Even though the Canucks haven’t won much in the past few years as a team, us fans have still been a little spoiled in other areas. In 2017, Brock Boeser came onto the scene and had 55 points in 62 games. He also went to the All-Star game that year and won the most valuable player award at the event. Last year, it was Elias Pettersson’s turn to put on a show for Canuck fans. In his first year, the young Swede became a fan favourite, led the team with 66 points, made the All-Star game, and the Calder trophy won rookie of the year. Fast forward to right now, and we’ve seen Quinn Hughes turn into Vancouver’s number one defensemen, get props from Wayne Gretzky at the all-star game, and lead all rookies in scoring. Just in case you didn’t fully understand how rare this sort of rookie dominance is, it was recently reported that Vancouver is the first team ever to have a first year player make the All-Star game in 3 straight seasons.
With all this success from their young players, it becomes a little easier to see how the Canucks are surprising a lot of people at the top of their division this year. However, even with the talent beginning to grow over the years, it’s been the arrival of Quinn Hughes that has taken the Canucks to the next level. This year, the 20 year old is averaging over 21 minutes of ice per game, getting time on the first power play unit, and is far and away the highest point producer on Vancouver’s blue line. With what he’s accomplishing this year, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to call him one of the Canucks’ most valuable players.
Earlier this year, Hughes was being slightly overlooked in the Calder conversation because of the stellar play of Colorado’s Cale Makar. In his first 23 games, Makar had already racked up 7 goals and 18 assists, for an average of more than a point per game. Although Hughes was still playing well, people were already viewing Makar as the best rookie in the league, and for good reason. But on December 7th in Boston, he got hurt, and by no fault of his own slightly opened the door for another rookie to make a move. That rookie was Quinn Hughes. A little more than a month later, it was Hughes who went to the All-Star game, not Makar. Today, it was Hughes who scored two goals in New York (including the OT winner) to give himself the lead in league wide rookie scoring. With all this in mind, I think it’s officially time we start seeing this as a two horse race, because Quinn Hughes is making quite the argument.