Vinnie Hinostroza clearly wasn’t part of Joel Quenneville’s plans for the Panthers the rest of this season, considering how eagerly they dumped him in Friday’s trade.
But the Blackhawks see Hinostroza as someone who can play a significant role.
“I feel confident that he can contribute,” Hawks coach Jeremy Colliton said Saturday. “We need more of those guys, so [I’m] happy that he’s going to get an opportunity. We’ll see what happens.”
If anyone knows how to maximize Hinostroza’s strengths, it’s probably Colliton.
The two are familiar with each other from the 2017-18 AHL season, when Colliton took over as the Rockford IceHogs’ coach and Hinostroza was sent there after Hawks training camp.
Under Colliton’s watch, Hinostroza dominated the minor leagues to the tune of 22 points in his first 23 games. That earned him an early December call-up and he hasn’t been back to the AHL since.
Any more time in Florida and he likely would’ve ended up back in the minors, though, so Colliton expects him to be “hungry for the opportunity” with the Hawks. He’s driving the 20 hours to Chicago, rather than flying, in order to reduce his required quarantine time.
Colliton also insisted Hinostroza’s addition wouldn’t cost a young player like Philipp Kurashev a roster spot or block a prospect’s route to the NHL.
“It won’t block anyone,” he said. “Ultimately, the guys earn what they get. They’re going to get an opportunity to show what they deserve. But you want to have quality surrounding your young players that play.”
Hagel had false positive
Brandon Hagel was placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list Friday because of a false positive, Colliton said.
After several negative tests in the past 24 hours, Hagel was removed from the list Saturday. He played in the Hawks’ 3-0 loss to the Predators, although Colliton said he “had had to jump through quite a few hoops to get” to Nashville since he wasn’t allowed on the team flight Friday.
That news is certainly a relief for the Hawks — especially in light of the disastrous ongoing outbreak with the Canucks that has so far reportedly infected 14 players and three coaches, some severely.
Faceoff woes continue
The Hawks squandered a crucial one minute, 55 seconds of a five-on-three power play Saturday in part because Kirby Dach lost all three faceoffs during it, giving the Preds three easy clears.
It turns out that has been happening all year. The Hawks entered the day 30th in the NHL in power-play faceoff percentage at 46.6% — just slightly better than their 28th-place ranking in overall faceoff percentage.
David Kampf and Carl Soderberg are the Hawks’ only centers above 48% — much less 50% — on draws this year.