Canucks’ Hughes Continues to Improve Early this Season

Although he may not be putting up points at a rapid pace, Quinn Hughes has had a solid start to the season. He leads the Canucks in defensive scoring and ranks second in overall ice time despite missing one game with an injury. He is tracking to have his most complete season yet, which is exactly what the Canucks need if they want to contend for a playoff spot.

Hughes Continues to Improve at Even Strength

Compared to the first nine games of last season, Hughes has raised the bar significantly this season, not just in the offensive zone but also in the defensive zone. Through the first nine games last year, he registered a 49.17% Corsi for (CF%). This year, he has a 55.62 CF% through his first nine games despite more travel and dealing with an early-season injury. He has also been on the ice for far fewer goals against with four this season compared to 13 last season. Despite the team’s poor play, he has continued to elevate his game and been the engine this team needs.

This season, coach Travis Green has given Hughes tougher matchups as he is usually paired against the opposition’s top players. He has held players like Connor McDavid and Leon Draistial to one goal through two meetings this season while also keeping teams like Philadelphia, Seattle, and the New York Rangers off the scoresheet.

Quinn Hughes, Vancouver Canucks
Quinn Hughes, Vancouver Canucks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

As for his individual stats, he is tracking well. His two goals so far at even strength are three of his career-high, and he has generated 14 shots on goal through 190 minutes of ice time. The only criticism is that he is not creating high danger chances at five on five. This is an overall team issue, but Hughes is far too talented to have created zero so far. He needs to get the goaltender moving instead of just firing the shot from the point. That, along with jumping up in the rush more, should lead to more goals and more offense for the team.

Related: Canucks Quinn Hughes’ Road to 100 Points

Partnership With Poolman Going Better Than Expected

Coming into this season, the biggest question was who would play with Hughes with Travis Hamonic out with COVID protocol-related leave. Coach Green decided the best option was to place Tucker Poolman on his right side for stability. Although there were reservations on if the pairing could work, the duo has been better than expected through the first 100 minutes together. Overall, of the three most used defensive combinations on the team, this duo has performed the best when it comes to advanced statistics.

Tucker Poolman, Vancouver Canucks
Tucker Poolman, Vancouver Canucks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Although the duo has had some issues, they hold a 50.27 CF% together and a 50% shots for percentage. They have also outscored opponents five to one. The big question is, does this pairing get split up when Hamonic returns to being an everyday player. As mentioned, it is early in the season, but this duo has shown they should stick together. Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Tyler Myers are playing well together, so there is no need to break up this top-four. The results on the scoresheet will start to reflect the analytics soon, but unless there is an injury, Hughes and Poolman should stay together.

The Canucks Are Lost Without Him

Hughes’s impact on the team became evident when he was out of the lineup versus the Buffalo Sabres. The Canucks lost that game and had their worst team Corsi%, most shots against, and allowed the most goals of any game this season. It was a disaster of a game and showed how valuable he is to this organization. As good as players like Ekman-Larsson and Myers have been to start the season, this team needs Hughes to continue playing at the level he has been through the first nine games. If not, it could mean another lottery selection and some significant turnover this offseason.

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