Vancouver Canucks’ Quinn Hughes reaching new heights in rookie campaign

first_imgWASHINGTON — After skating over 25 minutes — a single-game high — and filling the void left by an injured Alex Edler in the Vancouver Canucks’ 2-1 shootout victory over the Washington Capitals on Saturday, defenseman Quinn Hughes stays modest, even in regards to his strong performance so far in his first-year campaign.He doesn’t know at first how many games it has been, then learns he’s skated in 23 of them this season and now officially qualifies as a rookie. Already in that span, he’s become a staple on the Canucks’ back end, joining the ranks of the top-4 and serving as the team’s quarterback on the first power-play unit. Despite his showing so far, where he’s picked up on things easily following a strong NCAA career with the Big 10’s Michigan and a five-game trial with Vancouver last season, he sees room for improvement.”I’m feeling pretty confident, but at the same time, I’m not satisfied,” Hughes said bluntly.With Edler potentially out, Hughes may see himself filling in in a bigger role. Head coach Travis Green said that “every night, [Hughes] shows us something,” which should give the d-man more room to grow and continue evolving his play when the Canucks take on the Flyers on Monday. “I think I was going to get better throughout the season,” Hughes said of the learning curve, adding, “[Development comes with] playing games. You’re playing games every other day and you learn.”So far, the 20-year-old has accumulated two goals and 18 points on the season, putting him on pace for 64 points through the remainder of the 2019-20 season. In his last four games, he has seven points — all of those coming in multi-point performances.MORE: For Jack and Quinn Hughes, sibling rivalry in rearviewBeyond his stats, the 5-10, 175-pound blueliner is playing a smart game, with 10 takeaways and just 17 giveaways so far, as well as only six PIM. He plays well at both ends of the ice, coming up big in the defensive zone while also moving the puck well and showing strong skating and hockey IQ when he’s starting the breakout. Although not the most physical player, he also doesn’t shy away from battling for the puck or sacrificing his body to block a shot.Already boasting great responsibility on the back end, Hughes currently ranks third among Canucks defensemen (behind Edler and Tyler Myers), skating 20:17 a night — which is the second-most among NHL rookies behind Ethan Bear. On the man advantage, however, the young puck-mover leads the team’s blueliners with 4:13 minutes per game.So far, his individual game has focused on the offensive impact he has for the Canucks, who have relied on Hughes when it comes to playmaking on the point — especially on the power play, where the team’s 26.7 percentage is the fourth-best in the league.”He’s just come a long way. He’s learning how to be the top guy on the power play and move the puck and when to shoot and when to pass,” Vancouver forward J.T. Miller said. “It’s way different than college, there’s way less room, guys are way more responsible in their structure and you know, we’re just telling him it’s not going to be easy when he first comes in and tries to do it. He’s definitely been doing a really good job … we’re making some good plays right now so he’s been a big part of that.”#Canucks Quinn #Hughes has his first NHL goal with a blast from the point on the power play.— CANUCKS (@Canuckbound) October 10, 2019As Hughes continues his contribution to the team’s offense — which needs a boost and ranks in the bottom-10 in the league — he’s become more confident and continues to impress his teammates on a nightly basis.”He’s a really good player. He makes [plays], he moves the puck well and obviously, he can skate the puck up,” Canucks forward Elias Pettersson said. “He’s a difference-maker and it’s good to have him.”last_img

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