Photo Credit: University of Michigan

Canucks select Quinn Hughes at No. 7

With the seventh pick in the 2018 draft, the Vancouver Canucks selected left-handed defenceman Quinn Hughes from the University of Michigan.

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Hughes fell to the Canucks at No. 7 as the Arizona Coyotes went completely off the board with the fifth overall pick selecting Barrett Hayton. Hughes is an undersized but  tremendously gifted offensive defenceman. He put up 29 points in 37 games as the youngest player in the NCAA last season.

We had Hughes ranked as the No. 4 prospect heading into this year’s draft.

I’ve been following Hughes for two years now and I feel comfortable saying that Quinn Hughes is one of the smoothest, most effortless skaters I’ve ever seen… at any level. When we talk about skating, there are a number of different elements we look at: top speed, acceleration, edgework, etc. Hughes has it all. Watching Hughes rush the puck up the ice is a sight to behold. He consistently uses his superior skating ability to create separation between him and his opponents. His edge control is so vastly superior to most of his peers that he is able to quickly turn or pivot and end up two or three strides ahead of a pressuring attacker.

When looking at the body of work, Hughes has separated himself from the pack. Outside of the obvious choice at first overall, Hughes is the defenceman with the best chance at being a truly special talent. If there’s any justice in this world, he’ll be the first player at that position to hear his name called after Rasmus Dahlin on draft day.

    • Defenceman Factory

      Benning and Canucks Army have been on the same prospects page quite consistently of late. CA has been complementary about Joulevi, Dahlin, Goldobin, Pettersson, Lind even Lepsic and Gadjovich. The crow they ate on MacEwan was also noteworthy.

      The narrative of Benning being nothing but an old school “hockey man” has some roots but clearly doesn’t tell the whole story.

  • Defenceman Factory

    Hoping for Wilde in the 2nd round. He and Hughes could be D partners in Michigan next year.

    Noah Dobson lets out huge sigh of relief when the most ineptly managed franchise takes Bouchard instead.

    Tavares probably re-ups now; great coach, Walstrom and Barzal on the wings and a top notch Dprospect in Dobson.

  • TD

    This draft has really shown how different people view the players and BPA.

    I also makes me wonder if BPA has to factor in some type of scale that takes into account their position. If the skill level was equal between players, centres and defence have more of an impact and are therefore valuable. There seems to be more high end wingers than centres or defence. That’s probably because the defensive responsibilities are easier limiting the number of players who can succeed as centres and defence. I wonder if we need to value players on some type of scale by position. It seems like the managers did tonight based on the picks.

    • Defenceman Factory

      Not sure that’s a good idea. Positional weighting might be more predictive of what many GMs did in the 1st round but I’m not convinced they were right. Some of the Dmen picked will turn out to be less than Stetcher. That’s not a dig on Troy but he is less than you would hope for with a first round pick. Lots of similar players that lack his work ethic end up playing in Europe.

      Some really far reaches for centre men. Time will tell if those were bad decisions but I’d predict more than one will prove big disappointments.

      • TD

        I’m not saying it has to be heavily weighted. I would compare Bo and Brock. Brock has more talent but Bo plays the premiere position. The team ranked hard when Bo was out in December. They also tanked for a bit when Brock went out at the end of the year before the great run to finish the season. Brock has more offensive talent and will probably always put up better numbers, but I’m not sure he’s more valuable to the Canucks than Bo. I’m also not saying Bo is more valuable. Is a 70 point winger more valuable than a 60 point centre on the trade market or are they of similar value?

  • El Kabong

    Very nice pick. If he still grows an inch or two that would be bonus. This pick makes me drool for the return of Tryamkin to our defence core. Hopefully tomorrow we round out our defence for years to come.

  • truthseeker

    Well I’m very happy the canucks took one of the top D and went for position. I’m really looking forward to seeing this kid play. As I mentioned in the lead up, I hope his actual point totals increase in proportion with the hype around him. Regardless though, it sounds as if the canucks got a kid who can really drive and control play so that’s a good thing in itself.

