The NHL regular season has officially come to a close, leaving Quinn Hughes of the Vancouver Canucks alone on top of the 2019-20 rookie scoring race.
The Vancouver Canucks were gifted with another rookie scoring leader this season. Making it back-to-back years for the 50-year franchise, Quinn Hughes mirrored the incredible season prior had by Elias Pettersson, and finished his own first NHL campaign with 53 points (eight goals, 45 assists) and a rookie-leading scoring number of his own.
Gary Bettman was live yesterday afternoon discussing the plan to return to play and crown a Stanley Cup champion.
In that announcement, it was made clear that the NHL has concluded the regular season where it is, and if/when hockey does resume, the NHL will jump directly into a 24-team playoff format. With that being said, it leaves the 20-year-old Hughes as the rookie-scoring champion.
According to EliasSports, Hughes joins Brian Leetch and Bobby Orr as the only two other rookie defenders over the last 80 years to accomplish such a feat. Let that sink in for a second. That puts the Canucks best defender in company with two first-ballot Hall of Fame players and complete NHL legends.
After fighting off some stiff competition at forward in the likes of Dominik Kubalik (30 goals, 16 assists) of the Chicago Blackhawks, it actually turned out to be the rookies on defense that gave Hughes a run for his money. One player, in particular, Cale Makar of the Colorado Avalanche who finished with 50 points (12 goals, 38 assists) in 57 games.
In a rookie year set for a battle on defense, Hughes emerged as the rookie-scoring leader and rightfully so. He was consistent all season, relatively healthy having only missed one game as a precaution. He led all Canucks in ice-time and launched the Vancouver power play into the League’s top four.
Everything he did this year was positive for Vancouver and without him, the team might not even be in a playoff picture scenario. His play with or without the puck the season was almost always perfect, but a Calder Trophy to top it all off might actually make it so.
Will the rookie-scoring leader also walk away with a nod to be selected as this season’s Calder Trophy winner? Only time will tell for sure, but this is a great step in the right direction either way.