70

Who Will Be Quinn Hughes’ Defense Partner In 2019/20?

There’s little doubt that Quinn Hughes will be playing for the Vancouver Canucks in the 2019/20 season. The seventh overall pick in the 2018 Entry Draft has done everything he can at the college level and has demonstrated more than enough skill to jump into the NHL immediately. In fact, the Canucks reportedly considered signing Hughes following the 2019 World Junior Championships and starting his pro career midseason—which shows just how NHL-ready the organization believes him to be—and you can probably count on him getting a late-season audition if Michigan’s playoff run ends early.

With Hughes’ spot on the roster already pencilled in on the left side of the Canucks’ blueline, the question arises of who will be joining him on the right. There are plenty of options for Hughes’ future defence partner—both within the organization and elsewhere in the hockey world—but the choice will have to be made carefully. The quality of the defender Hughes ends up partnering with could go a long way toward determining how successfully he transitions into the NHL.

The In-House Options

Chris Tanev

If the Canucks hang on to Tanev through the 2019 Trade Deadline and offseason, it will be because they plan on partnering him with Quinn Hughes. In many ways, the ultra-steady, defense-first Tanev represents the perfect partner for an offensively-gifted rookie. That being said, Tanev is in the midst of a poor season, and the Canucks could end up cashing out on him while he’s still healthy and valuable—so he might not be around when Hughes joins the team. 

Troy Stecher

Stecher has developed into a solid two-way presence on the Vancouver blueline, and his intelligent playstyle could prove to be a positive influence on the young Hughes. The downside to playing Hughes alongside Stecher, however, is their mutual lack of size. The league has changed—but it probably hasn’t changed enough to justify playing two miniature defenders together for an extended period of time in the rough-and-tumble Western Conference.

Erik Gudbranson

Even the most dedicated of Gudbranson stans probably don’t want to see this happen. Attaching the defensive anchor that is Gudbranson to Hughes’ rookie campaign would be the quickest way to ensure disappointing results and would severely cripple his ability to showcase his free-ranging skills.

Jalen Chatfield

The Canucks’ defensive prospect cupboard is currently rather thin on the right side, and Chatfield is the best of the bunch. A defence-only defenseman in the Chris Tanev-mould, Chatfield has been steadily progressing with Utica but hasn’t distinguished himself as a bonafide NHL prospect yet—to say nothing of being ready for big league action. 

The Free Agency Market

If the Canucks are unsatisfied with their in-house options, the next-most direct method of finding a partner for Hughes will be the unrestricted free agency market. Unfortunately, it will be slim pickings for right-handed defensemen in the summer of 2019.

Erik Karlsson, San Jose Sharks

Karlsson isn’t just the best right-handed defenseman on the free agent market, he’s the best player, period. If Karlsson does reach free agency, the Canucks will definitely have enough cap space to sign him and the draw of Elias Pettersson might be enough to attract him—but his probable $12 million or more contract would eventually cause problems.

Tyler Myers, Winnipeg Jets

Myers is the second-best right-handed defenseman on the market, and at 6’8” and 229 pounds he’d certainly make up for Hughes’ lack of size. The sheer amount of ice that Myers can cover would open up more space for Hughes to work his magic. Myers has played for a contender in Winnipeg the past few seasons and is just 28, so his experience in partnering with skilled defenders could come in handy for years to come—but he’ll be expecting an overpayment in this shallow UFA pool.

Anton Stralman, Tampa Bay Lightning

At 32 years old, Stralman wouldn’t represent anything more than a short-term solution as Hughes’ defence partner. However, if the Canucks do decide to move Chris Tanev at some point in the near future, the super-steady Stralman could step in on a two- to a three-year contract and provide ample defensive cover. Stralman has experience working with Victor Hedman, another enormously talented defenseman. 

The Trade Targets

There are a handful of interesting players that have been put on the trading block this season that could potentially fit well with Hughes—and that wouldn’t break the bank to acquire.