    Here him and the team suggesting it’s possible he might get a shot next season. Honestly I’d love that. And it’s nice to hear he’s closer to making it than I thought before. I was worried he’d be a “2 years down the road” type prospect, which in my opinion is a little slow for where the canucks are right now. I keep saying NHL teams baby their prospects too much so I really do hope they throw him in there for the preseason at least.

    What’s the rule for NCAA players? Do they get the same 9 game tryout thing? Or is it even more strict than that?

    Crazy draft. The Habs Ottawa (arguably) and the yotes all going “off board” to one degree or another really opened up Benning’s options.

    Anyone watching know how long the Wings were on the clock? Curious if they agonized over the choice of Hughes or Zadina or if they just ran up there to take the forward…lol.

    Regardless I’m really happy it went the way it did because I really didn’t want any of the forwards. None are convincing centers and while another good winger would obviously be of value, we really need that D built up.

    You gotta think that the Isles were the real winners of this draft though. Two of the higher ranked guys both with impressive numbers, fall to them.

    Time will tell on all of them though. It will be interesting to watch.

    • truthseeker

      Oh..and as others mentioned prior, I also really would like them to extend Tanev now. Seems to me he might be a perfect fit with this kid. Help to shelter him a bit, but also seems like, if this kid is a bit of a “rover” type, that Tanev’s game would be a perfect match to that.

    • Dirty30

      The Isles made out like bandits on this one … anyone checked the Flames board on their reaction?

      I’m not certain about NCAA rules but if its anything like the college football rules, the moment you sign a professional contract of any type (and I don’t know if Hughes can just show up and skate around looking good) then the eligibility to be a student athlete is gone.

      But if he and and the team think Quinn has a realistic shot then he can attend camp and be sent to the Comets (that keeps him closer to home and in the development system and available for bonus call-ups like Demko got).

      I was hoping for Wahlstrom and fantasizing about Zadina, but after watching the highlights of Hughes skating, passing, scoring, its no wonder JB was dancing like he had Pamela Anderson waiting in the parking lot for a quickie!

      Still lots of needs to fill on the team Hughes at least gives the Canucks some legitimacy on the back-end.

  • Ken Priestlay Fan

    Fantastic pick. My preference was Dobson, but that was more because I assumed Hughes would be gone.

    If Hughes does go pro next season, that probably puts the brakes on any Tanev trade in the short term- unless a RHD comes back the other way (Severson? Dotchin?)

    I’m really hoping they find a way to grab another 2nd round pick; despite the need for RHD, I really hope they can get Wise as I think he has 1C potential. Other than that, Wilde, Woo or Samuelson perhaps?

  • Beer Can Boyd

    Must be a good time to be an Islanders fan. Lamoirello, Trotz,Wahlstrom and Dobson all in the space of 2 weeks. Washington sent Grubauer to the Avalancher for nothing, just to keep him out of the Islanders hands. Damn, Wahlstrom AND Dobson….

    • Kanucked

      Very nice haul. Even if Tavares doesn’t sign, they have a strong foundation for the future.
      Wonder if Oiler fans will look back at this draft as another lost opportunity to Isles? They traded away the Barzal pick and passed on Dobson.

    • Dirty30

      I imagine ol’Lou sitting up late at night pondering the possibilities: “Do I let JT walk and build a dynasty on these young guys or do I sign JT, win the SC, rubbing the Laffs’ noses in it, but maybe then don’t have the cap to keep my young guys longer …”

    • jaybird43

      Barry Trotz’s record is inflated by the excellent GM in Nashville (Poile) who always has his team loaded with talent, and by the deep team he went into in Washington. I’d like to see what he does with the Islanders, as that’s more of a mid-tier team (notwithstanding the recent haul/heist of both Wahlstrom and Dobson) …

      • DJ_44

        Trotz was the Preds first coach. He patiently developed players, especially D including Dan Hamhuis. It is an outright falsehood that his team were loaded with talent.

  • Locust

    The one guy in the top ten I didn’t want. Ouch.

    Bouchard and Dobson are 25 minute a night, 800+ NHL game top minute players. I cant see Quinn ever finishing a season. He is a smurf and will make Tanev look like an ironman. Not his fault but this is a mans league.
    Quinn just doesn’t have an athletes frame and he never will. I know some will say it doesn’t matter, he’ll have the puck 90% of the time but does anyone ever see him getting through a first round series…?

