Chicago Blackhawks minor leaguer Vinny Hinostroza was assigned to the Rockford IceHogs because of circumstance, not from his lack of preparation
You could say that having an abundance of NHL-ready players is a good problem to have as an NHL team, but that problem may not be seen in the same way from a prospect’s perspective — Chicago Blackhawks or otherwise.
Young players understand there is a process to development regardless of how ready they believe they are. Guys come from different backgrounds with the same goal of making the big club. And sometimes those opportunities come later than expected.
This year’s Blackhawks training camp was similar to last year’s, when the forward group needed to be reassembled. Vacancies in the top six and virtually the whole bottom six gave plenty of optimism to young players striving to make the team. One of those players was third-year pro Vinny Hinostroza.
Hinostroza proving his worth
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Drafted in 2012, Hinostroza attended the University of Notre Dame before going pro in 2015.
Although he isn’t the biggest guy on the ice, his strengths are in his speed and playmaking abilities. His explosiveness helps him create high-quality chances on the rush and make space for his wingers to find soft scoring spots on the ice.
Hinostroza played 49 games with the Blackhawks last season and scored six goals with eight assists. Right off the bat, it looked like he had great chemistry with 2013 first-round pick and childhood friend Ryan Hartman.
As the season progressed, Hinostroza struggled to find his scoring touch despite getting multiple chances. The burden of getting to the pro level and passing up golden scoring opportunities to please teammates is something a lot of young players experience, which seemed to hurt Hinostroza’s chances of staying with the team.
One might say that he thought too much instead of just playing hockey.
This season, Hinostroza was cut in training camp and sounded pretty disappointed to be returning to Rockford for his third season of pro hockey.
The good news for guys like Vinny is that the Blackhawks have put a new focus on development and getting their young players to the NHL level. New coach Jeremy Colliton has made Hinostroza an alternate captain on this year’s IceHogs team, which includes a lot of new faces. Colliton has vowed to play a heavy puck-possession style that requires a lot of hard work, nothing Hinostroza is foreign to.
There are a few players in Rockford who showed some signs of talent in training camp, such as defenseman Luc Snuggerud and center Anthony Louis, but they still need some seasoning. Hinostroza will be in a new leadership role teaching the new kids how to be pros, but hopefully he will be just a phone call away from where he really deserves to be in Chicago.