Forward Teuvo Teravainen's path to a full-time, top-six role just got a whole lot clearer -- and his fantasy ceiling consequently got a whole lot higher.
The Chicago Blackhawks traded the 21-year-old forward, along with Bryan Bickell, to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for two NHL Draft picks, one of which was acquired by the Hurricanes in the Eric Staal trade to the New York Rangers on Feb. 28. This trade adds a highly-skilled playmaker to an already young core for Carolina, who quietly finished 10th out of 16 teams in the Eastern Conference this season.
The Finland native is a versatile asset who has experience at the NHL level playing center and wing. He saw inconsistent top-six and power-play usage in 115 regular-season and 25 Stanley Cup Playoff games in his career with the Blackhawks, but still showcased his raw offensive potential.
The highlight of his tenure with the Blackhawks was scoring 10 points in 18 playoff games en route to a Stanley Cup championship in 2015. He burned the Tampa Bay Lightning for four points (two goals, two assists) in six Stanley Cup Final games.
Teravainen was drafted on average with the 163rd pick in Yahoo drafts last season and finished 418th in its performance-based, end-of-season rankings. But let's throw that data out the window after the trade, which should be a game-changer for Teravainen.
Video: CHI@VAN: Blackhawks move the puck, Teravainen scores
He instantly becomes the new face of the Hurricanes offense and should round out a line with either Jordan Staal and Elias Lindholm or Jeff Skinner and Victor Rask. Four of Carolina's top five scorers this season, including defenseman Justin Faulk, are 24 or younger. Jordan Staal, tied for second on the team in scoring with 48 points, is 27, and, like Teravainen, has a Stanley Cup title under his belt (with Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009).
Teravainen scored a career-best 35 points in 78 games in 2015-16, but his production tailed off in the postseason (no goals, one assist in seven games). That said, his regular-season power-play production (nine power-play points) was noteworthy despite limited usage per game (1:45) in such situations. He saw stints on the Blackhawks' first power-play unit, but was far from a mainstay in that group.
Though the Hurricanes are a sizable step back talent-wise from the Blackhawks, Carolina's youth movement is encouraging fantasy-wise. When you consider Staal scored 33 points in his final 42 games of the season, Jeff Skinner (28 goals) resembled the 30-goal scorer he was earlier in his career, and Victor Rask had a career-high 48 points (18 on power play), there are plenty of budding options for Teravainen to work with.
Video: TOR@CHI: Teravainen rips it past Reimer
Teravainen should stick with a combination of those young forwards in all situations, and Hurricanes coach Bill Peters will likely rely on him heavily from a puck-possession standpoint.
Carolina had the ninth-best Shot Attempts Percentage Close (51.48) in the regular season, the best among non-playoff teams. Teravainen's Shot Attempts ratio (plus-42) was fifth among Blackhawks forwards in the regular season behind Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Artemi Panarin and Jonathan Toews.
Teravainen, a borderline top 200 fantasy player at the conclusion of the regular season, now warrants selection in the first 12 rounds (144 picks) of standard-league drafts and is a glaring breakout candidate for the 2016-17 season.