Teravainen: ‘My goal is to play in the NHL this season’

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Blackhawks prospect Teuvo Teravainen might not see it as such, but he’s benefitting from the Brad Richards signing.

Teravainen would’ve likely started the season with the Blackhawks; however, after Chicago signed Richards to a one-year $2 million deal on July 1, Teravainen is in the American Hockey League with the Rockford IceHogs.

“Everyone has a different opinion on those things, but I don’t think it’s going to hurt Teuvo,” said IceHogs head coach, Ted Dent. “He’s played at a high level of hockey, but he’s still young and he’s still developing his mental maturity as well as his physical maturity.”

Teravainen came to North America last season appearing in eight games total with both the Blackhawks and IceHogs. He was held pointless in three games with Chicago while scoring two goals in five games with Rockford.

Having a full season to adjust to the North American game will be beneficial for Teravainen and his long term development. The native of Helsinki, Finland is trying to find the positives of starting the year in the AHL, but has eyes on the NHL for this season.

“It’s a chance to get better here,” said Teravainen. “I’m trying to work hard every day and just trying to get better. Of course my goal is to play in the NHL this season. I just need to be ready all the time.”

Teravainen has a goal and two assists through the first five games of the season.

As much as he’s learning the North American game, his Rockford teammates are still learning to play alongside him.

“He’s shifty, he’s quick with the puck and he has those no-look passes,” said Dent. “As a teammate as well for our players are just getting used to him. Sometimes you’re going to get the puck from him, you just never know, he might not be looking at you directly. That’s what stands out for me, just his ability to go side-to-side and shift.”

The 5-foot-10, 185 pound forward is not only learning to adjust on the ice, but off the ice as well.

“This is a new road for me this year,” he said. “I came early this summer to Chicago came to practice all summer and I’m in good shape. I’m getting used to it, this world and this league. Of course living by myself out of my hometown in Finland and Helsinki, obviously it’s a new thing to go into a different world by myself.”

As far as what he’s got to do to be better prepared for the next level, well, there’s a couple things.

“He’s just going to have to learn how to play in tighter areas. Play a more north-south game because it’s smaller rink sizes than he’s used to,” said Dent.

Added Teravainen: “I’ve just got to work hard at both ends of the ice, defensively for sure and of course play with my strengths, which is my offensive game. I think I’m pretty close, but I still have work to do.”

Both the Blackhawks and Teravainen are likely to benefit from his seasoning in the AHL this year.