On Monday morning, the Carolina Hurricanes announced that the team had extended Teuvo Teravainen for five years at $5.4 million per year.

Scroll down a bit for more details if you already read my initial reaction on Twitter:


The deal itself

The term and price are very fair in today’s NHL. William Nylander is a couple years younger and might arguably have a bit more upside because of that, but if you simply look at them head to head for the 2017-18 season, Teravainen had 64 points to Nylander’s 61 with Teravainen having an edge in terms of power play scoring (20 points to 12) and Nylander an edge otherwise (49 points to 44). When one considers how much better Toronto’s offense was in 2017-18, the gap could be considered a tiny bit higher in Teravainen’s favor. Both are similarly good second tier/complementary type players who are capable of playing and excelling with elite talent but are probably a notch short of that level. One could have a good debate about which player is better, but on the Canes side, you have to feel good about getting Teravainen signed for 5 years at a $1.6 million yearly discount to Nylander’s $6.96 million. Similarly, when one considers the price to add a top 6 player via free agency,  Evander Kane at $7 million, James Neal at $5.75 million and James van Riemsdyk at $7 million show how difficult and costly that can be.

When I net it out, I view Teravainen as being a good, proven second tier top 6 forward. Players in that category right now seem to converge around $6 million for salary with the range starting to creep up to $7 million as evidenced by Nylander’s contract and also two of the unrestricted free agents mentioned. As such, I would not say that the Hurricanes received a huge discount on Teravainen’s contract, but I think it is firmly in the right range and on the low end of it.


Fit, role and plus points for fit with the Hurricanes and Sebastian Aho

In addition, to simple analysis of the price relative to outside players, I think the deal is an incredibly good one for the Hurricanes in terms of cementing part of the core. Because of his fit and chemistry with Sebastian Aho, Teravainen brings more value to the Canes than he might to another team where he was just chucked into the forward mix. His uncanny ability to share the same brain with Aho especially off the rush plays a significant role in Aho’s ability to carry the puck into the offensive zone by using spacing and passing to make room instead of more of sheer power and speed that bigger centers use to make their own space. In addition, from a starting point where he generally did well but was plagued by too many occasional lapses defensively, Teravainen has quietly matured into a solid two-way forward. The result is that Teravainen fits well with Aho as two-thirds of a legitimate first scoring line but is also well-rounded enough that when the two are occasionally separated he can play other roles on different lines.


Low downside risk

Any contract north of $3 million that has term more than two years has term risk to it no matter how great it seems when signed. Canes fans need only look back a couple years to see Scott Darling and Victor Rask’s contracts to validate this assertion. But as far as risk goes, Teravainen’s deal would rate only 2 or 3 out of 10 for downside risk. First, Teravainen is an established NHLer at this point. With four and half seasons under his belt, Teravainen’s floor if things go badly is probably still that of a good third line player who leans offense and is power play-capable. That floor is not worth $5.4 million per year, but the gap would be manageable even worst case scenario. Though upside projections and the contract price itself will garner the headlines and most attention over the next few days, the limited downside risk to keep another forward in the mix is actually what I like most about the deal.


The next level?

While the current price to production math is favorable and the limited downside risk is also a plus, I think the Holy Grail is if Teravainen who is now locked in at $5.4 million per year can find one more higher gear. His 2018-19 season thus far has been quietly and under the radar good, but I would not say that he has been spectacular. He is somewhat quietly on target for a similar mid-60s points without truly finding a higher gear in my opinion. With Aho now entrenched at the center position, I continue to think that the next step up for Teravainen could simply require shifting to more of a goal scorer’s mindset. I think he has the skill set to shoot and score more but at times can be hindered by a natural pass first leaning. Could a tiny bit more greediness and playing with a goal of scoring 35-40 goals by itself be the difference? Might the duo take another step up together as Aho continues to improve as a center and carries the first line higher? Are they still in search of a complementary third (Niederreiter? Ferland?) who can help propel the first line up among the top lines in the entire NHL? With Teravainen now signed for five years and Aho up next, Canes fans will see this play out in the coming years.


What say you Canes fans?


1) What do you think about Teuvo Teravainen’s contract today?


2) Where do you see him fitting into the Hurricanes lineup long-term, and what role does he need to play to help Hurricanes find team success?


Go Canes!


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