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Quinn Hughes: Next Season's Calder winner?

March 24th, 2019

One of the first article I wrote for this website I said Elias Petterson would win the Calder this year. I believe he is well on his way to taking home the hardware although there has been strong play from other candidates such as: Carter Hart, Jordan Binnington, Miro Heskainen and Rasmus Dahlin. I'm going to go out on a limb and predict the Canucks will have back to back calder trophy winners for the first time ever; and let us not forget Brock was a runner up just a year before! 


Canuck fans everywhere are chomping at the bit to get a look at their next superstar: Quinton Hughes.


A deep bone bruise has put his debut on hold, but recently it has come to light he will play a few games before this season comes to an end. When the season does come to a close I will remind you that the the Draft Lottery has a new time this year, immediately after the season ends. The TV coverage is a bit hilarious because Sportsnet loves to bring in all the GMs of the teams and reveal "live" the winner of the lottery. It's not great TV but if you have nothing better to do it could be good for a laugh. But i digress.


For some fans, the first glimpse of Quinn was right after he was drafted by the Canucks last year. After the pick, Benning explained his excitement by citing the dynamism in Hughes’ game and how well it would complement the rest of their collection of high-end prospects. I too shared his excitement. While some people may have thought Evan Bouchard or perhaps Noah Dobson was the more sure choice, Jim opted to go for the smooth skating Hughes, whose brother Jack is the likely 1st overall pick this year. Q Hughes could have stepped into the NHL as an 18 year old, but instead opted to go back to school for one more year to work on getting stronger and also have one more shot at the Frozen four (spoiler alert, he was eliminated) but you should know that because he signed his ELC last week!


Quinn Hughes was named as one of 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Award this week which is given to the best player in college hockey. If he does bring it home, he would be the second Canucks prospect in a row to win it, after Adam Gaudette won it in 2018. Although he is facing some stiff competition this year and I personally don't think he will take home the hardware. 


Hughes got a taste of Vancouver hockey during the World Junior Championship, where he helped lead the U.S. to a silver medal, to go along with his bronze medal from the year before. Jack and Quinn got to play together  for the first time professionally and both were impressive in their own ways. Quinn only amassed two points but his ability to carry the puck and make quality outlet passes was definitely on display. It's these two traits that I believe are going to help the Canucks in a couple of key ways. If Quinn gets time on the top powerplay unit I can see him putting up points at an impressive rate. His elite skating combined with his vision will allow him to control the blue line and move the puck quickly to the shooters. While his shot may not be very hard it is still accurate and he is known for his ability to get pucks through to the net when he needs to. Whether he spends time on the top unit or the second, he will improve the powerplay and will be exciting to watch on the man advantage. 


One thing that people will always bring up about Quinton is his size, he's only 5'10. So he's not exactly Zdeno Chara back there but his skating is what will make him such an effective d-man. His edgework is phenomenal and there are whole video montages of this on full display. Here's a nice clip that showcases some of his elite talent: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJiyMMwO-Qg


Quinn, like many of the Canucks great prospects in recent years has a great personality and leadership qualities. During one game with his NCAA Wolverines after a tough loss he stood up in the locker room took responsibility for his mistakes, apologizing to his teammates for the two costly turnovers he created which contributed to a lopsided loss. The following weekend when the team went to Minnesota, Hughes had one of his best games of the season and scored a goal and added an assist to cap off a great bounce back game. At only 19 years old he, like many prospects today seems mentally ready for the NHL and everything it can throw at you. 


I don't have a player comparison for Quinn. Quinn Hughes is Quinn Hughes. He's a unique player with a unique skillset that truly has to be seen to appreciate. He's a future top pair d-man and there's no doubt in my mind he will be in contention for the Calder all next season if he manages to stay healthy. The NHL is getting, quicker and more skilled by the minute and Hughes will have no issues transitioning to the National Hockey League. That being said I have seen some people compare him to the great Bobby Orr. I think with all prospects you should follow this simple guideline: prepare for the worst and hope for the best. A defenceman in the NHL will be under constant scrutiny because the mistakes they make usually lead to the red light turning on. So for Quinn my expectation is simple, just play. I could care less if he get's 50 points or 10 in his first season, the important thing is he takes the appropriate next steps in his development while he acclimates to the speed and toughness needed to get through a full NHL season.


While fans may be hoping for some luck on lottery day the odds are not in Vancouver's favor at this current time. As of today Vancouver is the 9th worst team in the NHL and would have just a 5% chance at getting Jack Hughes. However, the youngest brother, Luke, could be the best of the three (according to Papa Hughes). So there's still another shot at uniting two of the Hughes brothers if the Canucks continue their unlucky streak at the lottery. 


I will say this however. The Canucks are hosting the draft this year so it would make for a great script if Vancouver somehow fell to #1 overall, something that has eluded the Canucks since their inception.


-AP



"Quinn Hughes was named as one of 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Award"

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