Neal Pionk, New York Rangers

Pionk’s name has been raised in a handful of trade rumours this season, and it seems to be because his age of 23 years old puts him just outside the range of the Blueshirts’ current rebuild. Pionk has consistently put up a 0.5 points-per-game average across two NHL seasons, and his game has a physical element to it—making him a well-rounded potential partner for Hughes. The Rangers would almost certainly ask for picks and prospects in return.

Radko Gudas, Philadelphia Flyers

Gudas is one of the most physical defenders in the NHL, but he also possesses an underrated skill level. It feels like Gudas has been around forever, but he’s just 28—meaning he could serve as Hughes’ defensive anchor and personal bodyguard for years to come. With one year remaining on his contract, Gudas is seen as expendable in Philadelphia due to their influx of young defenders—but he still won’t come cheap. 

Nikita Zadorov, Colorado Avalanche

Zadorov’s name has been added to the Colorado trade block of late, and he represents yet another physical force to potentially ride shotgun with Hughes. Zadorov is essentially Nikita Tryamkin with a mean streak—and with the ability to play the right side, despite his left-handedness. The contending Avalanche may be looking for a roster player in return for Zadorov. 

The Long-Term Solutions

The Canucks’ best bet may be to seek out a long-term defence partner for Hughes—someone that’s also just embarking on their NHL career, and may be able to develop alongside Hughes for years to come. There are a handful of bluechip right-handed defence prospects around the league that may be available for one reason or another—their team’s contention status or defensive depth, primarily—and that the Canucks could target as a more permanent solution for the team’s future top-pairing.

Timothy Liljegren, Toronto Maple Leafs

The Leafs have reportedly made Liljegren available in their quest to build a Stanley Cup champion, and the Canucks should be very interested in the former 17th overall draft pick. There was once a time when Liljegren was the most-hyped player in his draft class and—although he’s having a tough sophomore season—he remains a top-flight prospect whose game would mesh quite well with Hughes’.

Adam Fox, Carolina Hurricanes

If Fox doesn’t sign with the Hurricanes during the upcoming offseason, he’ll enter his senior season with Harvard as a pending unrestricted free agent—and Carolina will be much more open to moving him. Fox and Hughes are the two more dynamic offensive defenders in the NCAA, and Fox could be interested in joining his World Junior teammate in Vancouver to form an extremely potent pairing.

Cal Foote, Tampa Bay Lightning

The Lightning are another team that is in full-on Stanley Cup contender mode, and so the likelihood of them moving notable prospects is significantly increased. Foote—the son of former NHLer Adam Foote—is a massive 20-year-old with a bit of offensive pop and most of a pro season already under his belt.

Dante Fabbro, Nashville Predators

Fabbro is another prospect who could become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2020 if he does not sign with his drafting team. Hailing from New Westminster, Fabbro has major ties to the Vancouver organization and would be a logical target for the Canucks if Nashville does end up trading him—which is a distinct possibility thanks to their outrageous defensive depth. As a dynamic offensive talent with a strong work ethic, Fabbro could match the heightened pace of Hughes’ play.

Ethan Bear, Edmonton Oilers

Peter Chiarelli’s parting gift to the Oilers was a bounty of depth defenders, and that could make a prospect like Bear available at the Trade Deadline as Edmonton desperately tries to make the playoffs. He’s impressed in a couple of NHL auditions already and offers the kind of balanced two-way play that would make for a steady and reliable Hughes’ partner.

  • ST (this season) he plays with Tanev. If Tanev is traded, its going to be Guddy. Not my ideal either, but Guddy’s best season was playing with Campbell. I’m sure that’s not lost on Benning.

    MT – I like him being paired with Stralman for a 1-2 years.

    LT – Woo is going to make the team, and will be a solid partner for Quinn. He skates well, good offensive instincts, and is a rock in the d-zone.

