Teuvo Teravainen to make NHL debut

Updated: March 25, 2014, 4:09 PM ET
By Scott Powers | ESPNChicago.com

CHICAGO -- Blackhawks forward Teuvo Teravainen, the organization's top prospect, will make his NHL debut against the Dallas Stars on Tuesday.

The 19-year-old Teravainen was recalled from Jokerit in the Liiga in Finland on Thursday. He was a healthy scratch against the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday and Nashville Predators on Sunday.

[+] EnlargeTeuvo Teravainen
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesTeuvo Teravainen, Chicago's first-round pick in 2012, will make his NHL debut on Tuesday against Dallas.

"It's cool," Teravainen said after the team's morning skate at the United Center on Tuesday. "I was always waiting, waiting for this opportunity and now it seems like I'm playing, so it's fun.

"I just try to play to my strengths and just play offense and some good defense, also. Just play hard and play simple, I think that's the key."

Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell (upper-body injury) and Michal Rozsival (lower-body injury) will not play against the Stars. Bickell will miss his third consecutive game, and Rozsival will be out his fifth consecutive game. Bickell participated in the team's morning skate on Tuesday and is close to returning to game action, according to Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville.

Teravainen, who is 5-foot-11, 169 pounds, has been creating a buzz within the organization since he slipped to the Blackhawks at No. 18 in the 2012 draft. He was projected to be a top-10 pick.

Teravainen has only added to the hype since then with his play in his native Finland. He tied for sixth in the Liiga with 44 regular-season points (nine goals and 35 assists in 49 games). He also helped Finland to the gold medal in the World Junior Championship in January by recording 15 points in seven games.

Teravainen was recently ranked No. 4 in ESPN's top 50 NHL prospect rankings. He was the highest Blackhawks player on the list.

Quenneville was able to watch Teravainen play in person during the Blackhawks' training camp and in two preseason games in September.

Quenneville said Tuesday he didn't want to put too much pressure on Teravainen in his debut. Teravainen was on a line with Brandon Saad and Ben Smith during the morning skate.

"We're happy to have him join our team and look forward to seeing him play," Quenneville said. "He's got some ability. He's got some skills. He's got some speed. We'll play him at center and see how it works, but we're excited to have a good look at him here and give him an opportunity.

"I know we don't want to put the weight of the world on his shoulders, knowing he's a young kid. At this time of the year, it's an important two points for both teams. We're looking forward to see him play, but we don't expect him to carry our team on his shoulders."

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews didn't think Teravainen needed much advice going into the game.

"I think for a guy like that, he's a skilled player, just let him play his game," Toews said. "For anyone, I don't care how skilled you are, there's always going to be some nerves when you play your first game, especially with the excitement surrounding him coming in here at this point of the season. Just let him play his game. Don't fill his head with too many things. He'll learn as he goes. I don't think there's too much to be worried about with a player of his caliber."

Teravainen arrived to Chicago from Finland on Thursday. He's since been adapting to living in the United States and being with the Blackhawks.

"It's kind of a new world for me," Teravainen said. "I'm a young kid coming here far away from home and I'm just learning every day and it's fun."

Scott Powers is a general reporter for ESPNChicago.com. He is an award-winning journalist and has been reporting on preps, colleges and pros for publications throughout the Midwest since 1997.

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