Vinnie Hinostroza was traded to the Blackhawks after nine scoreless games with the Panthers, his longest scoreless streak since his rookie season in 2016-17. There weren’t lofty expectations for Hinostroza, judging by the fact that the Blackhawks gave up career minor leaguer Brad Morrison in the deal, whom the Blackhawks had acquired for Olli Maatta from the Kings in the offseason.
Hinostroza proceeded to deliver 12 points in 17 games with the Blackhawks, one of the better players in his 17 games in Chicago. According to MoneyPuck, Hinostroza’s most common line — with Dominik Kubalik and Philipp Kurashev — was the fourth-best this season for the Blackhawks with a 50 percent expected goal share (among lines with more than 30 minutes). That line also allowed the fourth-fewest expected goals against per 60 (1.6).
Hinostroza, an unrestricted free agent, is someone the Blackhawks may have high up on the priority list this offseason, at least once the Seattle expansion draft has come and gone. After all, Hinostroza — a native of Bartlett in Chicago’s western suburbs — was originally a Blackhawks draft pick before being traded as part of the package with Marian Hossa’s contract to the Coyotes.
Hinostroza now has a history of producing outside of that stint in Florida. He was fourth on the 2018-19 Coyotes with 39 points (Clayton Keller led with just 47 in 82 games). His scoring stint with the Blackhawks this season also isn’t out of the norm, as he now has six streaks near the same amount of points per game. He had two such streaks in ‘17-18 and three in ‘18-19.
However, there are some concerns about Hinostroza’s ability to replicate this his 2021 level of production in upcoming seasons.
For instance, Hinostroza’s nine scoreless games with Florida should be a bit concerning, and Hinostroza can be a bit streaky. He has gone without a point in seven straight games five times throughout his career, has two instances of a nine-game pointless streak and even suffered through a 10-game streak without a point back during his first full NHL season in November/December 2016.
Hinostroza made up for such concerns about his Florida tenure with the highest points-per-60 rate (3.12) of his career during those 17 games with the Blackhawks. His second-highest rate was 2.17 in 2017-18 — meaning he improved by nearly a full point.
Hinostroza had the second-highest individual points percentage (the percentage of points scored with an individual player on ice that player had a point on) of his career at 80 percent this season with Chicago, after 2018-19.
Finally, Hinostroza’s shooting percentage was the highest of his career at 14.81 percent with the Blackhawks. His career average is 7.8 percent and his average with Chicago is now 8.7 percent. In other words: a goal dip is coming, as Hinostroza scored 1.04 goals per 60 in Chicago, well above his second-highest mark of 0.87 in 2018-19. In no other season has he topped 0.61.
Those are the warning signs that this performance may not be have long-term viability. At the same time, though, some of his negative stats may also not be repeatable next season. Hinostroza had the highest giveaways-per-60 rate of his career (2.6) in Chicago this season and his highest penalties per 60 rate (1.04).
Hinostroza added value to the Blackhawks roster besides his point production as well. He had a 2.9 goals above replacement mark in his 17 games, with a 2.3 expected GAR mark. Each of those may be repeatable feats, as he had a 7.3 xGAR in 2018-19 and 2.1 xGAR in 2019-20.
Given that the Blackhawks know what Hinostroza is — a great depth option with limited top-six potential — and don’t give him too much money, it’s not impossible (although not likely) for Hinostroza to replicate his success with the Blackhawks again next season. There are even ways he could up his play for the Blackhawks to make up for a potential dip in production. In each of the last two seasons, Hinostroza was better defensively than he was for the Blackhawks this season.
Just be prepared for some cold streaks.