  • Despite it burning a year of his contract, having Hughes play at the end of this season will let the Canucks know where his game is and help determine what kind of partner he needs. Will he need a mentor to assist with his development or can he play with another rookie. Most need a mentor, but some players have the skill and maturity where they don’t need the mentoring of a vet.

  • I’d like to see Karlsson picked up in free agency but I would not play him with Hughes. Only one of them can have the puck at a time, it’s better to keep them on separate pairings unless it’s the power play (at least we can compensate for the ineffective neutral zone drop pass a bit). Plus you don’t want Karlsson babysitting Hughes on his rookie season, it’s better to put Hughes with a defensively responsible guy like Tanev who can let Hughes take chances.

  • Why would you trade Tanev and sign Stralman, who would cost at least as much and is 3 years older? Also, half of your “futures” guys are LHD.

    I’m going to play Jim Benning for a moment, and outline the moves I’d make before next season.
    Trade deadline: I’d trade Edler (1st round pick or Lilijgren), Sutter (best pick offered, but at least a 2nd rounder), Gudbranson (anything, literally), and any of Eriksson, Schaller, or Granlund, if anyone offers.

    Off season: Sign Karlsson and Ferland

    After this, the 2019 Canucks are as follows:

    EP, Boeser and Ferland

    Bo, Baertschi and Leivo

    Gaudette, Roussel and Virtanen

    Beagle, Motte and either Ericsson or Granlund

    Julolevi – Tanev

    Hutton- Stecher

    Hughes- Woo

    Markstromm- Demko

    There would be a ton of competition amongst the likes of McEwen, Schaller, Boucher, Gagner etc for the 13th forward, and on defense there is Biega, Schenn, Hatfield and others vying for a spot.Plus, you’d still have their own 2019 draft pick and whatever they get in trades for the vets.

    • “Also, half of your “futures” guys are LHD.”

      I really wish people wouldn’t make stuff up. All of Liljegren, Fox, Foote, Bear, and Fabbro shoot right.

      Zadorov is the only LHD on the list, and he regularly plays the right-side.

    • I like what you’re saying but there is no way that an NHL goes with three rookie defenders. We will need at least one tough old vet hopefully on nothing more than a two years deal.

      • I’m good with Goldy if he can beat out someone on the list. As for using 3 rookie d-men, Hughes has already been conceded a spot, and no way the other 2 can be worse than Gudbranson and Pouliot. Both of whom have seemingly reached their career peaks, and may already be on the way down. I’d rather watch young guys make mistakes while learning, than vets who have been in the league for years make the same mistakes every game.There will be growing pains, but imagine this team in 2021 and later. With 2 more years worth of draft picks pushing for spots.

        • It’s the NHL. It’s not a learning league. If you’re not ready you don’t play. How’s Pujarvi’s learning experience been? Growing pains would be getting crushed on a regular basis. That should create some great culture. Try signing or holding on to any free agents.

          • “Growing pains would be getting crushed on a regular basis” Pouliot and Gudbranson get crushed every night. Experienced and bad still equals bad. Consider the early years of the Oilers dynasty, and a brief comparison. They finished 14th and 16th in a 21 team league in their first 2 seasons. Can you compare that team to the current Canucks? Lets see. Generational superstar? Check. Bullish, team leading second line center? Check. High scoring winger? Check. Smooth skating puck moving defenseman? Check. Their defensemen? Coffey 19, and Lowe, Huddy and Ristolainen, all 21 years old. How did that turn out for them?

          • I should also note that in my hurry to post my team of the future, Trashed by 14, cheered by 1 who has vision, (not me). I somehow forgot to include my other off-season signing! So, the defensemen would actually be

            Julolevi- Karlsson

            Hutton- Stecher

            Hughes-Tanev

            with Woo and Biega on the bench. So only 2 rookies. Better?

          • Beer Can, normally your posts are great. Karlsson at $10-12million that he’s going to get on the open market? Not worth it. Petey could be $10 mill and Brock $8-9million. Let’s bring in the big free agents to finalize the missing piece. Not during this building stage.

