It’s no secret that the Vancouver Canucks’ blue line lacks strength on the right side. So, after an offseason where general manager Patrik Allvin and president Jim Rutherford tried (and failed) to add anything of significance to that department, top defenceman Quinn Hughes offered a solution. He would be willing to move from his natural left side to his off-side on the right. He started in training camp paired with Oliver Ekman-Larsson on that aforementioned right side and stayed there for scrimmages and his first preseason game against the Seattle Kraken. By all accounts, he looked pretty good and now has the confidence of Bruce Boudreau to play there during the regular season if needed.
“The biggest thing this summer was that we wanted to make him feel comfortable playing on the right side. If the situation arises, he can play on the right side without a problem – and he’s comfortable with it” Boudreau said after practice on Thursday.
Hughes Is Never Satisfied With His Game
“For him, there’s no ceiling…he’s driven to be as good as he can be.” That’s what Boudreau reiterated about Hughes and his work ethic and drive to improve his overall game. Since coming into the league at the youthful age of 19 and recording three points in five games before 53 points in his rookie season, he’s been steadily getting better with each passing year.
While Hughes has always been known for his superb skating and elite first pass, he’s been criticized for his defence – or lack thereof. After two seasons where he posted a combined minus-34 in the plus/minus column, he went to work improving that aspect of his game. Last season was where it paid off as he started to use his stick and body position more effectively and finished with a career-high plus-10 rating.
Hughes also made waves offensively by hitting his biggest numbers yet with 68 points in 76 games. All while breaking a franchise record that had stood up since Doug Lidster recorded 63 points in 1986-87. Now he’s poised to break his own record in 2022-23 if his promise to shoot more comes to fruition. If he can start to flirt with the 15-20 goal mark, he could hit close to 80-85 points and be in the realm of Cale Makar, Roman Josi and Victor Hedman. I wouldn’t put it past him either as Boudreau said, he has no ceiling.
That ceiling doesn’t just include offence, as Hughes wants to be a complete defenceman that can be relied upon in all situations – not just on the power play and in the offensive zone. It started last season with him asking Boudreau if he could play on the penalty kill. A place he ended up thriving, by the way. Now it’s playing on the right side. Long story short, he wants to be the best and with his work ethic and modern NHL skillset, I wouldn’t be surprised if that happened one day. After all, he’s only 22 and has already become arguably the best defenceman in franchise history.
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Matthew Zator is the assistant managing editor at THW and a writer who lives and breathes Vancouver Canucks hockey, the NHL Draft, and prospects in general. He loves talking about young players and their potential. Matthew is a must-read for Canucks fans and fans of the NHL Draft and its prospects. For interview requests or content information, you can follow Matthew through his social media accounts which are listed under his photo at the conclusion of articles like this one about Tyler Motte.