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Chicago Blackhawks Assign Hinostroza To Rockford

By Colin Likas
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It was fun while it lasted, right Vincent Hinostroza? The third-line center for the Chicago Blackhawks during their stretched-out four-game homestand was reassigned to the Rockford IceHogs on Tuesday. Hinostroza was called up after Kyle Baun couldn’t turn his preseason and training camp successes into much in regular-season play with the big club.

Hinostroza had a fine four-game audition in the NHL, centering Teuvo Teravainen and Ryan Garbutt. The trio was really active but couldn’t put any points on the board while Hinostroza was around. Hinostroza individually finished with no points and no rating over the four games, though he did acquire two penalty minutes and four shots on goal. He was involved in the end-of-game scrum against the Columbus Blue Jackets in his NHL debut, during which he didn’t step down from the Jackets’ bruisers, who were out to make trouble with the game out of reach.

Of course, an important part of being a center is winning faceoffs. Hinostroza had a 41.4 percent success rate, though 29 faceoffs isn’t much of a sample size. If Hinostroza manages to bulk up before the 2016-17 season (he currently stands at 5-foot-9, 180 pounds), he could be a lethal third-line center for the Blackhawks. As he is, he showed heart and tried to show that his size wasn’t going to keep him from being an NHL player. Overall, Hinostroza had a solid audition in the big leagues.

This does leave a hole in the roster, so Joel Quenneville and Co. have a decision to make. Unless they want to intentionally play a man down, which wouldn’t be totally unprecedented. Bryan Bickell figures to slot back in the lineup at some point, but he’s obviously not a center. You could move Teuvo to third-line center again, or we could unfortunately see Andrew Shaw back in the spot. Of course, this is all if the Blackhawks don’t call up someone else from Rockford. Considering the Blackhawks don’t play again until Thursday, they’ll probably add someone before then.

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Let’s look at a few options to fill the spot opened by Hinostroza’s reassignment.

Sep 25, 2015; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens forward Daniel Carr (43) shoots the puck as Chicago Blackhawks forward Marko Dano (56) and teammate Teuvo Teravainen (86) defends during the first period at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Marko Dano

One of the pieces returning to the Blackhawks in the Brandon Saad deal, Dano received time alongside Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa during training camp. And then, he was suddenly assigned to Rockford for the start of the season. Dano seems to have taken the demotion in stride despite spending quite a bit of time in the NHL with Columbus last season. Dano has a goal and five assists in seven games, giving him the second-most points on the team. He’s also fired 17 shots, though his shooting percentage is only 5.9. It could be Dano’s time to prove to Q that he belongs in the big leagues, and the Blackhawks could really use some scoring after tallying two goals in their previous 121 (approximately) minutes of play.

Tanner Kero

As Blackhawk Up’s Matt Barbato posted today, Kero has been recognized as the AHL Player of the Week. He leads the IceHogs in goals with six and rating at plus-7 and has two assists and a gaudy 33.3 shooting percentage on top of it. He also hasn’t committed any penalties so far. If Kero was called up, it could be on an interim basis unless he continues to tear up the NHL as he’s doing in the AHL right now. That usually doesn’t happen immediately, but, again, the Blackhawks could really use some scoring right now. Riding a hot hand might be the way to go, especially if Kero lands on the third or fourth line, both of which are struggling to produce offensively. The Blackhawks do have a short roadtrip coming up, though, and they may not want to start Kero off in that position.

May 27, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Anaheim Ducks right wing

Jakob Silfverberg

(33) controls the puck against Chicago Blackhawks defenseman

Kyle Cumiskey

(26) in the second period in game six of the Western Conference Final of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Cumiskey/Ville Pokka

No one said it’d have to be an offensive player being called up. While that would make the most sense considering the Blackhawks are at the minimum 12 forwards, the defense is still a point of concern for this team with Duncan Keith sidelined. The current unit has allowed just two goals in three games, but Corey Crawford has been stellar in net and two of the opponents (Florida and a struggling Anaheim) aren’t juggernauts at the moment. David Rundblad still looks very rough around the edges, and Viktor Svedberg is still making rookie mistakes. If the Blackhawks want to go with what they know to “reinforce” the blue line, they could call up Cumiskey. If they want to give another youngster a look at the big-league level (and possibly add some blue-line offense), they could turn to Pokka. I still think they’ll add a forward, but calling up another defenseman isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

Next: Blackhawks' Good, Bad And Ugly From First 3 Weeks

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