  • His lack of NHL size on D is a major concern in a division full of big, mean offensive beasts like Lucic, Getzlaf, Kopitar and Matt Tkachuk.

    No point losing a year of his ELC contract on this terrible team (D) either, so best get him bulked up in the summer and start him off in Utica next season. After all, we cannot afford another yo-yo tweener who can’t stick like Gaudette or Brisebois that’s fer sure!

    Let’s just hope Hughes isn’t another over-hyped BUST like Juolevi though eh.

        • Yawnnnnnn – Way too easy…

          ” The Canucks need players that can contribute out of the gate, particularly on D. I would take *Liljegren or Heiskanen*. *Glass or Vilardi* if they go for the future. Hopefully it’s a player that is close to NHL ready come September” – Dud Poile

          “and whatever high end player they pick up this draft – either *Tkachuk* or my preference *Nylander*”. – Dud Poile

          “Juolevi, Gaudette, Brisebois,Rodin,McEneny,and Subban will all push for jobs this season and Green has the mandate to integrate them.” – Dud Poile

          Whoops… run along again mentalist – tail between legs.

          • You are a weird troll. Digging up all those posts is taking time from your life of picking scabs and eating them.

          • petey 40 says run along, and here she is with another weekly troll name change disguise. Where’s timmay today? Ran along?

  • I would love to see the Canucks trade for someone like Liljegren or Fabbro. I’m just not keen on robbing Peter to pay Paul (trading away young prospects to acquire them). If I were Benning, I would be willing to trade someone like Kole Lind and/or possibly even DiPietro for Liljegren to acquire a good young right-handed defenseman. Otherwise, I might target Myers. Karlsson is tempting, but I’d be wary of spending so much money on a big-name free agent. I’m more in favor of old school building through the draft and trades, adding finishing touches with a couple of free agents.

  • Good list. I wonder about David Savard in Columbus. They have to re-sign Nutivaara this summer and I don’t think they are going to want to pay a 4/5 guy $4.25M for the next two seasons.

    • An interesting suggestion. Savard would probably have to be a draft day acquisition, but I can see a fit.

      Another potential name is Josh Manson. I don’t think Anaheim would trade him, but who really knows what’s going on there. He’d be a brilliant partner for Hughes.

  • It’s incredibly unsexy, but I’d be fine bringing back Biega and also signing a guy like “is a league average NHL right side defenceman” Nick Jensen to support Tanev and Stetcher on the right side. I’d much prefer that to spending too much money on Tyler Myers.

      • Definitely traded or otherwise off the roster. The gap between Gudbranson and league average is a chasm.

        Jensen isn’t especially physical (limiting his “character and intangibles “) and doesn’t play the powerplay, (limiting his production). Ideally, this keeps his FA contract fairly reasonable.

        If this happens I’m going on record: best Nick Jensen in Vancouver Canucks history.

      • Biega is a fine 6/7 defenseman making 6/7 defenseman money. Tyler Myers has the potential to be the Loui Eriksson of the 2019 free agent Dmen (way too many years for too much money, hopefully not with Vancouver). Agree to disagree.

        • Ask any Buffalo fan what they thought of Myers play after his great rookie season. “The tall, puck-moving blueliner had earned accolades as the league’s top rookie in 2010. That year, he scored 11 goals and added 37 assists for 48 points. His follow-up seasons (37 points in 80 games in 2010-11, 23 points in 55 games in 2011-12, eight points in 39 games in 2012-13, and 22 points in 62 games in 2013-14), never quite lived up to his rookie year in Buffalo.”

  • Am I the only one wondering if it’s time to pump the brakes a little on Quinn Hughes making the jump so fast? I am not going to deny his ability, but the guy has gone from a +14 to a -6 this year with a small but not overwhelming increase in offensive numbers, while U of M, a pre-season favourite to make the Frozen Four, will now need a miracle run or to win the Big 10 tournament to even get into the regionals. Quinn Hughes also played reasonably well but certainly didn’t dominate the World Junior tournament, with 2 points in Team USA’s 7 games. Undeniably a future NHLer, and probably a very good one, but one would have to find his play in his draft+1 year to be a little bit disappointing considering that the hype train was running off the tracks after last season. Is it perhaps not outside the realm of possibility that Hughes starts next year with Utica?

