Canucks: Elias Pettersson was good, Quinn Hughes was better

ST LOUIS, MISSOURI - JANUARY 24: (L-R) Quinn Hughes #43 and Elias Pettersson #40 of the Vancouver Canucks take part in the 2020 NHL All-Star Skills competition at the Enterprise Center on January 24, 2020 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MISSOURI - JANUARY 24: (L-R) Quinn Hughes #43 and Elias Pettersson #40 of the Vancouver Canucks take part in the 2020 NHL All-Star Skills competition at the Enterprise Center on January 24, 2020 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes delivered phenomenal back-to-back rookie years for the Vancouver Canucks, but who had the overall better first season?

The Vancouver Canucks have had two incredibly talented young players come out of the 2017 and 2018 drafts. Despite having selections at fifth and seventh respectively, Jim Benning has proven to be the magician to pull the rabbit out of his hat with these two beautiful pick-ups.

The franchise centerman, Elias Pettersson sent shockwaves through the entire NHL just a season ago when the thought to be “mid-first round selection” got chosen at fifth by Vancouver. Not many knew his name, but after one season of pure dominance across the league, any redraft of 2017 would seriously feature Pettersson taking the first spot. He was that good. He’s the steal of the draft.

Quinn Hughes, on the other hand, was a player Benning was salivating over at the draft table of 2018, but it was never expected that the American skater would drop to seventh selection. A D-man that could move the puck that well was something Vancouver had never had possession of. Somehow, someway that happened and the Canucks arguably walked away as back-to-back NHL draft champions.

Two big rookies that helped this team get back on track. But who had the better, more impressive rookie season in Van-City? Site Experts of The Canuck Way went to Twitter to find out the answer from the Canucks’ most faithful fans. But before the results are revealed, lets review.

2018-19 Pettersson was the saviour of the Canadian west coast’s beloved Vancouver Canucks and Quinn Hughes was simply the next great piece to the puzzle moving forward — a defender with outer-world skating ability with puckhandling skills beyond his years that no Canucks team had ever possessed before.

People weren’t exactly expecting young EP40 to steal the show all season long back in 2018-19, but nonetheless, the Swedish sensation did just that all while skating his way to the club’s first Calder Memorial Trophy since the great, “Russian Rocket” Pavel Bure won the award back in 1991-92.

He entered the league like no other. Pettersson put up 10 goals through his first 10 games. The kid couldn’t miss the net, everything that touched his stick seemed to find its way to the back of the goal. Pettersson was born for the spotlight. He was an NHL All-Star, the Canucks top player and he finished his first season having put up 66 points, (28 goals, 38 assists) in 71 games.

An incredible feat in Vancouver, something the city really needed in the “Post-Sedin” era, Pettersson managed to top Pavel Bure as the organization’s top rookie with the most points. Petey jumped six points above the previous accomplishment and he did it in a much more challenging decade of hockey. Who knows where he would have finished if he played 82 games. Either way, it was a tremendous first season, and Canucks fans were lucky to enjoy it.

The season of Hughes was something else entirely. Pettersson had a great rookie season and he’s a future top 10 forward in this league someday, but Vancouver has never seen a defender like the Orlando, Florida 20-year-old. The swift-moving blueliner did things no Vancouver Canuck has ever done before. That’s why he lands the top spot over Pettersson in votes.

Hughes had 53 points, (8 goals, 45 assists) in 68 contests which was good enough for third in points on the team and first in points by a defender on his squad. He led all rookies in points when the season was paused as well as being fourth amongst all NHL defensemen.

Quinn was a rookie of the month selection, he made an appearance at the 2020 NHL All-Star game, he had the most power play points on his team and he was able to tie a Ray Bourque rookie record that hasn’t been touched in years.

Comparing the two rookies, yes, Pettersson finished with 13 more points in a couple more games played, but Hughes did the impossible as a defenseman and that’s something that doesn’t happen every year in this league. In fact, he was doing things that hadn’t been done since the early 90s.

It’s crazy to think at the pace he was going he would have most likely surpassed Bure on the Canucks rookie record, but given a good stretch of games to round out the regular season and Hughes may have given Pettersson’s new record a run for its money.

Next. Canucks: Bo Horvat deserves more credit as captain. dark

Two epic rookie seasons for two incredibly talented Canucks’ players. According to the fans, Hughes walks away as the guy with the better rookie performance, but in all honestly, it’s a pretty even fight. Canucks fans can be happy they both play in Vancouver.