By Chris Emma-
CHICAGO (CBS) — A roster move was coming on Wednesday, and the Blackhawks knew it.
Kris Versteeg was set to return after being five weeks sidelined with a fracture in his left hand, and Chicago had to make room for the winger. Rookie Teuvo Teravainen had a pit in his stomach, knowing a return to the AHL’s Rockford could be coming. Instead, the decision brought a bit of a surprise.
The Blackhawks sent winger Joakim Nordstrom down to Rockford and put Versteeg on the third line, with center Andrew Shaw and left winger Bryan Bickell. As for Teravainen, the promising top prospect remains with the team but is out of the lineup, with Daniel Carcillo claiming the fourth-line spot.
“You’ve got to look at the job descriptions, the lines and where we’re at,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Danny brings something and Teuvo brings a little bit something different.”
Essentially, Quenneville believes that Versteeg and Teravainen are interchangeable skill players made for the top-nine, while Carcillo is better suited than Teravainen for the Blackhawks’ fourth line, built for checking.
“It’s just coach’s decision,” Teravainen said. “I’m trying to work hard now and get back to the lineup.”
Quenneville didn’t rule out a return to the lineup for Teravainen, nor did he dismiss a potential trip back to Rockford in order to further foster the Finland native’s growth in the vastly different game of North American hockey.
“Things change quickly in our business,” Quenneville said. “You never know.”
An even-keeled 20-year-old, Teravainen has two goals and two assists in his 15 games with the Blackhawks. He was called up after Versteeg was shut down with the injury to his left hand suffered in Chicago’s Winter Classic loss at Washington.
Prior to the injury, Versteeg had posted nine goals and 18 assists in 34 games, forming a verstaile line with Brad Richards and Patrick Kane. He impressed Quenneville in practice, showing few signs of rust and dust from the rehab.
“I know what I need to do to get back to where I was,” Versteeg said. “Right now, it’s just about getting into the game and getting back to pace.”
Evaluations will continue for Quenneville and the Blackhawks as the status of Versteeg and best fit for Teravainen are put into consideration.
The Blackhawks host the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at United Center, with Corey Crawford in net.