He hadn't yet stepped on a scale at Blackhawks prospect camp so Teuvo Teravainen wasn't sure how much weight he has gained this summer — just that he has added bulk to a body that is still in the process of becoming NHL-ready.
The 19-year-old Finnish center ventured a guess of "maybe a couple of kilos" when pressed for how much he has tacked on to his 5-foot-11 frame since the end of last season. For those not familiar with the conversion rate, two kilos means Teravainen would be carrying around about 4 1/2 more pounds these days. At the end of last season, he was listed at 169 pounds and on the current camp roster it's 176.
Why such a weighty discussion of Teravainen's size? It's clear the flashy forward has the skills to take the next step in his career and perhaps the only thing that could keep him from securing a spot on the Hawks' 2014-15 roster would be not being sturdy enough to handle the rigors of playing in the NHL.
"I've had a good summer this far," Teravainen said Sunday following the first day of Hawks prospects camp at Johnny's IceHouse West. "I've tried to practice hard and get some weight on me and get stronger and get ready for next season. I need some good weight. More muscles, that kind of weight."
Teravainen's readiness for the NHL is the No. 1 storyline at the camp that runs through Friday and will be weighing on the minds of the Hawks brass and the team's fans as training camp approaches in mid-September. With that in mind, the Hawks have instructed Teravainen to focus on adding size and strength under the tutelage of team strength coach Paul Goodman. So instead of living in Finland, Teravainen is staying in Chicago this summer and hitting the weights at the United Center.
"Paul the strength coach knows what I need to do and I just listen to him and practice with him," Teravainen said. "It just takes some time. I'm just a young kid. It will come."
It's been a whirlwind for Teravainen since the Hawks selected him with the 18th overall selection in the 2012 draft. After completing his third season with Jokerit in Finland, during which he also participated in the World Junior Championships, Teravainen came to North America where he had a three-game stint with the Hawks followed by five games with Rockford of the AHL. That time spent playing on smaller ice surfaces and adjusting to the North American style of play was beneficial, Teravainen said.
"It was a good experience," he said. "I had a really long season. I played with five or six different teams during the season. I got a lot of experience when I came here and I think I'm more ready because of that."
The Hawks' acquisition of veteran center Brad Richards via free agency earlier this month gives Teravainen more time with fewer expectations to make an immediate impact. So instead of being thrown into the fire as the No. 2 center on a team favored to win the Stanley Cup in 2015, Teravainen could have a lesser role to begin his NHL career. He said he's not worried about it.
"I don't think (about) those things too much," Teravainen said. "I just focus myself and try to practice hard. I play where they put me."
There is also the possibility Teravainen could begin the season with Rockford to further hone his skills.
"Of course I want to play in the NHL, but if I go to Rockford I'll just try to work hard and play good and be ready all the time," he said.
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