Teravainen's NHL arrival was obviously something the Blackhawks fan base had been looking forward to ever since he was assigned to the Rockford IceHogs out of training camp. But while Teravainen and many fans were disappointed to see him begin the season in the AHL, the Blackhawks always believed it was best for the 20-year-old native of Finland to get more North American playing experience.
Now, with Teravainen having spent three months and 30-plus games in the AHL and Kris Versteeg going down with an injury Thursday, the Blackhawks feel their top prospect is ready for the NHL.
"He's in a better spot than he was at the beginning of the season with his game," IceHogs coach Ted Dent said Friday. "I think everyone's agreed he's making strides in the right direction and has gotten better over the last month. He's played at a higher level.
"I think you lose Kris Versteeg, a highly skilled forward, they're looking to replace Versteeg with some skill. It's 'Turbo time.'"
Dent and IceHogs associate head coach Mark Osiecki worked with Teravainen over the past few months to get him more accustomed to maneuvering with and without the puck on the smaller North American ice rink. They pushed him to compete harder for the puck. They played him in all situations, including on the power play and penalty kill.
"He's played in 32, 33 games for us out of 35," Dent said. "He's gotten some games under his belt. He's gotten used to everything, style of play, when he has time in certain situations, when he has to move the puck, when he's going to get pressured on the power play. I'm sure he's learning."
One area in which Dent didn't have to do a whole lot of teaching -- one that should benefit Teravainen with Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville -- is his defense.
"Defensively, he's been good away from the puck with his recognition of where to be, his stick placement, his angles," Dent said. "He's really cognizant of when to help on defense and get back at times."
Teravainen is likely to remain at center even though Versteeg's injury opens a wing spot. Teravainen has played most of his career at center -- and played only there with the IceHogs. It's possible Andrew Shaw could move over to the right wing, and Teravainen could center the third line with Shaw and Bryan Bickell. Shaw has played the wing in the past.
Teravainen could also see some power-play time at the point. He played 5 minutes, 19 seconds on the power play in the Blackhawks' final preseason game and had a secondary assist on a power-play goal.