RALEIGH — The Carolina Hurricanes locked up one of their key players Monday, signing forward Teuvo Teravainen to a five-year, $27 million contract extension that will keep the Finnish winger in Raleigh through 2024, the team announced. The deal will cost $5.4 million annually against the salary cap.
Teravainen, who was set to be a restricted free agent at season’s end, has 10 goals and 29 assists for 39 points through 48 games this season. Acquired from Chicago in June 2016, along with forward Bryan Bickell, in exchange for a second- and third-round draft picks, Teravainen has 65 goals and 189 points in 326 NHL games with the Blackhawks and Hurricanes.
“Teuvo has improved every year of his NHL career and has established himself as a cornerstone forward for the Hurricanes now and into the future,” Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell said in a release. “He has shown that he is capable of adapting and expanding his role with our team, becoming a key penalty killer for (coach) Rod (Brind’Amour) this season. He’s still just 24 years old and we believe he will only continue to grow as a player.”
Teravainen emerged as the player Chicago thought they were getting with the 18th overall pick in the 2012 draft last season with the Hurricanes, notching career highs in goals (23), assists (41) and points (64) while frequently teaming up with countryman Sebastian Aho on Carolina’s top line, and he has contributed at a similar pace this season.
Teravainen is also playing nearly a minute more (17:42) than he did last season, thanks in part to an expanded role as a penalty killer, again often coupled with Aho. Teravainen is in the final year of a two-year contract that paid him $2.86 million annually.
The five-year deal is similar to the one given to new Hurricanes winger Nino Niederreiter prior to last season by the Minnesota Wild. Niederreiter, also 24 when he signed his contract, received a five-year contract averaging $5.265 million annually. Niederreiter was acquired from the Wild last week in exchange for center Victor Rask.
The Hurricanes landed Teravainen from Chicago due to their willingness to take on Bickell and the final year of his cap-crunching contract. Bickell played just 11 games for the Hurricanes, having been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis that surely impacted his play while in Chicago.
While Bickell’s story and inspirational return — in his final NHL game on April 9, he scored the shootout winner in Carolina’s 4-3 win over the Flyers, earning applause from the Philadelphia crowd — has become part of Hurricanes’ lore, the trade was always about acquiring Teravainen.
“It’s not often a player who was a first-round draft pick like Teuvo, at his age and with his skill, becomes available in a deal,” then-Hurricanes GM Ron Francis said after the trade. “We think he will be a very good addition, skill-wise, to our team. He has a lot of upside.”
Teravainen’s re-signing could also be a step forward in getting Aho’s new contract done. Aho entered Monday tied for 18th in the NHL in scoring with 54 points. In the final year of his entry-level contract, Aho is poised to cash in on a new contract that will surely make him the highest paid Hurricanes player.