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Teravainen Eager to Grow with Canes

by Michael Smith / Carolina Hurricanes
Teuvo Teravainen arrived in North America in 2014 to great fanfare. He won a Stanley Cup in his rookie season, helping to lead the Chicago Blackhawks to a 2-1 Game 1 win in the Final with a goal and assist in the third period. In 2015-16, his first full season in the NHL, Teravainen tallied 35 points (13g, 22a) in 78 games.

This from a player who will be all of 22 years old in September and is entering into the last season of his entry-level contract. Needless to say, the Carolina Hurricanes were thrilled with the haul of Wednesday’s trade that brought Teravainen and Bryan Bickell to Raleigh in exchange for two draft picks.

“In a lot of your conversations when you’re trying to find a good, young forward, everybody wants a good, young defenseman back,” said Hurricanes Executive Vice President and General Manager Ron Francis. “The beauty of this deal is we’re able to do it and not take away from our back-end we have right now.”

For his part, Teravainen was admittedly a bit surprised when the news came through.

“I was a little shocked. You never know what’s going to happen, and I kind of didn’t expect myself to move,” he said in a phone interview from Finland. “At the same time, I think it’s a great thing for me to get in to Carolina. There are a lot of great young players and a couple of Finns, as well. I’m pretty excited.”

The Hurricanes are excited, too. Teravainen has immense potential and immediately upgrades the playmaking ability of the Hurricanes’ forward grouping.

“He’s a young, really, really skilled forward. Last year he got really tested in defensive role and on different lines, and I think he did great,” Bickell said of his teammate. “He’s a nifty little player who can make plays out of nothing.”

“We feel that this is a real good young player with a big upside,” Francis said. “I think it’s a good opportunity for him to grow and develop.”

Just four years ago, Teravainen was selected 18th overall by the Blackhawks in the 2012 NHL Draft. The Hurricanes traded their eighth overall pick to Pittsburgh, a component of the transaction that brought Jordan Staal to Carolina, but Teravainen was among those considered as a possible draft selection.

“I remember discussions with our scouts, and they loved him,” said Francis, who was then the Canes’ Vice President of Hockey Operations. “Great hockey sense, great skillset, skates well. He was somebody that they really thought highly of in that draft. It didn’t happen for us, and Chicago was probably surprised to get him at 18 when they did.”

After skating with Jokerit for a third season in 2013-14, he made the trek over to North America and played a handful of games in the NHL and AHL before the season’s end. He split the 2014-15 campaign between Rockford of the American Hockey League and Chicago. Teravainen tallied 10 points (4g, 6a) in 18 playoff games, en route to the Blackhawks’ third Stanley Cup championship in six seasons.

“It was an unbelievable season,” Teravainen recalled. “When I got called up, I played OK, but after a couple games under my belt I was getting better and better. I think I got better in the playoffs. … It was really a dream come true for me to go all the way and win the Stanley Cup in my first season. That’s the amazing thing about it.”

The 2015-16 campaign marked Teravainen’s first full NHL season, and his 35 points ranked him seventh on the team in scoring.

“I think it was a good season. I had some ups and downs like our team had, too. Overall, I think my game’s getting better, and I’m getting stronger,” he said. “I played in a lot of different situations – first line, second, third, fourth line. Winger, center. I was all over the place. I think it was good for me.”

Where he fits in with the Hurricanes will be explored in training camp. Francis said he doesn’t yet have a preference whether Teravainen plays wing or center, and neither does Teravainen; it’s still simply hockey to him.

“I think the fact that he can play center or left right or right wing gives us some flexibility,” Francis said. “I think we have some flexibility with guys to move some things around, and that’s something that Bill (Peters) and the staff will decide as we get into camp and get comfortable with how things look.”

Before Teravainen arrives in Raleigh at Hurricanes training camp, he’ll compete with Team Finland at the World Cup of Hockey. Also named to that team: Sebastian Aho, a highly-touted Finnish prospect who is expected to play a role with the Hurricanes as early as this season.

“I’ve seen him play in the under-20 tournament (World Juniors) and the World Championship,” Teravainen said of Aho. “He’s a really smart kid, so I’m looking forward to maybe playing with him.”

On Wednesday, Teravainen got to speak with both Francis and head coach Bill Peters, who expressed excitement about his addition to the team. And after processing the initial shock of the trade, Teravainen, too, is eager to grow with the Hurricanes.

“There’s a lot of opportunity to take that next step and play my own game,” Teravainen said. “Maybe I can get a little bigger role on this team because in Chicago there were a lot of star players ahead of me. I think it’s a really good fit for me.”

Michael Smith
MICHAEL SMITH is the Web Producer for the Carolina Hurricanes.

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