Hours after re-signing John Hayden, the Blackhawks rewarded Vinnie Hinostroza with a two-year contract extension of his own. The deal carries a $1.5 million cap hit, according to Scott Powers of The Athletic.
"It's great to be able to re-sign here," Hinostroza said on NBC Sports Chicago's SportsTalk Live on Friday evening. "This is where I started my career, this is where I was drafted, this is where I was born, so it's kind of weird that I've been able to spend my first three years here and then another two. Couldn't be happier about it, I know my family is really happy too."
The remaining three restricted free agents for the Blackhawks now includes Adam Clendening, Anthony Duclair and Tomas Jurco.
Hinostroza started the 2017-18 season with the AHL's Rockford IceHogs, where he notched 22 points (nine goals, 13 assists) in 23 games. He was recalled by the Blackhawks on Dec. 8, 2017, and hasn't looked back since.
The 24-year-old speedster set career highs with seven goals, 18 assists and 25 points in 50 games and did so by averaging only 13:49 of ice time per game. He was one of the best possession players on the Blackhawks, who controlled 54.6 percent of the shot attempts when he was on the ice at even strength.
Hinostroza also ranked second on the team among players who appeared in at least 10 games with 1.98 points per 60 minutes at 5-on-5, a number only Patrick Kane topped at 2.16.
Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman has always included Hinostroza as part of the long-term plan, and was confident a deal would get done.
While this may be a bridge deal, it's a win-win for both sides.
It's an affordable price for the Blackhawks and a perfect two-year window for Hinostroza to prove himself as a potential building block beyond the 2019-20 season and cash out on a long-term deal when he's hitting the prime of his hockey career.
"I want to make it clear our No. 1 priority as we move forward is to make sure we can keep these young players — [Alex] DeBrincat and [Nick] Schmaltz and Hinostroza and some other young players that are going to maybe join our team over the next year or two," Bowman said at the end of the season. "That's the direction that we're headed, and we want those guys to be Blackhawks and to take a bigger role."
Knowing he's locked up for the next two seasons with a new contract that saw his salary double, Hinostroza has shifted his focus to do exactly what Bowman and the Blackhawks are expected of him: taking on a bigger role, while not having to look over his shoulder this time.
"I think I'm just going to play my game," Hinostroza said. "In the past years I've been on my entry level, so I didn't know where I was going to be to start the season. I was worried about making the team, whereas coming into this next year I really want to focus on making an impact for this team and helping this team win, not just making the team. I have bigger goals for myself and this team, so I'm really excited."