2018 NHL draft prospect profile #4: Quinn Hughes

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK - MAY 20: Quinn Highes of the United States and Connor McDavid of Canada battle for the puck during the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Bronze Medal Game game between the United States and Canada at Royal Arena on May 20, 2018 in Copenhagen, Denmark. (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)
COPENHAGEN, DENMARK - MAY 20: Quinn Highes of the United States and Connor McDavid of Canada battle for the puck during the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Bronze Medal Game game between the United States and Canada at Royal Arena on May 20, 2018 in Copenhagen, Denmark. (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images) /

Quinn Hughes is the most exciting defender for those who lost out on the draft lottery. If the Canucks do select him on Friday, he has the potential to be the most electrifying defenceman in franchise history.

This is the profile I was looking forward to the most. No team understands their dire need for impact skill on the back end like Vancouver Canucks fans. For many, the team needs to pick a defencemen and few players can supersede that need.

If Quinn Hughes is on the board at seventh overall, then I wholeheartedly agree. In our opinion, Hughes is without a doubt the second best defenceman in this draft. Of the available blueliners in the Canucks’ range, Hughes has the highest ceiling, is closest to the NHL and may be one of the best skaters in this year’s draft.

He may be a tier below a franchise defenceman like Rasmus Dahlin, but he too has top pairing potential. Few defencemen we have ranked after Hughes share that trait. He can score, create plays and move so fluidly around the ice, the size difference won’t matter. You can’t hit what you can’t catch and the opposition is going to have a tough time trying to stop Hughes.

The kid from Orlando, Florida will give the Canucks’ defence the jolt of skill JIm Benning has been searching for. I know it may seem like we are holding him in higher regard than some other services, but if we break down what he has done, you will see why. There are certain people in the media lowering his rank for petty reasons, which could benefit the Canucks in a big way.

The stats rundown

*Counting stats provided by EliteProspects

Height: 178 cm/5’10

Weight: 79 kg/174 lbs

Birthdate: October 14, 1999

Position: Defenceman

Handedness: Left

Team (league): University of Michigan Wolverines (NCAA)







#8 by Bob McKenzie

#6 by Craig Button


For all the excitement around Brady Tkachuk, I feel I should make a point that Hughes had nearly as many points as Tkachuk in fewer games. Hughes finished the season with a points-per-game rate of 0.785 to Tkachuk’s 0.775.

Considering levels of competition, Hughes faced much better opponents than his cohorts in the Canadian Hockey league and in the case of Adam Boqvist, Sweden’s SuperElit league. He led all draft-eligible NCAA defencemen in points.

You may recognize the University of Michigan because Canucks prospect Will Lockwood is on the same team. A noteworthy alumnus from the program is Columbus Blue Jackets defenceman, Zach Werenski. In his draft year, Werenski had 25 points in 35 games with the Wolverines. Yes, Hughes is older than Werenski, but you can’t ignore that production.

In Hughes’ draft-1 season, he was with the U.S. National Team Development Program, picking up 53 points in 65 games. He definitely stepped up this season in the NCAA. On the international stage, Hughes made Team USA at the World Juniors. Three points in seven games doesn’t seem like much, but Team USA relied more on their veteran blueliners, limiting his ice time.

Lastly, Hughes represented the red, white and blue at the World Championships at Denmark. He looked very comfortable with other NHL players, also picking up a couple points in the tournament.

Scouting reports

Jackson McDonald, CanucksArmy:

"Watching Hughes rush the puck up the ice is a sight to behold. He consistently uses his superior skating ability to create separation between him and his opponents. (…) Edge control is so vastly superior to most of his peers that he is able to quickly turn or pivot and end up two or three strides ahead of a pressuring attacker. (…)outlet passes are crisp and clean, which makes him a potent weapon on the breakout when paired with his ability to rush the puck on his own. His shot doesn’t have much pop, but he more than makes up for this by thinking the game two or three steps ahead of his peers. (…)In the attacking zone, Hughes doesn’t make the right play. He makes the better play. In most instances, it makes him a threat to create offence out of nothing. The downside to this is that sometimes he can be too confident and skate the puck into an area he can’t safely get out of. As a result, he turns the puck over a lot."

Steve Kournianos, The Draft Analyst:

"The first thing you notice about Hughes is his calmness with the puck — he rarely, if ever, gets frazzled or frustrated in the face of a relentless or physical opponent. (…)Hughes is a strong playmaker with excellent vision, capable of threading the needle with either hard or saucered cross-ice passes. Additionally, he has a heavy shot with a quick release, and goaltenders have to work hard to control rebounds of his shots. Hughes makes plays on his backhand look effortless, and he’s adept at receiving and settling down pucks while traveling at a high rate of speed. His defensive play is relatively sound in terms of positioning and one-on-one tactics."

What we think

Yup, I’m sold. Quinn Hughes is at the top of my wishlist, we someone fall an incredible number of spots from the top. He has everything we could want from a dynamic, offensive defenceman and he’s not a one-dimensional player like Adam Boqvist. Of course he can be risky, but Timothy Liljegren was considered that as well. I’m sure the Toronto Maple Leafs are more than happy he is in their organization.

There is one thing I am noticing from one member of the media in particular. Sam Cosentino was recently on the 31 Thoughts Podcast with Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek. He was expressing his disappointment in the fact that Hughes chose to skip the NHL Combine, which angered him and supposedly several teams.

First, the Combine means next to nothing. Don’t agree? Please explain to me how chin ups and bench presses indicate skating ability or define hockey IQ. What about stick work and playmaking? These are fitness tests that prove nothing more than that. The interviews have some value, but teams can also set up individual meetings at their leisure. Casey Mittelstadt struggled to do a chin up, but is up there with Elias Pettersson in the best group of prospects outside the NHL.

Next: 2018 NHL draft profile #5: Oliver Wahlstrom

This self-serving, Steve Simmons-like sense of entitlement is a load of garbage. These players owe the media nothing and if teams are petty enough to lower their opinion of Hughes for that reason, good. They don’t deserve him. Jim Benning will walk away with a coup at his selection if teams are foolish enough to discount Hughes. Just don’t get caught up in the BS from a couple petty members in the media. Trust your scouts and grab that impact player. I repeat, Quinn Hughes is the second best defenceman in this draft. And if he’s available, he is the kind of player you can’t miss out on.