Quinn Hughes On Track to be Best Defenceman in Canucks History

Quinn Hughes is well on his way to becoming the best defenceman in Vancouver Canucks history. The 23-year-old was selected seventh overall by the Canucks in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. Since draft day, his impact on the organization, despite getting drafted a mere five years ago, has helped bring new life to their blue line. Now captain, he will provide leadership all throughout the organization. As the Canucks enter the 2023-24 season, how has his resume positioned him to be among the greats in Canucks history?

Hughes’ Resume So Far

Hughes is a dynamic offensive defenceman. His vision, fluid skating, and knack for firing crisp passes to teammates make him a lethal weapon whenever he’s on the ice. His resume up to this point in his NHL career reflects that.

Quinn Hughes Vancouver Canucks
Quinn Hughes, Vancouver Canucks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Hughes led all rookie defencemen in scoring during his debut season, scoring 53 points in 68 games. That 2019-20 season, he was also an NHL All-Star. He has 241 points in 283 games throughout his career and holds the record for being the fastest defenceman in NHL history to reach 200 assists.

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Within the Canucks organization, Hughes has emerged as an annual record-breaker. In the 2021-22 season, he scored 68 points, setting the franchise record for most points in a season by a defenceman. He followed that up last season by breaking his record with 76 points. He is tied with Kevin Bieksa for sixth in points by a defenceman in team history with 241 and is only 168 points from tying Alexander Edler for first. His playoff resume, albeit short, shows he can play when the lights shine brightest. During the 2020 NHL Playoffs, he scored 16 points in 17 games as a rookie.

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

Hughes will crush every existing offensive record by a Canucks defenceman. He is practically re-writing the club’s history book every season while being a significant voice in the locker room. Named the Canucks‘ new captain, the only thing preventing him from grasping the mantle of the best defenceman in team history is longevity.

Who Will Hughes Have to Pass?

To be the best, Hughes must surpass the best. There isn’t a clear-cut best defenceman in franchise history, but two Swedish blueliners come to mind—Mattias Öhlund and Alexander Edler. Öhlund played 11 seasons with the Canucks. His name is splattered everywhere on the organization’s record books. Among defencemen, he is second in goals (93) and points (325), third in games played (770), and fifth in assists (232). The Ring of Honour member was a leader who brought consistency, a physical presence, and was a well-regarded teammate. His impact throughout the organization, including his mentoring of young players, helped shape the Canucks team that dominated the regular season in the early 2010s.

Alex Edler Vancouver Canucks
Alex Edler, Vancouver Canucks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Öhlund’s fellow countryman, Edler, is another notable name Hughes must pass. When it comes to offence, he owns the record book. He is first in goals (99), assists (310), points (409), and games played (925). He is the statistical benchmark for Canucks defencemen. Aside from his personal records, he was a consistent top-four defenceman during his time with the team. He was a voice on the ice, and on the bench, and contributed to the community. Hughes has a few seasons to go before he reaches Edler’s records, but within three seasons, there may be a new all-time leader in points and assists among Canucks defencemen.

Becoming Captain Helps Hughes’ Case

Hughes’ offensive capabilities are well-known. His record-breaking assist numbers, near point-per-game career pace, and on-ice resume will inevitably make him a candidate for best d-man in franchise history. However, his role as captain could push the needle.

Being a captain in the NHL is a tremendous honour. Hughes is a prominent voice in the Canucks locker room, has the support of his teammates, and appears to be a great teacher. He leads by example and prioritizes communication.

Becoming captain helps Hughes’ case. If, under his leadership, the Canucks have a couple of long postseason runs, his captaincy will be a huge success. His skill set is undeniable, but moving into a significant leadership role and succeeding on and off the ice will keep him on track to becoming the consensus number-one defenceman in franchise history.

Related: Canucks’ 3 Up, 3 Down: Captain Hughes, Lekkerimaki & More

Passing Edler, Öhlund, and other historic names such as Stan Smyl and Ed Jovanovski is more about longevity than skill. Hughes is arguably the best defenceman to play for the Canucks based on talent alone, but having a quality resume will solidify his argument. As long as he can stay consistent and healthy for the next half-decade, he should become the all-time face of the Canucks’ blue line.

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