The Carolina Hurricanes absolutely hit the jackpot when they acquired Teuvo Teravainen in 2016.
Despite Teravainen being one of the most promising young forwards in the game, the Blackhawks moved him and Bryan Bickell to Carolina in a cap-clearing deal that netted Chicago a second-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft and a third-round pick in the 2017 draft. The 2016 pick turned out to be Artur Kayumov, a forward who doesn’t look likely to play in the NHL anytime soon, while the 2017 selection was flipped to acquire Tomas Jurco from the Detroit Red Wings. He went on to score 11 points in 42 games with the Blackhawks and has since landed with the Edmonton Oilers this season. So, all told, the swap left Chicago with next to nothing. It doesn’t take a mastermind to realize the Blackhawks got fleeced.
Teravainen, on the other hand, has slowly but surely emerged as one of the NHL’s best playmaking forwards, and his gradual rise earned him a five-year extension worth $5.4-million per season last January. That payday came at a time when the Finnish winger had a respectable 29 assists and 39 points through 48 games. Not bad, but the Hurricanes knew there was more to Teravainen’s game. And this season, we’re seeing it. Exactly one year after putting pen to paper, Teravainen had a team-leading 48 points and entering action Tuesday leads the Hurricanes with 54 points through 55 games. That puts him on pace for a career-best 81 points.
It’s not just that Teravainen is scoring, however. It’s the way he’s piling up points that is impressive. Digging a little deeper, only Leon Draisaitl (18), Nathan MacKinnon (18) and Nikolaj Ehlers (17) have more primary assists than Teravainen at even strength. Teravainen’s Corsi percentage sits at 57.9, good for eighth in the NHL, and that is paired with a 60.6 goals percentage at 5-on-5, the 42nd-highest mark among all players with at least 500 minutes played. Teravainen hasn’t been riding any coattails to get to those marks, either. His 1.65 primary assists-per-60 at all strengths is third in the league behind Jonathan Huberdeau (1.97) and Mitch Marner (1.75), and Teravainen likewise sits third with 1.34 primary assists per 60 minutes at 5-on-5.
Those are high-end numbers for someone who doesn’t get as much hype as teammates Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov. And it sure does mean Teravainen is providing some serious bang for the Hurricanes’ buck.
For reference, CapFriendly’s closest contract comparables for Teravainen include the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Jason Zucker ($5.5 million AAV), Tampa Bay Lightning’s Ondrej Palat ($5.3 million) and Teravainen’s teammate Nino Niederreiter ($5.25 million). As for production, Zucker is on pace for 50 points, Palat in the 55-point range and Niederreiter is trending towards 36 points. Of course, when Teravainen signed the deal, his career high was 64 points in 2017-18 and 42 points the season prior. Thus, Teravainen didn’t have a large body of work to warrant a bigger payday, but there aren’t many players on a post-entry-level deal providing as much value as Teravainen this season. Currently, of the 21 players ahead of Teravainen in scoring who aren’t on an entry-level contracts, only David Perron (53 points at $4-million per season) earns less.
Teravainen is as valuable as it gets in Carolina, too. If you do the math, Teravainen’s cost-per-point is $100,000, $16,379 cheaper than Ryan Dzingel (29 points in 54 games) for the team lead. Among players set to be a UFAs on their next deal, only seven players with at least 50 points are providing better value this season, including superstars David Pastrnak and Nathan MacKinnon, and that’s an impressive group with which to be associated. If Teravainen was set to become a free agent, he would gap the next-highest scoring UFA (a tie between Mike Hoffman and Taylor Hall) by nine points. Given the history of NHL GMs overpaying during weak free-agent market years, one can only imagine what Teravainen would command.
With three consecutive 40-plus assist campaigns and on pace to hit 60 this season, the Hurricanes are getting prime-time numbers at an incredible price, and Teravainen is hitting his stride as Aho and Svechnikov continue to develop into top-line stars. At 25, Teravainen is still young and will be a big factor during the Hurricanes’ contention window – and given the cap flexibility his contract provides, there’s plenty of room for Carolina to hang around in Stanley Cup contention for years to come.
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