RALEIGH — In a way, the announcement that the Carolina Hurricanes had re-signed forward Teuvo Teravainen to a five-year, $27 million contract extension seemed like a footnote to other ongoing negotiations.
“It’s great news,” coach Rod Brind’Amour said Monday before himself moving on to other pressing matters. “We’ve got a few guys we’ve got to lock up and obviously figure that out. it’s one step in that process. The management group here has done a nice job assembling the group, and now we’ve got to, obviously, keep it together or continue to add.”
First off, there’s Sebastian Aho — the team’s best player and, like Teravainen was, a pending restricted free agent at season’s end. As the 2018-19 season continues, Aho’s contribution — and likely his asking price — has grown.
Entering Tuesday’s game in Calgary, Aho was tied for 18th in the NHL in scoring with 54 points (21 goals, 33 assists) in 48 games in his first season as a full-time center. That’s on par with Buffalo’s Jack Eichel, who is a year older and in the first season of an eight-year, $80 million extension, and Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl, who’s in the second year of an eight-year, $68 million deal.
Simply put, Aho is going to get his money.
Then there’s Micheal Ferland, the intimidating power forward who will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.
Ferland, acquired this offseason in the trade that also brought defenseman Dougie Hamilton and prospect Adam Fox to Carolina in exchange for Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindholm, has fit perfectly on a line with Aho and Teravainen.
The Swan River, Manitoba, native, however, is primed for a life-altering deal that could see him earning more annually on a long-term deal than he’s made total in the first six years of his career. With an asking price that sources have said rivals San Jose winger Evander Kane’s seven-year, $49 million contract, Carolina will likely deal Ferland ahead of the trade deadline rather than losing him for nothing on July 1.
Which brings us back to Teravainen. With the noise around the Aho and Ferland negotiations and fervor over the team’s two first-year pros — Andrei Svechnikov and Martin Necas — it’s easy for the 24-year-old to get lost in the mix.
But that doesn’t change the fact he’s a proven commodity alongside Aho and on pace for a second consecutive 60-point season. Aho is already close to reaching 60 points at the All-Star break, and Teravainen would need 21 points in the season’s final 34 games — a .62 point-per-game pace that is about three-quarters of what he’s produced thus far this season (0.81) — to do it for a second straight year.
Only 33 times since the franchise relocated to North Carolina in 1997 has a player recorded 60 or more points in a season.
It’s a list of 14 players that shows what kind of company Teravainen is in. It includes: Eric Staal (8 times), Jeff O’Neill (4), Ron Francis (3), Ray Whitney (3), Rod Brind’Amour (2), Sami Kapanen (2), Keith Primeau (2), Jeff Skinner (2), Justin Williams (2), Aho (1), Erik Cole (1), Jussi Jokinen (1), Cory Stillman (1) and Teravainen (1).
It’s also worth noting that in the last full eight seasons, only seven times has a Hurricanes player cracked 60 points, and three were by Staal.
In the last four full seasons, there were 83 instances of a forward putting up 20-goal, 40-assist seasons, and you’re hard-pressed to find many flukes on the list. There are a couple of career year guys — Alexander Steen’s 64-point campaign in 2014-15 was his best season — and some who later received inflated contracts they’ve been unable to live up to, such as Kyle Okposo, who actually did it twice with the Islanders (2013-14, 2015-16) and was then overpaid by Buffalo.
Teravainen may not find his face on billboards and the subject of extensive marketing campaigns, but he’s an under-the-radar difference-maker for the Hurricanes — and at $5.4 million annually through 2024, he could prove to be a bargain.
“I love this team, I love my teammates here and all the organization,” Teravainen said after signing his new contract. “I feel like we’re going in the right direction — a lot of great young players. So I really want to be part of the future and get better with them.”