Will Teuvo Teravainen Jumpstart the Blackhawks' Struggling Offense?

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistMarch 18, 2014

Finland's Teuvo Teravainen, left, challenges Sweden's Alexander Wennberg during the IIHF World Junior Championship preliminary round group B ice hockey match between Sweden and Finland at Malmo Arena in Malmo, Sweden, Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013.  (AP Photo/TT, Ludvig Thunman)    SWEDEN OUT
Ludvig Thunman/Associated Press

The Blackhawks' next savior is not here yet, and it may be a while before he puts on a Chicago Blackhawks uniform and skates in an NHL game.

However, if Teuvo Teravainen comes to Chicago and the details are worked out, Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune suggests that he could be in uniform for several games or more before the start of the postseason.

The highly skilled Finnish forward may be just what the Blackhawks need to give a boost to their sluggish offense.

The Blackhawks scored four goals and their attack appeared to be coming around when they defeated the Detroit Red Wings 4-1 on March 16.

However, they had been held to two or fewer goals in seven of the previous nine games and the players and fans have been growing increasingly frustrated with the team's lack of consistent production since returning from the Olympic break.

Prior to that time, the Blackhawks appeared to have an excellent chance to repeat as Stanley Cup champions. While nobody is counting them out yet, they don't appear to be the smooth-running machine they were last year or earlier this season.

Bringing in an exciting, explosive player like Teravainen could be just what the Blackhawks need to get their attack running smoothly.

It's not like the 19-year-old is expected to work miracles. However, adding one more talented offensive player to the mix could cause problems for opponents trying to figure out a way to defend the Blackhawks in the offensive zone.

Teravainen, a 5'10", 185-pound center, is suddenly a hot topic in Chicago because his season with the Jokerit team in Finland's SM-Liiga ended on March 16. Teravainen registered nine goals and 35 assists this year for Jokerit, and he also led Finland to the gold medal in the World Junior Championships. Teravainen had two goals and 13 assists in seven games in that tournament.

"We saw what he's capable of in (training camp) and I guess there was some real good progression to his season as well," head coach Joel Quenneville told reporters. "It could happen at some point. Young guys at this time of the year can give you a little bit of a jump."

Teravainen was a dominant offensive threat at the World Juniors and his style was familiar to Quenneville and general manager Stan Bowman. Teravainen was able to maintain possession of the puck for quite a bit of his time on the ice, which gave him the chance to execute and finish plays.

Teravainen has been slated to join the Blackhawks in 2014-15, but it's not unusual for NHL teams to bring in international players late in the season if management thinks they can help.

The Blackhawks brought Marcus Kruger aboard late in the 2010-11 season and he played seven regular-season games for them before competing in the playoffs. Teravainen appears to have far more offensive upside than Kruger.

Even though Chicago has not been putting the puck in the net that in the manner that Quenneville, Bowman and Blackhawks fans have grown accustomed to, the team doesn't want to put too much pressure on a player who is not even in uniform yet.

From a business perspective, CapGeek.com indicates that Teravainen has signed a three-year contract with the Blackhawks. However, that contract does not start "tolling" until he plays in the regular season.

If Teravainen were to play in the 2013-14 regular season, he would only have two years left on the contract. If he does not play, the Blackhawks would have his rights locked up through the 2016-17 season.

That business influence is not likely to prevent Teravainen from joining the Blackhawks, though. He is a slick and creative player who could be just what the Blackhawks need to get their offense going at full speed at the most crucial time of the year.