Friday was a good news, bad news kind of day in Chicago. The bad news is that star winger Patrick Kane was placed on long-term injured reserve, meaning he will miss at least the next 24 days and 10 games, likely ending his regular season. The good news for Blackhawks fans is that the team gets some cap flexibility with Kane on LTIR and has called on top prospect Teuvo Teravainen, whose season in Finland's SM-Liiga just wrapped up.
Teravainen is the Blackhawks' first-round pick from the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. He was one of those guys that shockingly tumbled down the draft board and fell into Chicago's lap at No. 18 overall. In the years since, he's grown into one of the top prospects in all of hockey.
The Helsinki native comes with a lot of hype after spending the last three seasons playing in Finland's top pro league and excelling. The 19-year-old center posted 44 points this year in 49 games to lead Jokerit in scoring.
However, he really made his mark on the international stage after captaining Finland to the gold medal at the 2014 World Junior Championship. The super-skilled forward led the tournament with 15 points including an incredible 13 assists in just seven games. He also had 11 points at the 2013 World Juniors.
Blackhawks fans may be even more excited because Teravainen could be the future No. 2 center the team has been lacking for years.
How the young rookie is handled, however, remains a puzzle. The Blackhawks shouldn't be too quick to burn the first of the three years remaining on his entry-level contract, especially with Kane and Jonathan Toews due to become unrestricted free agents after next season. Brandon Saad becomes a restricted free agent at the same time. Teravainen's cap hit would be a mere $925,000, which brings a lot of value in its cheapness.
According to the collective bargaining agreement, if Teravainen plays in 10 games with the Blackhawks, that first year will be burned. There are 12 regular-season contests remaining and playoff games would apply in this scenario.
Can Teravainen make the Blackhawks better right now? His skill suggests that to be a distinct possibility, especially with the Blackhawks' revolving door in the No. 2 center slot. Michal Handzus has struggled in the role, while head coach Joel Quenneville's latest experiment had fourth-liner Ben Smith filling the role for a time. If the Blackhawks think Teravainen can help now, they'll be less concerned about burning that year.
It's hard to know if Teravainen will be ready for such a vital role on the team, but there's a lot of reason to be excited for the dynamic teenager.
Teravainen's arrival does come at a cost, however. Losing Kane definitely hurts and it would be unfair to expect the rookie to fill his shoes right away or ever, really. He might not even have the chance to at this point.
The Blackhawks are jockeying for position in the Central right now, but it looks near impossible for them to catch the St. Louis Blues for the top spot. The most likely scenario is the Hawks finish second or third in the division and play the Colorado Avalanche in the first round of the postseason, which is a tough draw (though it would be a pretty fun series, right?).
Kane's initial prognosis was that he'd be out three weeks. He should have enough time to recover for the postseason. Now that he's on the shelf, the focus will return to Teravainen as the youngster will look to fulfill the hearty hype that surrounds him now.
Like Washington fans salivating over the highly-anticipated arrival of Evgeny Kuznetsov with the Capitals just a few weeks back, this is a day a lot of Hawks fans have been waiting for. No pressure, kid.