When the Penguins got on the ice yesterday, a big question to be answered would be which forward would fill the spot on Sidney Crosby’s wing. It’s a temporary job with Jake Guentzel is on the shelf, but an important one nonetheless.
As it turned out, it was Vinnie Hinostroza skating with Crosby and Bryan Rust.
This development could mean something for the future, or it could be nothing — just ask Valtteri Puustinen who started training camp 2022 with Crosby. Or Drake Cagguila, who opened up with Evgeni Malkin last year. Neither made the NHL team out of camp.
But for now it’s a story until something changes. Hinostroza has some familiarity with a Penguin, just not Crosby and instead the other member of the yesterday’s line.
Skating with Bryan Rust isn't anything new for Vinnie Hinostroza, as they played college hockey together at Notre Dame. Read more in our feature from this summer:https://t.co/kSE4zLKi3V— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) September 21, 2023
“I’m a hard-working guy first,” Hinostroza said. “I’m pretty fast out there, so I like to try and get on the forecheck and disrupt the other team’s defenseman, get pucks back, and try to make some plays.”
After recording 13 goals, 12 assists, and 25 points in 62 games during the 2021-22 campaign with Buffalo, Hinostroza spent the 2022-23 season split between the Sabres and their American Hockey League affiliate, the Rochester Americans.
“They were kind of in a situation where I wasn’t going to be a part of the long-term future there, so they kind of told me at the end of training camp, ‘you know, we love you, but if guys get hurt you’re going to play; and if not, we’re going to play these guys and develop them,’” Hinostroza explained.
Wingers adept at forechecking tend to fit Crosby’s preferred style and the 29-year old Hinostroza has 360 games of NHL experience under his belt (53 goals, 95 assists for 148 points).
He’s become a professional nomad as of late, playing for five clubs in the six seasons from 2017-23. That’s led to different roles and trying to find a niche, a journey that continues today.
The passing and finishing ability suggests that that Hinostroza has demonstrated some ability to not look totally out of place over a short period of time on an NHL scoring line. It’s unlikely he’s a long-term option for Crosby’s line, but for one day at least, Hinostroza received a great opportunity to show what he could add while the Pens are without Guentzel.