    I wish him well and I hope I am wrong. Gretzky never had to play along the boards or in the corners, Quinn will have to. Tom Wilson and Quinn in the corner = who gets the puck?

    A top ten pick needs to be a guarantee. I just cant see Quinn physically surviving in the toughest league in the world. If he makes 250 games in the NHL I’d be surprised. You cant just be a 3 vs 3 and PP specialist. Again, hope I am wrong but he looks like my paper boys younger brother. Bouchard and Dobson were very safe picks. This is a stretch, which you shouldn’t be doing at #7.

    Three years from now, Canuck fans will be very happy or very sad. Keep the Kleenex close folks….

      • j2daff

        Way better? not so much… They have different strengths and weaknesses defensively. I would probably say that at current level Hughes defensive game appears stronger but part of Bouchard’s weakness closing the gap mostly due to pacing himself to be able to play 30+ minutes a game on a bad team. Playing 20 minutes a game I’d bet that Bouchard is closer to the same level, defensively possibly higher. Hughes on the other hand is not exposed the same in college as he will be in the NHL. His size will be a problem in board battles and you would be kidding yourself if you think that’s not going to happen and not going to lead to goals. In the regular season he may be able to be a net positive and make it not a big issue but come playoff time team will try to focus on it and not only likely win games because of it but also wear him down or potential even injure him. This is a legit worry unfortunately but it’s blatantly obvious. Don’t confuse the few forwards that are able to be stars with a defenseman being able to due it. Board battles will happen constantly and players will try to play you physical and skate through rather than around you. We have seen loads of cheap shots on our defense the past two years, He’ll unfortunately be an easy target… Enjoy the excitement he brings offensively but don’t hate on him when he is sheltered in games…

        Ask yourself this, what’s easier to correct, something you can learn/develop or something you need to physically change about yourself? That’s right one is not even possible. Bouchard has a lot more room and likely hood to grow as a player. He may never become a top pair guy but it’s possible although more likely a 3-4 guy. He will be a great PP QB with shot, smarts and passing ability and to be frank more effective as a PP QB long and short term until (if) Hughes improves his shot. That is the key for Hughes, he needs to be able to shoot the puck well to be the elite QB many people sees him as. If you are not a threat to actually score there is no reason for another team to chase or be drawn in. He will still get points but never come close to his ceiling without a shot.

        Bouchard’s numbers this years rank where as far as the last 10-15 years go and on a bad team? Those numbers are earned. He has his flaws but so does almost every player in this draft.

    • DogBreath

      If he plays like Duncan Keith we’ll be ok with that. Keith looked good in a Canada (not Blackhawks) jersey. You can’t have 6 small dmen, but I’ll bet you can have 2-3 of them.

        • Ser Jaime Lannister

          A number 1 D needs to excel at offence and defence, PP and PK. I asked earlier but does Hughes play on the PK at Michigan? And lets hope Boeser hooks up with him this summer and teaches this kid how to shoot please…my god that shot needs some work! 5 goals in the NCAA isnt going to cut it. Start training kid!

          • j2daff

            yes defense matters… if you are not great defensively you cannot be a top pairing dman… well you can but not on a good team in the regular season not to mention the playoffs…

            Hughes is going to have good gap control and be able to close fast and probably be sound positionally but I personally don’t see him ever being good in board battles which are a regular thing on most shift and there will a few forwards that will be able to skate through high causing some match up issues and limiting his ice time. He will be able to skate the puck out of trouble I assume unless he’s not as good as I think but against certain teams/lines he will have a hard time getting that puck. This isn’t because he’s not good but more because there are some things due to his size (reach, ability to battle and stand ground) that hockey IQ and skating of any level cannot make up for and top players will take advantage of it. Specially in the playoffs when they have up to 7 games to figure it out. Yes he will be a good player and exciting but I do not see top pairing being an option on all nights or possible any nights depending on development. Was not my pick (the Isles got both the guys I drooled over) and don’t think that will ever change, sorry if that upsets some but I’m aloud to have my own mind. I will cheer for him but truth be told he was 13th on my list going in and I truly believe that using hindsight he will never be in my top 7 but I challenge him to please prove me wrong. Yes I see his upside, yes I believe he 100% to play in the NHL, yes I believe he will be exciting. That’s why I had him at 13 but he does have limitations that some (Dobson specifically) others available did not.

