On Tuesday morning, Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville made it clear that prized prospect Teuvo Teravainen would be added to the team’s roster before the end of the season.
Teravainen is Chicago’s best prospect by a sizable margin, possessing the highest offensive and overall ceiling of any player in the system who is not already a member of the Blackhawks. He has drawn numerous comparisons to Patrick Kane and by all accounts already has comparable on-ice vision to what Chicago’s No. 88 displayed in his own rookie season back in 2007-08.
Having seemingly shored up some of their most glaring deficiencies (particularly the penalty kill and team defense), the Blackhawks have just one obvious issue remaining: the gaping hole at the second line center position. Michal Handzus, who Quenneville has playing there at the moment for reasons unknown, has proven time and time again to brutally drag down his linemates’ offensive efficacy. This has been especially true of Kane, who had not registered a single even-strength goal while on the ice with Handzus until Chicago’s most recent game against the Buffalo Sabres.
Teravainen could be the answer on the second line that the Blackhawks have been searching for during each of the last four seasons. The most important player to the team’s offense is and will always be Kane, and this is why effectively anchoring him with a far below par center is so problematic. With all due respect to Handzus, Andrew Shaw and Marcus Kruger — all three of whom have been tried as the man in the middle with Kane — they simply don’t fit the bill.
The Blackhawks have been somewhat underwhelming in terms of their standings position for quite a while now. The team has been inconsistent since the Olympic break in producing high-quality scoring chances each game, often exploding for five goals one night and generating almost nothing the next. Teravainen represents an extremely talented solution to what has become an extremely obvious problem.