CHICAGO -- Teuvo Teravainen is finally in the United States for good.
Teravainen, the Chicago Blackhawks’ top prospect, arrived in Chicago from Finland this weekend for the organization’s prospect camp, which opened on Sunday, and plans to stay throughout the summer and into next season.
Teravainen was a frequent flyer last season. He began at training camp with the Blackhawks in September, left later in the month for Finland to play for Jokerit in the Liiga, played in the World Junior Championship in Sweden in January, rejoined the Blackhawks after his Liiga season in March, finished the regular season in the AHL with the Rockford IceHogs and returned to Finland in April to try out for the World Championship.
Teravainen wasn’t sure whether he’d start next season in the NHL or the AHL, but he was certain he’d remain in the United States.
“Going to stay here for practice, not going to go back and forth,” Teravainen said at Johnny’s IceHouse West on Sunday. “Yeah, just practice here and be ready for the season. A lot of travel when I go back and forth. Better to stay here and practice in one place and with [Paul Goodman,] the strength coach. I think it’s good.”
Adding weight and muscle to his frame will be one of Teravainen’s priorities this offseason. He said Sunday he’s already put on close to five pounds in the last few months. The Blackhawks listed him at 5-foot-11 and 179 pounds on their prospect camp roster.
Experience is the other focal point for Teravainen. He got a taste of the NHL last season, but still won’t turn 20 until Sept. 11. Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman has said repeatedly he doesn’t want to rush Teravainen, and that will likely be the case next season after Bowman signed Brad Richards this offseason to play second-line center.
Teravainen said he hadn’t thought about what Richards’ signing meant for him.
“I don’t think about those things too much,” Teravainen said. “Just focus on myself and try to practice hard. I play where they put me and just try to get a good time here and work hard.
“Of course, I want to play in the NHL but if I start in Rockford, I’ll just work hard, play good and be ready all the time.”
Teravainen was ready to get to back to work on Sunday after taking a break from the game.
“I feel good, but it’s been [some] time without hockey so I think my body needs hockey,” Teravainen said. “I’m ready for this season. I can’t wait.”