Vancouver Canucks: Reviewing Quinn Hughes’ NHL debut

VANCOUVER, BC - MARCH 28: Vancouver Canucks Goalie Thatcher Demko (35) is congratulated by Defenceman Quinn Hughes (43) after their NHL game against the Los Angeles Kings at Rogers Arena on March 28, 2019 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Vancouver won 3-2 in a shootout. (Photo by Derek Cain/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, BC - MARCH 28: Vancouver Canucks Goalie Thatcher Demko (35) is congratulated by Defenceman Quinn Hughes (43) after their NHL game against the Los Angeles Kings at Rogers Arena on March 28, 2019 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Vancouver won 3-2 in a shootout. (Photo by Derek Cain/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

Vancouver Canucks prospect Quinn Hughes played in his NHL debut Thursday night, against the Los Angeles Kings.

Quinn Hughes‘ debut with the Vancouver Canucks has been highly anticipated since being drafted seventh overall in last year’s 2018 NHL draft. Going into the season, there were rumours that Hughes would already be ready to play in the NHL, however, Hughes ultimately decided to return to Michigan University for another year in the NCAA.

With his season with Michigan, Hughes posted 33 points in 32 games, which is an increase from the previous season where he had 29 points in 37 games. Many anticipated that when his season with Michigan concluded, he would sign immediately with Vancouver, in which he did.

In his second last game with Michigan, Hughes blocked a shot with his foot, resulting in a bruised bone. He did proceed to play the next game with Michigan, which would also be their last of the season as they were eliminated, however, his injury would keep him out of the Canucks lineup for two weeks after signing his contract with the club.

While this was seen as a negative thing, one good way of looking at it is that it forced him out of playing more than nine games, which would have caused him to be eligible for the Seattle expansion draft in 2021. That being said, on Thursday night’s game against the Los Angeles Kings, Quinn Hughes was given the go for his NHL debut.  Let’s take an in-depth look at his debut.

First period

Quinn Hughes started the game paired alongside Luke Schenn, and had a total of seven shifts, and an ice time of 4:30. His first shift was at 17:59, 2:01 into the game. The shift started at a face off in the neutral zone outside of the offensive zone, which resulted in a loss.

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The Kings entered the Canucks zone and Hughes tied up the player in front of the net, which would have been a great chance for the L.A. forward. Hughes then checked the player in the corner and brought the puck behind the net, passing it which lead to a successful breakout.

In his second career shift, Hughes made a nice defensive play to gain the puck in the defensive zone, and pinched in the offensive zone. He then proceeded to make a good backward breakout pass in his short third shift.

In his sixth shift starting at 3:36 in the first, Hughes had his first rush starting in the defensive zone, skating past two L.A. players.

In Hughes’ last shift of the period, he brought the puck up the ice once again, with a successful zone exit and leading to a successful offensive zone entry. During this shift, he also pinched in the offensive zone, and made a few good passes.

Overall, his first period went by very smooth, with zero major mistakes or giveaways, multiple checks and clean passes. A very efficient first period.

Second period

Hughes had a total of eight shifts, and an ice time of 4:11. He saw a decrease in minutes due to an early struggle from the Canucks to clear the defensive zone, and another penalty kill at 10:50.

He had one mistake coming in his first shift of the second, where he left L.A’s Dustin Brown open in front of the net, in which Brown, fortunately, hit the post on an open net. Hughes proceeded to clear the puck.

Hughes saw a shift on the four on four alongside Alex Edler while Schenn was in the box for roughing. Hughes played on his off-hand side as Edler is also left-handed.

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With 5:58 left in the second, the Canucks were given a power play, but Hughes wasn’t given an opportunity to play, as Edler scored off the draw, passing Mattias Ohlund for goals by a Canucks defenceman with 94.

In Hughes’ sixth shift of the second, he carried the puck wide around the offensive zone, passing off the back of the net to himself to shake off his checker, proceeding to skate back to the front of the net shooting, and Brock Boeser grabbed the rebound to tuck it in, giving Hughes his first career NHL point.

Hughes had a much more notable period, with Dustin Brown almost scoring on an open net, and a beautiful play in the offensive zone to get his first NHL point.

Third Period

In the third period, Hughes had six shifts. A penalty at 4:50 left in the third caused more limited ice time. In his first shift of the period, Hughes made a hard pass to Edler in the offensive zone, took a screened shot that went wide, and made an excellent defensive play in the neutral zone to recover the puck.

His second shift saw him deep in the offensive zone passing around the boards for shot opportunities. He also made a nice play to break out, but was turned over in the neutral zone. In his third shift, he made more passes in the offensive zone, one of which he took on two Kings and helped almost set up a goal.

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However, in his fourth shift of the period, the Kings scored to tie up the game, in which Hughes was on for. Breaking down the goal, Hughes unfortunately was unable to get his stick on the offending player to diffuse the shot, leading to the goal.

Late in the third, Hughes made a pass to Boeser in front, but the defending Kings were able to diffuse the situation. Hughes seemed much more comfortable in the third period, however, did not see much time. He made many great plays in the offensive zone but was on for a goal against.

Overtime and shootout

Hughes had two shifts in the overtime frame, with his first more notable, playing with Elias Pettersson and Boeser. Their shift saw many opportunities and quality chances to score, however, were unable to end the game. Hughes attempted a notable backwards pass to Pettersson in the slot however, it was just out of reach of for the star rookie.

Hughes had the Canucks’ second attempt in the shootout but failed to score. He for Jonathan Quick‘s five-hole but was denied.


Quinn Hughes had an excellent debut in the Canucks 3-2 shootout win over the Kings. He finished the game with a time on ice of 15:36, and with two shots and an assist.

Overall Hughes has already made an impact in the NHL, and has shown dynamic characteristics. He made a highlight reel play for his first NHL point, made many excellent plays in all three zones with limited ice time, but was deployed fairly. In the overtime, the shift of Pettersson, Boeser, and Hughes showcased why fans should be excited about the future.

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Hughes is already a difference maker for the Canucks, and with four games left in the season, he should gain more experience and hopefully give fans more highlight-reel plays to add excitement heading into the offseason.