Cage Match: Teuvo Teravainen vs. Nikolaj Ehlers

Rick Roos

2018-08-08

It’s very rare after as long as I’ve penned Cage Match (five years this month!) that I run into a true first: this week I think we have one in me pitting two players (Nikolaj Ehlers and Teuvo Teravainen) against each other who are both set to enter their “magical fourth year” (disregarding Teravainen’s abbreviated 2014-15 campaign with Chicago). Which one is poised for more success this season, and down the road? Cage Match is here to give you the all-important answers, and starts now!

 

Career Path and Contract Status

 

Ehlers, 22, was selected ninth overall in 2014 and returned to the QMJHL, where he nearly averaged two points per game, paving a path for him to enter the NHL for 2015-16. Ehlers appeared in 72 games as a rookie but barely surpassed the point per every other game mark, although 24 of those points came in his last 31 games, suggesting success to come. Sure enough, for 2016-17 Ehlers continued where he left off, rising to 64 points and looking like a player on the fast track to stardom. But then he dipped a bit in 2017-18 to only 60 points, leaving some to wonder whether he has more to offer and is being held back, or instead is perhaps not a player bound to score 70+.

Teravainen (“TT”), who turns 24 next month, was selected 18th overall in 2012 and arrived in North America at the end of 2013-14. But 2014-15 was his first true taste of US hockey and it didn’t go well; in the AHL he played decently (25 points in 39 games), yet for the talent-stacked Blackhawks he was a chicken and egg victim, not getting points to generate more ice time, which he needed to score, and he ended with only nine points in 35 games. For 2015-16 he was with the Hawks for a full season but again couldn’t carve out a featured role, posting 35 points in 78 games. That summer the cap-conscious Hawks included TT in a deal to unload Bryan Bickell’s albatross contract to the Hurricanes. In his first season with Carolina he didn’t show much more than in Chicago, with 42 points in 81 contests. In 2017-18, however, he broke out in a big way, upping his total to 64 points and then, if that wasn’t enough, shining at the spring IIHF World Championships to the tune of 14 points in only eight games, marking the fifth time he’d had point per game or better scoring in an international tournament despite not even having turned 24.

This season Ehlers commences his seven-year, $42M contract that was inked last October, while Teravainen will count $2.8M against the cap before – if not extended – becoming an arbitration-eligible RFA next summer.

 

Ice Time

 

Season

Total Ice Time per game

(rank among team’s forwards)

PP Ice Time