CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 25: Teuvo Teravainen #86 of the Chicago Blackhawks participates in warm-ups before a game against the Dallas Stars at the United Center on March 25, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Updated: April 3, 2014 11:45PM
The Blackhawks made it clear when they brought Teuvo Teravainen over from Finland that they weren’t expecting him to be a difference-maker right away, to light up the scoreboard and carry the team into the playoffs. And he hasn’t.
The highly regarded 19-year-old rookie has done exactly what you’d expect. He has looked very good at times. He has looked a little overmatched at other times. It’s a learning process for any young player, even a top prospect.
In three games, he hasn’t had a point. But in his most recent outing, Sunday at Pittsburgh, he had four shots on goal as he started to look a little more comfortable. He was scratched for the game Thursday against Minnesota but could play Friday in Columbus.
“He’s been OK,” coach Joel Quenne-ville said after the morning skate Thursday. “I think he’ll just get better with time just watching. As we go along here, it’ll be a good education for him, a good process in getting acclimated to what’s needed at this level.”
At 5-11, 169 pounds, one concern is that Teravainen’s not physically ready for the NHL just yet.
“He’s not a big guy, but you grow with time and experience, and [learn] how to put yourself in position where you’re not vulnerable, and you can still play to your strengths,” Quenneville said. “You start learning the league and players, as well, and you become more familiar with where to go and how to avoid certain situations.”
Quenneville said he wasn’t sure whether Teravainen would stick with the Hawks as a role player or as a Black Ace (along for the ride in the playoffs but not playing) or if he’d go to Rockford for the AHL playoffs, which would allow him to keep adjusting to the North American style of play without burning a year of his entry-level contract.
It’s clear Teravainen has the tools to become a big contributor. But it’s probably not going to happen right away. And with five other centers on the roster even with Jonathan Toews injured, the Hawks can afford to take their time with their most prized prospect.