The trade was much discussed in the NHL and Carolina Hurricanes general manager Ron Francis much praised for pulling it off.
Last June, the Canes acquired forwards Teuvo Teravainen and Bryan Bickell from the Chicago Blackhawks for a pair of draft picks. It was a big move for Francis, especially in getting Teravainen, a young Finn and former first-round draft pick who helped the Blackhawks win the 2015 Stanley Cup.
Bickell won three Cups with the Blackhawks but his play had tailed off substantially. Looking to move the veteran to alleviate a salary-cap squeeze, Chicago had to part with Teravainen as part of the deal.
The result? With the Canes about to play their final home game, hosting the St. Louis Blues on Saturday, Teravainen has had an inconsistent first season with the Canes. Bickell was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in November but has been able to return this week to the Canes’ lineup.
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Asked to assess his season, Teravainen said, “I think I had my ups and downs but I think my overall game is better. It took a little time at the start to get to know the guys and everything. When I got to know everybody and got to know the system, I think I started playing better.
“Of course, everyone has some tough times during the year. But I feel good about myself. I think I’m getting better.”
Teravainen’s numbers this season with the Canes are roughly the same as with the Blackhawks in 2015-16. In 79 games, he has 15 goals and 26 assists and a minus-6 rating for Carolina. In 78 games with the Blackhawks, he had 13 goals and 22 assists, and a minus-2 rating.
Teravainen, 22, has been used on the wing and at center this season. The Helsinki native has had some offensive dry spells – eight games without a point early in the season, seven straight without a point in February – but also had a career-high four points (goal, three assists) against Washington on Nov. 11; a career-best five-game point streak in late-December and early January, and also has set a career high in power-play points (14).
Teravainen, called “Turbo” by his teammates and Canes coach Bill Peters, has at times been overshadowed by the other young Finn in the Canes lineup, Sebastian Aho. The rookie forward, 19, has 23 goals and 25 assists in his first season.
“He’s been great,” Teravainen said. “He didn’t take too long to get to know the league and get comfortable. It’s been fun to play with him.”
Teravainen already has set an offseason goal: more size. At 5-foot-11 and 178 pounds, he’s one of the Canes’ smaller players and can get bumped around in the course of physical, grinding action on the ice.
Teravainen is a quick skater and has a wickedly quick release on his shot. The offensive instincts are there and he’s a responsible defensive player. But size — or lack of it — can be an issue.
“It will be a big summer for me again, to get bigger and stronger again,” he said. “I think I did a good job last summer to get stronger. I feel like I’m better in the little battles and that kind of stuff right now. So I think I’m only going to get better.”
BLUES AT HURRICANES
When: 7 p.m., Saturday
Where: PNC Arena, Raleigh.