Even though Vinnie Hinostroza was born and raised in the Chicago area, the young Coyotes forward has embraced an off-season trade that jettisoned him from his hometown Blackhawks.
“When I got the call (about the trade), it was kind of a relief actually because growing up in Chicago and playing there, there’s a lot of pressure,” Hinostroza said. “I was happy to come down here (to Arizona) with a younger group and just try to be myself and make a name for myself.”
With the Coyotes, Hinostroza, 24, is expected to get a greater opportunity to showcase his speed and skills than he had with Chicago, a team loaded with veteran forwards and up-and-comer Alex DeBrincat; he averaged just 13:34 of ice time last season. Plus, he’s being reunited with childhood pals Christian Dvorak and Christian Fischer.
“He’s underrated,” Fischer said of Hinostroza, who has notched 13 goals and 26 assists in 106 NHL games. “I think you’ll see it throughout the season. He’s going to be a big surprise for people watching our team.”
Skating with Dylan Strome and Michael Grabner, Hinostroza played 16:00 and chipped in an assist in Arizona’s first preseason game at Vegas on Sunday. He’s enjoying Head Coach Rick Tocchet’s up-tempo pace.
“You can tell they love speed and want to get the puck going north,” Hinostroza said of Arizona’s approach. “I think that’s great for my game. I’m excited to be here and to really try to find my game and try to be my own player.”
Tocchet is pleased to have Hinostroza in the mix.
“I like his speed and his skill,” Tocchet said. “He’s got some offensive poise when he’s got the puck. He doesn’t throw pucks away. Even before camp, I noticed him vs. Chicago last season. On open ice, when he had the puck, he was a skilled player and he made some plays. That’s what we want to add to our team, for sure.”
Likewise, Hinostroza recalls competing against the Coyotes last season.
“Yeah, I remember playing this team at the end of last year,” Hinostroza said. “They smoked us (6-1). They really seemed like they got their game intact at the end of the year. So, I’m really excited coming in here. Everyone seems excited in the locker room.”
Defenseman Jordan Oesterle played with Hinostroza for the Blackhawks last season and accompanied him to the Coyotes in the same trade. Like Fischer, he believes Hinostroza is poised for a breakout season if given an opportunity.
“It was tough for him to get into the top six in Chicago, so I think him playing in the bottom six there, he didn’t get to show his full potential,” Oesterle said. “I think a lot of teams and people in this League underestimate him. He’s a hard-working forward. He has a lot of skill and he plays a 200-foot game and he’s an exciting player to watch. His upside is bright and I think he’s going to have a tremendous year.”