3. Hughes is nothing short of an NHL All-Star
Remember how Hughes believed all season long that he was only going to get more comfortable and more offensively productive as the year went on? Well, he followed through with his word doing exactly that and actually gaining momentum deeper into the final stretch of games.
With Hughes coming from a college background where the regular-season is only 34 games in length, many fans and spectators expected a drop off in production around the All-Star break. Something similar to Pettersson’s rookie drop off a year prior sounded like a big possibility for the smaller framed Hughes, especially with him regularly playing more minutes per game as a defenceman.
To the surprise of everyone but Hughes himself, his production got him into the All-Star Game, and after the 2020 ASG weekend, his offensive stats spiked and continued growing into the February stretch. Hughes gathered 15 points through 13 games to claim rookie of the month and on top of that, up until the NHL pause, since the All-Star break, no NHL blueliner had more points than Hughes.
From January up until the March 12th pause of NHL hockey, Hughes added 23 points in 25 games, which was the most of any defenceman and he used those points to take the rookie scoring lead as well as perch himself into a tie for fourth amongst all NHL D-men.
Nobody, not even Hughes can take the Norris Trophy from soon to be winner, John Carlson, but Hughes definitely did more than enough this season to warrant himself a little Norris Trophy consideration and at the very least, well-deserved respect from the league’s best players.