playing style is more similar to that of Finnish forward Valtteri Filppula.
“You’re hoping to find those players that can get beyond [their size],” MacDonald said. “If they are skilled enough, quick enough and smart enough, it doesn’t have to be a factor.”
That seems to be the case for Teravainen, who, had he been born five days later in 1994, wouldn’t have even been draft-eligible until 2013.
Now, he finds himself poised to be a top selection in Pittsburgh on Friday. Though it’s impossible to predict what the seven teams above Carolina in the draft order will do, it appears likely Teravainen will be available at eighth. A prospect who projects as top-six talent, he would make a wise selection for any of the teams in the top 10 based on his skill set alone.