Vinnie Hinostroza spent the majority of the 2016-17 season with the Chicago Blackhawks before being sent down to AHL Rockford. Hinostroza played most of the final months of the season with the IceHogs then was recalled and played one postseason game. He improved on both sides of the puck this past season, but due to new players joining the organization and others making bigger leaps in their play he slips down six spots from last year’s rankings to No. 13.
Birth date: April 3, 1994
Acquired via: 2012 NHL Draft, sixth round (No. 169)
Most recent stop: Blackhawks (NHL)
Size: 5’9, 173 pounds
Contract: Signed through 2017-18 with a $717,500 salary cap hit
Hinostroza is part of rising trend in today’s NHL - smaller and faster forwards. At only 5’9, Hinostroza brings speed and some playmaking ability to generate scoring chances for not only himself, but his teammates as well.
The Hawks gave Hinostroza a brief glimpse at the NHL during the 2015-16 season with seven games. The Bartlett, Ill. native skated away with zero points and looked outmatched against bigger opponents in the offensive zone. But this past season, Hinostroza stayed up with the Hawks and scored six goals and 14 points in 49 games.
Hinostroza hasn’t received top-six line minutes like other young players such as Ryan Hartman, John Hayden or Nick Schmaltz. He’s been plugged into the third or fourth line amongst the fray of forwards: Andrew Desjardins, Tomas Jurco, Tanner Kero and Jordin Tootoo.
In order to help himself crack through the lineup next season, he’s been working on edge work and skating drills with Patrick Kane and Hartman this summer in Chicago.
"We skate with [Prodigy Hockey skills coach] Brian Keane, and he really works on the small details. Going into the season, not only are we working on strength — that was my main focus last year — but also the little tiny on-ice thing like the edges and stuff like that,” Hinostroza told CSN Chicago at the Chicago Hockey Charity Classic in Geneva.
"I think I'm getting a lot stronger, trying to do the right things, working out with Kaner and working out with these older guys. It's nice to be in the gym and on the ice every day."
What’s next in 2017-18?
It’s a make it or break it type season for Hinostroza. His strength in puck battles against opponents and his faceoff ability are the biggest areas of his game that need improvement. As if being in a contract year wasn’t enough pressure to break through this season, he’ll also have some more experienced players like Lance Bouma and Tommy Wingels, who were both acquired during the offseason, jockeying for playing time.
As a former Notre Dame student, he also probably should change his number from 48 to something else to avoid 4-8 jokes in his future.