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Teuvo Teravainen determined to take game to next level

CHICAGO IL - MARCH 25:  Teuvo Teravainen #86 Chicago Blackhawks participates warm-ups before game against Dallas Stars United Center

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)

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Updated: July 13, 2014 8:40PM



Veteran Brad Richards figures to be a place-holder as the Blackhawks’ second-line center. The team hopes Teuvo Teravainen eventually will make that spot his own.

One would think that bringing in Richards, 34, to occupy the most scrutinized spot in the Hawks’ lineup would take some of the pressure off a young prospect such as Teravainen, 19. But Teravainen apparently doesn’t pay any attention to that stuff — or wouldn’t admit he does after the first day of prospect camp Sunday at Johnny’s IceHouse West.

‘‘I don’t think [about] those things too much,’’ Teravainen said. ‘‘I just focus on myself and try to practice hard. I play where they put me and just try to get good time here and work hard.’’

Teravainen’s ultimate destination appears clear; where he will start next season is the question.

The 18th overall selection in the 2012 draft, Teravainen made his NHL debut March 25 and won all seven faceoffs he took. But he failed to score a point in three games with the Hawks and was sent to Rockford, where he scored twice in five regular-season games.

Would he be better off starting next season in Rockford, or should he start on a lower line with the Hawks?

‘‘Of course, I want to play in the NHL,’’ Teravainen said. ‘‘But if I start in Rockford, I’ll just work hard, play good and be ready all the time.

‘‘[Last season] was a good experience. Had a really long season, played with five or six different teams. Hard season for me, but it was good, too. Got a lot of experience when I came here [to Chicago]. I’m more ready because of that.’’

As Teravainen eyes the NHL, he needs to put on weight. He spent some time leading up to camp in his native Finland, where he estimated he was able to put on ‘‘a couple of kilos,’’ which is about 4½ pounds. He plans to spend the rest of the summer in Chicago.

‘‘Just takes some time, and I’m just a young kid,’’ Teravainen said of adding the strength he’ll need to survive an NHL season. ‘‘It will come.’’

The time off gave Teravainen an opportunity to recharge, but he was glad to be back on the ice. He said it was nice to work with other prospects, many of whom are his age or older. It’s the beginning of an offseason in which he hopes to take his game to another level.

‘‘I feel good, but it’s been time without hockey, so I think my body needs hockey,’’ Teravainen said. ‘‘I’m ready [for] this season. I can’t wait. I can make [it to] a different level. I can play better.’’

Email: sgruen@suntimes.com

Twitter: @SethGruen



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