            Even if he does improve his shot I question whether or not it will ever be a true threat from the point on the PP. The PP where he is supposed to shine and he will shine with zone entries (increasing zone time) good passing and hockey IQ but without a shot he’s missing a dimension needed to be an elite dynamic PP QB.

            not going to explain why I thought Wahlstrom was the right pick and best center in the draft other than… PP with Wahlstrom Petterson and Boeser would have been truly elite or about Dobson other than he has a complete game including shot great D and isn’t very far behind Hughes as far as skating…

          • truthseeker

            You make some decent points. There will be certain situations where smaller guys will have more trouble, obviously, but I think you’re over stating the case a bit. Many times board battles do not involve that much body contact and are more “stick fishing” exercises. Plenty of big strong guys can be beat in those situations as we routinely saw the Sedins do it throughout their careers. Board battles often times are simply a matter of will.

            The shot thing may or may not be a major concern. If he can’t get his shots through then yeah I’d be concerned, but if it’s just lack of power but he gets the puck to the net, I’d worry less. A booming shot is a great thing to have but it’s not a necessity.

            Whalstrom does look like a great player but you are assuming he’s a C when that is not clear. One of the big complaints about him was a scout saying he needs some one to feed him the puck because he can’t get it on his own, or words to that effect. Makes him sound more like a winger. For me D is always the choice over wing if the level of talent is basically equal. And with these two it is. Wing value is extremely low in the NHL. Nothing is worth more than D in the NHL aside from “Franchise Center” and Whalstrom is clearly not that, at this point.

            I do agree with you somewhat though. I was hoping for Bouchard or Dobson over Hughes as I do think they are more complete players even if they don’t have as much “potential” as Huges and right now taking major gambles with their first rounders isn’t something the cauncks should be doing a lot of. He’s not “way” better than those two.

            Still though it sounds like he’s closer than I personally thought and you can’t ignore his playing well against some of the best competition at the worlds.

            As usual, I’ll reserve judgement and let all of their play do the talking. Everything on message boards is just speculative BS in the end.

          • j2daff

            good points truthseeker, although I do not fully agree with all ur points there is logic in them. I My biggest issue is as a whole I think this draft (not just this one pick or purely the draft itself) could have set us up a lot better for being a contender down the road if it was approached differently. Personally I see it overall as a missed opportunity.

            I did not see the negative scouting on Wahlstorm personally or see it in his play myself either but could still be true… time will tell on all of this…

          • DogBreath

            Heard Button being interviewed and he was emphatic that Whalstrom was a winger. He said that anyone who thought he was a centre hadn’t watched him play. This was a game-changer for me.

            We’re all hoping Pettersen becomes this centre, but he too isn’t coming up through the ranks as a proven centre. I still think we’re one strong centre (and perhaps a D) from having the nucleus to carry forward. Really like what I see thus far, though.

    • Locust

      Not even close to that. The only person he was bigger than on the stage was the ten year old girl holding the jersey, he had her by a little bit. He is about 5’8′ 155lbs. Somebody like Ovie or Kopitar will just swat him away like a fly.

      • CroBear

        You can see in the pics he is close to Benning’s height, and Jimbo’s 6’0. 5’10 sounds about right. And who’s to say he won’t grow anymore. Stop being a drama queen.

    • Killer Marmot

      The NHL Scouting Combine measures both weight and height, as minor-league clubs have been know to fudge the numbers.

      The bad news — the weight and height for Hughes is missing from the report, even though he was supposed to take part.

  • jaybird43

    As for size, it’s an obvious concern, but there’s a couple of smaller wingers, you know the guys that supposedly have to go into the corners and fight for pucks that seem to do OK: Kane and Gaudreau …

    • Defenceman Factory

      Two guys world renowned for their forechecking.