    Also, there is a missing category here, which is the thought of potentially matching him with another lefthanded defenceman. Some guys are no good at it, but there are a few guys not listed in the above categories because of their handedness that I would still trust over eg: Gudbranson to line up across from Quinn, if he is in the NHL.

    • Hughes is a rover and will remake the Canucks PP.
      You can line him up him with any defensively D player that can pass the puck effectively and make up for his lack of size in front of Markstrom/Demko.
      Tanev would be my first choice.

    • I don’t know the intricacies of hockey enough to get a lot of nuances, but watching Hughes live definitely has its ups and downs. He can be breathtaking and head-scratching literally 4-5 times in one shift. I can definitely see his passing and skating translating to the NHL, but man, when he gets burned, its basically a Stephen King novel. I have no idea how Green will pull the reins on him and not lose any of his offensive flair. Fingers crossed for sure.

    • The reason why I think Hughes could make the jump is because he played well at both the WJC and WC. He got good reviews against cream of the crop NHL prospect on NHL sized ice and actual NHL players, albeit on a larger rink size. He’s putting up points in thr NCAA and although he’s making mistakes, I think he’s smart enough and confident enough to do his improvement in the NHL.

    • I was looking at stats last week, and Quinn Hughes is the 5th highest scoring defenseman (points per game) in NCAA hockey. He is the highest among defensemen his age. That’s fairly promising;

    • I’m with you on this one, Chris. Love his offence and transition, but concerned that his small size (ie, he’s not physical) and high turnover ratio risks doing more harm than good. He’s been pegged as a top 2 D. I hope I’m wrong, but if things go poorly, I could also see him being a sheltered 5-6 who gets tonnes of PP time.

    • No , you’re not. The media and fans need to get onboard with the fact that the breakout year for the Canucks becoming a solid playoff and then cup relevant team is still a few years in the future. There is nothing long term to lose by Hughes
      learning the pro game in Utica before joining the Canucks. Indeed this year , can he play a few games with the Canucks and then go to Utica the last few weeks of their season and then into the playoffs ? then the first half of next season also in Utica. That can only help and rushing to the NHL for zero reason can certainly harm. I am all for prospect hockey trades for defensemen . Would a current playoff team want Virtanen’s NHL now performance and future potential for a can’t miss , former 1st round NHL prospect D that would be playing good NHL hockey when the breakout year comes round ? or Di Pietro ? . These are the types of deals that should definitely be in the mix . We will have some more decent prospects after 2019 draft. Canuck faithful are over valuing Tanev. Granted his contract is good but he provides no offense and is injury prone. The prospective trade partner would really have to be up against it this year. If he has an injury free season next year then a trade would be easier .

  • Hughes will be a scoring defenseman but not a number one in the usual sense of a stud D man. So he’ll spend most of his time on the PP and sheltered minutes against slugs who he can pull away from with superior skating.
    A valuable guy to have who just needs a steady partner. Tanev could easily do it but I prefer him with Eddie as the shutdown guy. Given that Hughes 5 on 5 will likely be limited for a few years his perfect partner would be someone who can kill penalties and defend on his own if need be. With that criteria Beiga could do it while Woo or someone else progresses. I wouldn’t go looking for the perfect partner yet as Hughes won’t be getting a lot of difficult ice time.
    And we need to see him at the end of the year so Canucks can tell him what to work on.
    With Hughes you need a top pair who can play 25+ minutes.
    A second pair who can play 20+ minutes leaving him at about 5 even strength minutes a game due to fact Canucks run a one D power play and he can get most of it.
    The only concern at this point is his shot is not NHL calibre.

