In case you missed it going up quietly in the middle of the afternoon on Monday, I started down the path of posting individual player evaluations, ‘report cards’ if you will, for the 2016-17. First up was Victor Rask who you can find HERE.
Today’s report is for Teuvo Teravainen and is part of a grouping of Hurricanes forwards in the second half of the top 9.
Teuvo Teravainen’s starting point with the Chicago Blackhawks
Teuvo Teravainen became a Hurricane on June 15, 2016 when he was acquired as the centerpiece of a deal with the Chicago Blackhawks that saw Hurricanes general manager Ron Francis give up two draft picks (second and third-rounders) and also take on Bryan Bickell’ $4 million salary to give the Blackhawks some salary cap flexibility.
Teravainen arrived as an experienced NHL forward who had logged 115 games in about one and a half seasons at the NHL level despite being only 21 years old when acquired. In Chicago, Teravainen had shown promise and flashes of potential to be a good NHL scorer but had yet to put it all together. He had bounced up and down in the lineup between tremendous opportunities with elite scorers lesser roles in the bottom half of the roster. His 2015-16 total of 35 points in 78 games represented reasonable depth scoring but not the numbers of a top 6 forward. Along the way, his Teravainen’s expected role as a young skill player to play in Blackhawks top 6 was assumed by Artemi Panarin when he burst onto the scene with 77 points for the 2015-16 season.
The combination of Panarin’s emergence and Chicago’s salary cap challenges made Teravainen expendable as part of the deal that was a necessary evil aimed primarily at buying the Blackhawks some financial breathing room. When acquired, Teravainen had the potential to reach a higher level scoring-wise (no doubt what interested Francis) but had yet to reach it.
Teuvo Teravainen’s 2016-17 season with the Carolina Hurricanes
Even before arriving in Raleigh, Coach Bill Peters talked about initially trying Teuvo Teravainen both at center and at wing on a young line with Elias Lindholm and Sebastian Aho. That line started together in preseason, played much of training camp together, posted a couple solid preseason game efforts and looked primed to attack the NHL once the season started.
The Aho/Tervainen/Lindholm line’s success in preseason did not carry over into the regular season. Teravainen collected a goal and an assist on a Hurricanes power play that started hot, but otherwise he registered only a single goal and no assists through the first 12 games of the 2016-17 season. Somewhere along the way, some line shuffling ignited Teravainen’s season in mid-November. His break out game in a Hurricanes uniform came on November 14, 2016 when he and fellow countryman Sebastian Aho bookended veteran Jordan Staal. The line was dominant in a thrilling 5-1 win over the Washington Capitals and Teravainen collected a goal and three assists in the game. That game launched a short scoring burst that saw Teravainen 3 goals and 4 assists in 5 games in the middle of November, but he quickly cooled again and those were the only points he would tally in November including an 8-game pointless drought that stretched into December.
That first one-third of the season ultimately proved to be fairly representative of Teravainen’s 2016-17 campaign in total. He mustered an occasional short scoring burst but also logged scoring droughts of 5 games, 8 games and 7 games twice. He had good games with a variety of line mates, but never really jelled with anyone on an extended basis. March was Tervainen’s most productive month with 12 points in 17 games, but he followed that up with only a single point in 6 games in April. Interestingly, his quarterly scoring totals showed consistency with 10, 11, 10 and 11 points in each of the 4 quarters of the season, but I think part of that is just the 5-8-game droughts landing nicely. Throughout it all, Teravainen was a productive player with the man advantage finishing third on the team in power play goals with 5 and tied for second in power play points with 15.
When one adds it all up, Teravainen played a regular role in the Hurricanes top 9 forwards and offered some flexibility playing both center and wing. His 15 goals and 42 points in 81 games are not earth-shattering, but they represent solid depth scoring that ranked him sixth on the team and helped boost the Hurricanes scoring depth to 7 players with 40 or more points compared to only 3 for the 2015-16 season. He was a decent if not great top 9 forward who chipped in reasonable depth scoring. Not to be underestimated is Teravainen’s ability to make a fairly seamless transition to a new team and system even with a training camp significantly shortened by his participation in the World Cup tournament. Might he hit the ground running in 2017-18 and find that higher gear?
Grading Teuvo Teravainen
Graded as: Top 9 scoring forward.
Grade: B. He was serviceable in his role and not really more or less than that. He did provide scoring and was good on the power play, but in total he never found the higher level that is hoped for and will enter the 2017-18 season still seeking it.
Looking forward to 2017-18 for Teuvo Teravainen
I think it is fair to say that Teuvo Teravainen is almost exactly where he was at this time last season. He is an experienced NHL forward despite his young age, is at least serviceable as a top 9 and has shown flashes of the high-end potential that made him the 18th overall draft pick in the 2012 NHL draft. But he has yet to find a higher gear that makes him significantly more than a decent top 9 forward who is power play-capable.
Interestingly, I think the exact same could have been said about Elias Lindholm entering his fourth season before the 2016-17 season. Here is hoping that the fourth year proves to be an acceleration point for Teravainen just as it was for Lindholm.
I see two areas for improvement for Teravainen. First is game to game, shift to shift consistency. Again, like Lindholm prior to the second half of the 2016-17 season, Teravainen showed sparks and they were hot enough when they popped up. But they were too infrequent with long stretches of multiple games even when he was invisible. In that vein, Teravainen could benefit from finding more ways to be noticeable more regularly even on nights when it is a bit of a grind and the offense is not coming naturally.
In addition, I think Teravainen could benefit from tightening up his game in terms of puck management with the puck on his stick. Everyone has an occasional turnover, but Teravainen had too many of that directly followed a poor decision to try to do too much in high risk/low reward situation (i.e. trying to beat a forechecker with a fancy move coming out of the defensive zone instead of moving the puck forward and living to fight another day). This is especially critical if he finds himself next to Jordan Staal especially at home where Staal’s line is regularly matched up against the opponents’ most dangerous scorers who will quickly capitalize on turnovers.
Ideal role for 2017-18: As a restricted free agent whose next contract should be a reasonable $2 – 2.8 million per season, Teravainen is fine as a 40-point third line type forward like he was in 2016-17, but the offensive upside still in his game would be a welcome addition as the Hurricanes try to boost scoring in 2017-18. I do not think 60 points is out of the question for Teravainen which would be a bargain for his next contract, but he has to figure out how to get there.
What say you Hurricanes fans?
Do you agree with my B grade?
Do you think the 2016-17 version of Teuvo Teravainen (which is good in a depth kind of way) is it? Or do you think he does have that higher gear and will find it?
Where do you see him slotting on the 2017-18 team? Do you like him better at wing or center? With which line mates?