      A top pair guy must face the best and meanest forecheckers in the world. Hughes elite speed and skill will get him out of trouble 95% of the time. It’s the other 5% I worry about. The 5’10” 175 lbs is simply unbelievable. I’m not saying he can’t play but when you look at people actually that size they sure look much bigger than Hughes.

      • jaybird43

        I guess my point was for Kane and Gaudreau is that they don’t have to do a lot of things that lesser talents do … they control the play and back-check adequately. I suspect that Hughes will do a lot of the same. Yes, the 5% will be trouble for him.

      • Locust

        If Quinn is 5’10” and 175 …… then I’m 7’3″ and 390.

        Who knows, maybe playing a ‘rover’ type game will work. Cant see him playing a traditional D spot though. It’s just physics….. he is so slight that one big forward takes him into the boards and boom – there goes his shoulder. More I think about it more I don’t like this pick.

        • Dirty30

          At first I was the opposite — but this guy could really change how this team plays the game.

          With the Sedins it was slow it down with the cycle and control possession… with Hughes, everything will happen faster and he still retains possession until he either sets up a scoring opportunity or scores himself.

          I doubt he will get caught in board battles because he will get on the ice, get the puck, move the puck and drive offense from the backend like we’ve never seen.

          Considering how fast Boeser gets setup in his office, he’s going to have pucks coming his way like he’s never seen from Edler.

          I’d make sure Hughes is out there with Jake who can go win board battles and come up with the puck. Since Hughes can then make things happen once he has the puck, teams may actually have to avoid getting into those board battles because Hughes will just be gone before they know it.

          There is a likelihood that the Canucks could become one of the fastest scoring PP’s in the league with Hughes doing QB duties and Boeser blasting home runs.

          Watch the tape — this isn’t Mason Raymond or Linden Vey going for a skate to nowhere — Quinn is drawing defenders, creating lanes and making tape-to -tape passes for easy tip-ins.

          Forget what you think you know about hockey — this kid is going to change this team.

          • bobdaley44

            You’re dreaming. This is the NHL. There will be board battles. The Sedins were strong and could absorb checks with the best of them. This is a gamble and my concern is can he contain a cycle down low against guys who are 200 plus pounds and can skate? You can have all the skills in the world but still gotta defend especially D. And you really think that Jake, a winger, is gonna come down low to defend for Hughes?

          • j2daff

            the only way he doesn’t have to battle on the boards is if they score every time on that rush you mention or he changes before the other team transitions. As for JV doing the battling for him… if that’s the case this is going to be a really frustrating team to watch with all the poor coverage and positioning.

            Yes they are going to get a fair amount of zone time due to his IQ, passing and ability to skate the puck in but you are wrong in thinking he will draw a lot of defenders on the PP. Just like teams stopped chasing the Henrik, if he cannot shoot (or won’t in Hanks case…) then why get drawn into him. I like this pick a lot more if he develops an dangerous shot but currently he doesn’t have anything close and it will limit him and the PP.

            He will be exciting to watch but likely never be the guy you want on a top pairing and yes his size will reduce his effectiveness defensively, the question is how much now and how much he can improve to reduce the effects… This could look like a good pick in 3-5 years but there is no way he looks like the best possible pick, even if you eliminate the surprise player or two that explode out of nowhere…

          • TD

            I’m worried about his size, but am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt after how he performed as an undrafted player at the worlds. I think it may come down to how much less the puck is in the Canucks zone compared to how much he may struggle in some parts of the dfensive game. If he can get to move pucks preventing defensive zone time then the weaknesses his size creates may not matter.

            In the end, if he generates more goals then he allows it will be a great pick. Even if he plays 5v5 even and makes a big difference on the pp then he’s helping the team. I worry Dobson may be that all around number 1 and Bouchard may be an offensive machine with his passing, vision and shot.

    • Beer Can Boyd

      Neither of those 2 players do much heavy lifting in the corners. Also, they are forwards and Hughes is a defensemen. IMO, both Dobson and Bouchard will prove to be more durable, and thus more valuable NHL players than Hughes. And there seriously is no way that the kid is 5’10” 175 lbs. Not yet, anyway.

