Quinn Hughes has been a revelation — a truly transformative on-ice presence whose rare skill set deserves the full attention of the hockey world. One might fairly argue that, aside from avid followers of the Vancouver Canucks, few could accurately express just how masterful the first-year NHL defenceman has been for his team. Canucks fans, some skeptical before his arrival in Vancouver, have been left speechless and astonished as the young phenom has completely rewritten their team’s playbook and contributed to the restoration of reasonable belief in the team’s playoff potential. A team of stagnant players has suddenly become one of the fastest squads in the league, all thanks to the puck movement of their new superstar defenceman — a master of motion.
From his own goal line, Hughes routinely moves the puck up the ice with precision for the Canucks, either slicing through the opposition’s defensive structure with patience and deception, or firing a crisp stretch pass across two lines to a high-speed target. In the offensive zone, the team now runs its plays through him, no longer working from the half-wall as it once did; when loose pucks manifest in open areas of the ice, his extra gear activates, at which point one can often expect him to aggressively pirouette, dodge and weave between obstacles to ensure that the Canucks continue to attack the opposing net.
He has, with each stride and every pass, propelled the team forward via a combination of offensive intelligence, inimitable agility on his skates, pure puck skill, and a proactive sense of motion, and has provided a degree of puck-moving expertise as well as possession savvy unique among players currently in the league.
While the NHL has recently witnessed marvelous displays of skill and poise from young blueliners and boasted a bevy of highly-touted defence prospects, including Noah Hanifin, Ivan Provorov, Rasmus Dahlin, and Mikhail Sergachev, none of those players have been quite as vital to their team’s success as Hughes. To say that Quinn Hughes has just been another young, burgeoning talent is to massively understate the sheer brilliance of this player in his rookie season. He has been the shifty, elusive, bold and creative defenceman that the Canucks have sought for decades.
In any other year, he might have been the runaway favorite for the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s rookie of the year, but alas, the Colorado Avalanche’s superb rookie defenceman Cale Makar has recorded a statistically-similar season, igniting a fair, fiery debate about which player most deserves the Calder Trophy.
Both Hughes and Makar are superb offensive defencemen, and both have been carving their names in history as two of the most prolific scorers of all time among rookie NHL defencemen. To put their achievements into perspective, both rank behind only Nicklas Lidstrom and Brian Leetch as the fastest rookie defencemen to score 40 career points. As of today, Hughes and Makar each have 41 points.
Neither Canucks fans nor Avalanche fans may quite be able to grasp the splendor of watching their rookie’s counterpart. Spectators who do not watch these players on a nightly basis might not have a strong opinion about either player at all, witnessing only the occasional highlight and subscribing to word-of-mouth chatter.
Perhaps the best way to illustrate Hughes’ contributions to the Vancouver Canucks, thus, is simply to provide a detailed visual representation of his season thus far and allow the footage to communicate his case for the Calder. He has scored 41 points so far, but this ten-minute video features 89 plays from the current season, many of which are rather breathtaking.
Enjoy the video!
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