Canucks defenceman using speed, smarts and stick position to defend well at NHL level
- For Quinn Hughes, simple math is adding up to major Calder Trophy consideration.
- It’s addition by subtraction as the dynamic Vancouver Canucks’ rookie defenceman has silenced those who thought he was too small, too suspect defensively and too vulnerable to injury from one of those crushing end-boards checks.
- Hughes is on pace for 67 points.
- He has blown by early 40-point projections because once anointed to anchor the league’s fourth-ranked power play — it struck for most goals (31) and most opportunities (114) heading into league play Sunday — the points were going to pile up.
- Christian Ehrhoff was 28 when he put up 50 points (14-36) for the Canucks in the 2010-11 season.
- Kevin Bieksa was 30 when he had 44 points (8-36) in the 2011-12 season which, of course, poses the question:
- How high can Hughes go?
“He’s a better skater than Ehrhoff and the majority of time, he’s going to make a great play,” added Tanev. “The way he moves and skates, it’s going to carry him a long way.”
- Hughes is in a three-way race with injured Colorado Avalanche defenceman Cale Makar, who appeared to suffer a shoulder injury Saturday when drilled into the end boards by Brad Marchand, and Buffalo Sabres winger Victor Olafsson for top-rookie honours.
- However, a seamless transition by Hughes into all facets of the game’s toughest position isn’t lost on those who get the closest look.
- Coaching can only do so much.
- You can’t teach offence or awareness or the stuff that could see Hughes follow Elias Pettersson as the Calder recipient.
- The last time teammates went back-to-back for the honour was Bobby Orr for Boston in the 1966-67 season and Derek Sanderson the following season.
- Hughes was going to be in the crosshairs this season but has avoided contact injuries by having his head on a swivel and allowing speed to keep him from collisions.
- When he did get hurt there was nobody around him.
- Hughes missed a game after a left-knee bruise Nov. 1.
- He was retreating in the neutral zone, and when trying to corral a loose puck in the second period at Anaheim, his left ankle folded under him.
Sources & Credits: Ben Kuzma, Province Sports Canucks
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