      • j2daff

        adequate call I think but would nit pick some…

        He was 5’10” 185lbs.

        So not only bigger but also in an era when the league average was smaller. Not saying there wasn’t a lot of big body’s but the average was smaller.

        Also how many of his teams were good? Too much research for me aside from zero cups.

        • TD

          Housley was never good in his own end. Very good offensively, but was a minus player for the majority of his career. He was a good pp guy, but not 5 on 5 defensively.

        • truthseeker

          You’re also talking about a time when guys could goon it up way more than they can today. I still think the NHL is terrible for “clutch and grab” but it’s WAAAY better than it used to be.

          He’s going to have some issues at some points just like every single player in history has, but I think you might be a little too worried about this. Not saying some of it isn’t valid, just that you might be over stating it a touch. Let’s see what the kid can do before we write him off.

      • TD

        If playing time was equal, very d gets 20 minutes. 18 is borderline 3rd pairing minutes. 22 is second pairing minutes. Chara and MacAvoy were 24-25 minutes first pairing guys. That said Krug’s 60 points were very impressive.

      • Defenceman Factory

        Krug is an interesting precedent when considering Hughes. I think Hughes is smarter, more skilled and a better skater. Krug is at least 20 lbs bigger and has a cannon of a shot.

        I expect the deployment to be similar. Boston has had some massive Dmen to eat the toughest minutes and help Krug develop and thrive.

        Hughes is not going to be the stereotypical #1 Dman but he will be the highest scoring and he will be exciting.

  • Fred-65

    If we accept the Hughes scouting report about his skating and high end Hockey IQ, is this the final piece JB has been looking for. He is small in stature that put a lot of “old school” thinking poster don’t like but I read on another site that this kid has legs like tree trunks. The grit and size will join the roster but that is easier to find than finding top end skating and high IQ. Along with the prospects in the forwards roles this roster is getting close to complete. Add in a quality goal tending prospect. I don’t believe many can argue against the fact that Vcr roster has been lacking for offence from the blue line. JB should be investigated for bribery for having Mtl and Arizona make their selections, with out those picks Vcr would have missed on Hughes. I’m betting JB couldn’t believe his good fortune, Jim send Bergevin and Chayka a Christmas card, they looked like they were Canucks assitants LOL

    • j2daff

      Random grit and size are easy to find but grit and size with skill is actually harder to hind, specially if you’re looking for it in your top six of top pair…. why do you think have so little, specially with our youth. Hughes is a step above as far as skating but generally skating and hockey IQ are easier to find in a player than size and grit that will be able to contribute. Heck look no further than Madden, reports pump his skating and hockey IQ and he’s a third rounder. Did we draft a guy with size, grit and enough skill to play top six or top pair?

      • Giant-Nation

        I know we are Vancouverites and skeptical hockey people…but pump the breaks on doubting this kids ability to play defence or win board battles. He is an Elite Hockey mind that improves the offensive upside of every skater that is on the ice with him. He makes passes through legs and pulls and traps checkers in no mans land. His family talks hockey every day all day even before their teeth are brushed. His passing ability will make you think of Sedinary, his transition and pivot are lightening fast. He can not only run a power play he can pull the coaches aside and design it…he is a total x and o guy. Arguably the best skater in his class, had great numbers playing against men (not Chl) in NCAA as youngest player in NCAA. If he goes back you are looking at the last two Hobey trophy winners as Canucks. Just take a minute to understand how rare of a package this guy is in the back end. He is a offensive juggernaut that just turned or two F18’s Boeser and Pettersson into two F117 Nighthawk Stealth Fighters. This is Top Gun Offensive attack boys that is going Supersonic. Woo and Juolevi Tanev and friends will have their roles but Hughes is driving the attack into the DANGER ZONE. Get behind it and enjoy the rare skill set the kid is about to Deploy in Van City.

  • rediiis

    The Canucks are in good cap space and there is no reason for trades unless they will better the team. Free agents can move the re-build process up, but can hurt the locker room. Steady the course Mr. Benning, cups ahead.