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Teravainen shows his time might not be far off

Sunday, 07.15.2012 / 8:36 PM / News
By Brian Hedger  - NHL.com Correspondent
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Teravainen shows his time might not be far off
Dynamic 17-year old Finnish forward Teuvo Teravainen, the Chicago Blackhawks\' first-round pick last month, might not be far from playing in the NHL.

CHICAGO -- Those who attended the Chicago Blackhawks prospects camp this summer might wonder what dynamic 17-year old Finnish forward Teuvo Teravainen would do against older, more experienced players in training camp.

However, any answers about how he'll stack up will have to wait. Teravainen, who doesn't turn 18 until Sept. 11, is headed back to Finland to get stronger while playing another season with Jokerit Helsinki of SM-Liiga.

Teravainen, however, certainly left a good impression at the Hawks' week-long prospects camp, which featured all four of the center prospects Chicago has selected in the past three NHL Drafts, including Teravainen, the No. 18 pick in 2012.

"I think Teuvo has shown in a short amount of time here that he's got incredible talent, but he's not even 18 years old yet," Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said Friday, the last day of camp. "It's great to see a young kid like Teuvo be as good as he is. He's the youngest kid at the camp here, and I think he's probably been one of the best kids all week."

Teravainen tied for the scoring lead during three scrimmages at the prospects camp by scoring two goals and adding two assists while playing a lot of center. He definitely looked like he belonged with some of the older prospects, many of whom had gone through at least one prospects camp before.

"That bodes well for the future," said Bowman, who happily snagged Teravainen in the first round after a long run of defense prospects caused the Finn to drop from where he was projected to go among the top picks. "He's going to be a special player, for sure, so it's exciting."

The question now becomes: How far into the future are we talking about?

Based on what was said this week, the wait might not be that long for Teravainen or the other top center prospects the Hawks have collected through recent drafts -- Mark McNeill (No. 18 in 2011), Phillip Danault (No. 26 in 2011) and Kevin Hayes (No. 24 in 2010).

"The timeframe on that you don't really know, but it's exciting to see them here," Bowman said. "They've got great talents. Some of them are offensive players, like (Teravainen) is, and then you've got players like McNeill, Danault and Kevin Hayes that are maybe bigger guys who play a different game. We've got a lot of options there, depending on how you want to play it. I think we've seen in the last couple drafts we've gotten some guys who are going to be high-end players. Some of them aren't too far away, which is a good thing for us."

Teravainen has already put himself solidly among that group, if not right at the top.

Teravainen (5-foot-10, 169 pounds) has said that similarly sized Hawks star forward Patrick Kane is his favorite player, and it showed in his offensive game. Capable of playing all three forward positions, Teravainen played mostly center in three camp scrimmages and excelled.

He's offensively focused, also like Kane, but the skill set is so intriguing, it makes any defensive issues seem less critical in the grand scheme. And for what it's worth, it sounds like Teravainen is intent on improving all areas of his game -- especially his strength.

"It's my dream to play here (in the NHL)," Teravainen said. "It's so much work. I need so much work before (the) NHL is going to happen for me. I think I need to play in Finland (at least) one more year in a big role and with men there. It's a very hard season coming for me and a big season."

It just won't include the Blackhawks, in all likelihood.

"Teuvo's going to go back to Finland, so he's not going to be here (at training camp)," Bowman said. "But he's not that far away from being an NHL player. He's just got to get a little bit of strength, which will come in time. He's a great kid and he's got that special flair for making special plays. He's a lot of fun to watch."