Quinn Hughes has been having a solid season on the blue line for the Vancouver Canucks.
In 30 games played this season, Hughes has managed two goals and 24 assists. Right now, his 26 points put him in a four-way tie for fourth in NHL scoring by defencemen. He is tied with Morgan Rielly of the Toronto Maple Leafs, John Carlson of the Washington Capitals, and Cale Makar of the Colorado Avalanche.
The Canucks first-round pick in 2018 is on pace for five goals and 65 assists for 70 points. That would be a new career-best. That would break Doug Lidster’s franchise record of most points by a defenceman in a single season. Lidster had 63 points in the 1986-87 season.
Hughes is also ascending the Canucks all-time scoring list for defenceman. He has cracked the top 20 in only 159 games.
Hughes got an assist in the Canucks 5-2 win over the San Jose Sharks and that was his tenth assist in December.
In the comeback win over Columbus, Hughes managed three assists in the game (His season-high is four assists in the 6-2 win against the Ottawa Senators.) including this gorgeous pass on Vasily Podkolzin’s tying goal.
He showed off his smooth skating and showed great vision and patience to find Podkolzin.
Hughes has continued to show off his offensive abilities this season. He has looked great on the transition and counter-attacks (especially since Bruce Boudreau) arrived. The 22-year-old’s skating continues to be fun to watch and his passing has been accurate.
Last season, he was not very good defensively. He was one of the worst defensive players in the NHL last season giving up a large number of even-strength goals against per NHL.Com.
This season, his defensive game improved. He hasn’t made a ton of glaring errors. (The turnover in the 4-1 loss in Pittsburgh that led to a goal is the only one that comes to mind.) He is second to Tyler Myers in takeaways by a Canucks defenceman this season with 13.
It also seems that he has been throwing more hits (nine on the season) and has tried blocking more shots. (19) Hughes hasn’t been giving the puck away as much. He had 51 giveaways last season and only has 12 so far this season. His giveaways per 60 are 1.13 this season and last season it was at 2.81.
Hughes’s defensive game hasn’t been world-class or anything but it has been much better than last season. The Canucks defensive core as a whole isn’t very good but Hughes is a bright spot.
Boudreau has even put Hughes on the penalty kill and he has looked good so far.
“For Bruce to put me on the PK, it means a lot,” said Hughes on December 8 per Brendan Batchelor of Sportsnet 650. ” I’m trying to round out my game, and I’m tired of hearing that I’m just an offensive defenseman.
“His passing is elite, his skating is elite, and he does it effortlessly,” said Boudreau on Hughes after the game against Columbus per Daniel Wagner of Vancouver is Awesome. “For a guy his size that can play 27-28 minutes hard minutes a night, it’s pretty awe-inspiring.”
Since Chris Tanev left for the Calgary Flames in 2020, the Canucks have not found a reliable partner for Hughes. Luke Schenn looked solid with him before he was put on the COVID protocol list. A reliable partner for Hughes that can play in the top four is a task for the next general manager to find. However, that is easier said than done.
Hughes is starting to look like the player we saw from his rookie season and the Canucks are going to have him on their blue line for years to come and he is only going to get better.