Chicago Blackhawks prospect Teuvo Teravainen is ready to play in the NHL, not just ready to star in it, his agent said on Friday.
The Blackhawks announced Thursday they had signed the 18-year-old forward to a three-year entry-level deal. Teravainen was selected by the Blackhawks as the No. 18 overall pick of the 2012 draft.
"He can play in the NHL right now," said Teravainen's agent and Acme World Sports president Markus Lehto in a phone interview from Finland on Friday. "He's not quite ready to play 82 games as a top-6 forward. That's something else for a 19-year-old that's not 200 pounds. Teuvo understands that."
Lehto said Teravainen, who will turn 19 on Sept. 11, will spend this season with Jokerit in Finland's SM-liiga and could join the Blackhawks as early as the end of Jokerit's season. He had 13 goals and 18 assists in 44 regular-season games for Jokerit last season.
Lehto wouldn't go into financial details about Teravainen's contract, but he said the contract included bonuses and was designed for the Blackhawks to not take a significant salary cap hit. Unless Teravainen appears in 10 regular-season games this season, his contract will slide and he won't become a restricted free agent until after the 2016-17 season.
Teravainen will also attend the Blackhawks training camp, which opens on Sept. 12. Lehto thought the camp would be a good test for him.
"Him participating in training camp and probably a few exhibition games will benefit Teuvo and the Blackhawks, too," Lehto said. "It'll show him where he needs to be."
Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman has made it no secret how high he is on Teravainen's potential. Lehto backed up Bowman's optimism.
"I've been doing this for 20 years," Lehto said. "I've seen a lot of Finnish players come to the NHL. I first saw Teuvo when he was 15. I think Teuvo is the most skilled out of all of those players. This doesn't surprise me."