    • I don’t disagree, but a reminder that sometimes guys get a lot better unexpectedly. Look at Hutton’s surprise first season where he made the team – he came to camp and played his way into the lineup. It’s not unreasonable that another D prospect, Woo or another, works his butt off and finds his groove during the summer.

  • It seems absolutely crucial Benning figures out who the right guy to play along side the very talented Quinn Hughes because rookie Ds most need the benefit of veteran mentorship. I agree it should not be Gudbranson and Canuck fans may have to live the idea of Edler or Tanev or both staying on board for a little while longer. If Juolevi too is inserted into the line up sooner than later that’ll make two rookie blue liners on the same roster, potentially a precarious scenario. Most of the guys listed in the article seem pretty good but Myers would demand and get Big Coin from any interested party. Erik Karlsson would be a dream but my spider sense tingles telling me it won’t happen. Just don’t throw too many unproven rookies into the mix particularly if you want this team to contend.

  • If Tanev’s play is worse this season then trading him now makes no sense at all unless you believe he’s totally incapable of ever playing better than this again. Like selling a stock at it’s low point.

    30 year old Jake Muzzin traded to the Leafs for a 20 year old 2nd round pick D man, a 21 year old 2nd round pick wing prospect, and Toronto’s first round pick this year. The value of D remains extremely high.

    Edler or Tanev for some one like Liljegren (who was demoted to the ECHL…yeah I know “conditioning stint”) alone? Liljegren could just as easily be the next Pouliot as he could be a solid NHL player. Edler and Tanev may not be Muzzin, but they are certainly worth more than a single prospect or a single late first round pick with it’s low odds of success. And nobody has made a decent argument to counter those points.

    You’ve put together a good list of options. Unfortunately I think most of them are impractical. The trade targets will cost too much in terms of canuck draft picks or prospects, as will the FA’s in terms of cap crippling contracts. I think the only good option was the prospect FA’s. The canucks should try to take advantage of that and if they can’t then they should look to simply draft more young D men and hope one of them lucks out in the development cycle.

    • I think the concern with Tanev would be that his many injuries have caused his game to deteriorate permanently, rather than him just having a bad season. I’m not saying that’s the case, but it isn’t out of the realm of possibility. The Canucks are better positioned to make a decision on that than us fans.

      I think the idea of Tanev–possibly even retained to further entice contending teams–for one of the young defenders I listed isn’t too far-fetched. Perhaps the other team would need to add a mid-round pick or another prospect. I was actually planning on writing an article about the idea in the near future, so I don’t want to get too into it. But I think I would say yes to Tanev for Fabbro especially.

      • No, you’re right, it certainly could be a possibility. And if the canucks believe that is the case then a decision could be made on those grounds. I think those on the outside are a little quick to write off guys as they hit their late twenties though. Far to much importance is place on that “age curve” graph.

        I think a guy like Tanev kind of mirrors Hamhuis quite a bit. The canucks were too quick to give up on that guy in my opinion, simply because the perception was a lot like Tanev’s right now. And Hamhuis was even older, then went on to play some very solid seasons with the Stars. Season’s the canucks could have used.

        I personally don’t believe Tanev is “at the end”. I think he can easily provide another 3 minimum and probably more like 5 solid seasons.

        Again I have to disagree that the risk of accepting a single return of a prospect who has never played an NHL game like Fabbro or Liljegren, is so not worth what we’d be giving up in terms of what Tanev should provide for the next few years. There is only around a 21% chance that those two will end up being top 4 defenders. And as I said before in another post, the most likely outcome for guys like that will be around a “4” type player.

        https://www.tsn.ca/statistically-speaking-nhl-draft-pick-values-1.1119528

        So they most likely will be 200 game NHL players (but less than “NHL regular”). That’s basically what Pouliot is. Or is becoming as he looks right now.

        Even if we assume injuries for Tanev, which is unfair, and say he only gets into 50 games a year, he’ll still be more value than a “4” ranked player on that list. He’s on pace to play way more than 50 this year.

