Teravainen leaves Hawks wanting more

CHICAGO -- Sick, filthy, great and fantastic were among the words used on Twitter to describe a certain Chicago Blackhawks player’s stick-handling skills on Thursday.

Can you guess who?

The answer isn’t Patrick Kane. Teuvo Teravainen was the one lighting up Twitter with a handful of moves normally only seen from Kane.

But just as the Blackhawks and their fans were getting excited by a taste of the 19-year-old Teravainen’s skills, he’s leaving them.

Teravainen is scheduled to board a plane on Friday and head home to Finland. His stay with the Blackhawks was always planned to last just the start of training camp and two preseason games. He’ll spend this season with Jokerit in Finland’s SM-liiga and could be back to Chicago as early as April. If not this season, Teravainen is expected to be a full-time Blackhawk next season.

Whenever Teravainen does return, he’ll have plenty of people happy to greet him again.

“The exciting thing is just seeing what the potential for him is,” Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said on Thursday. “He just turned 19 a week or so ago. He’s got a bright future, so we’re excited.”

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville didn’t hold back on testing Teravainen throughout the past few weeks. He used Teravainen to replace Jonathan Toews, who was injured, at center on the top line alongside Patrick Kane and Bryan Bickell. Teravainen played with and against top players.

Teravainen displayed an all-around game during the stint. He created scoring chances for himself and others by skating into open space and using speed and stick-handling skills. He also showed he sees the ice well and found open teammates He was also defensive minded and had five takeaways in the two games. He had a rough night on faceoffs on Tuesday losing 9-of-15, but he bounced back and won 9-of-16 on Thursday. He even beat Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby for the opening faceoff on Thursday.

Quenneville came away impressed by Teravainen.

“I thought he had some really good stretches in games,” Quenneville said after Thursday’s game. “The consistency is something, putting it all together, it’s going to be fun watching him grow. I think offensively he’s as smooth as can be. Defensively, he’s got a real good mindset of keeping himself in the play in all zones. You would expect him to just keep getting better, bigger and stronger and more effective. I liked what I saw in his camp.”

Teravainen's agent, Markus Lehto, has seen Teravainen play as much as nearly anyone and thought Teravainen held his own against NHL players, but there was definitely room for improvement. Lehto believed going back to Finland now would help Teravainen in those needed areas.

“He's experiencing those things where he needs to get better, stronger,” said Lehto, who is based in Chicago. “Just watching him on faceoffs, he knows himself. He’s mad at himself because he’s losing way too many faceoffs. He knows where to get better.

“Then the adjustment, I’m not [saying] is going to be easier, but it will be a little different [when he returns to Chicago.] When you’ve been here, you know the guys, you know the coaches, you know the system, so I think this has been really, really good for Teuvo. He can really benefit from this and move forward, and it’s really a life experience.”

Teravainen described his time with the Blackhawks nearly the same.

“I think it’s a big experience for me,” Teravainen said. “I have grown a little bit now. I think I’m ready next year.”

The Blackhawks will be ready for him then, too.