        I’ll give you the argument if you believe Tanev is completely done as a player and everything is for sure going to be down hill for him for the rest of his career. If you really believe that, then OK sure, one single prospect might be worth that.

        But do you believe that’s what Tanev will be? I don’t. Therefore I believe his return should be at minimum one decent prospect plus a 1st round pick. Especially if a guy like Muzzin brings back way more than that.

        The failure rate of prospects and draft picks picked in that area is just way to high to give away good NHL talent for a single piece with zero NHL experience.

        • Oh sorry Steven….I misread that and thought you meant that the canucks would have to add another piece.

          Yes, I agree that if it were someone like Fabbro and another piece then that would be reasonable.

          • Fair enough. I’ll be the first to admit I don’t delve deep into individual prospects in terms of why they might be different from any other similar prospect, so I just stick with a collective approach and judge based off of the basic success rates. I don’t deny there are for sure factors that might make one individual preferable over another and thus increase said individual’s value. Obviously the canucks saw something in EP’s value, for example, that they considered “better” than those around or even “better” than him.

            In a case like that, I’d just have to hope it works out in spite of the success rate numbers.

  • Benning spent time in Boston, they have a history of hanging onto veterans for mentoring as they fade into the sunset. Tanev is not being moved because of Hughes’s arrival!

  • I don’t see it being Tanev because Green will likely continue with the Edler-Tanev pairing to match up against opponents’ top lines. And we are likely to see Green continue with Hutton-Stecher as the 2nd pairing.

    So, if there are no changes, Guddy it is. Not the best situation to push a rookie into, but since he would get high OZS with Petey’s line, likely he will not have to worry about Guddy overhandling the puck. Plus, he should start taking more of the PP1 time.

    I do not see the Canucks trading away Guddy before their other RHDs are ready, and they have a bit much invested in Guddy to just get rid of him for nothing. So, I do not see them going after a RHD UFA to fill in and trade Guddy before those prospects arrive in the NHL in the next 1-2 years (their timetable).

    I don’t see Chatty being ready just yet, and Canucks will be very careful with Woo’s progression, not wanting to repeat the mistakes they made with Virtanen and McCann. So Woo IMO is highly likely to be in the WHL next season as well. Have no idea where to project a Mitch Eliot, or even Matt Brassard should he be signed, except to see them slowly developing in Utica before any NHL potential.

    So, for the 2019-20 season, I see Hughes being paired up with Guddy.

  • This article is putting the cart well before the horse. There are serious questions as to Hughes’ ability to play at the NHL level. I was at Michigan’s recent showcase game against the Nittany Lions at MSG. His performance there was extremely concerning. At one point an unnecessarily flashy play as the last man back led to him being stripped of the puck, resulting in a breakaway goal. Another time his drop pass went straight to a penalty-killer leading to … another breakaway goal. The kid was basically a turnover machine and his lackadaisical defensive play and dipsy-doodling directly led to three goals against by my count. So, if you find yourself tearing your hair out over Pouliott’s turnovers, Hughes’ game may put you at risk of a heart attack. Very bad habits are creeping into his game and it’s clearly undermining his team. Michigan started the season ranked the fourth best squad in the NCAA, but has underperformed to a mediocre 9-10-6 record. Much of this can be pinned on Hughes. While he has three goals and 20 assists in 21 games this season, he’s also a minus 6. So, don’t anoint this young man as the franchise’s savour quite yet. I can’t see Green tolerating his defensive lapses – he makes Goldobin look conscientious – and he will probably require a season or two in the AHL to bring some defensive structure to his game. So, let’s tone down the hype.

    The kid is more project than prodigy.

    • Best post on the thread. We keep hearing this same ‘fanboy’ narrative with every Canucks prospect it seems, but since 2014 only Boeser and Pettersson have lived up to and actually exceeded expectations. Need to pump the brakes on these kids big-time.

      • Bendoverville troll is back, What’s with “we”? Every other canucks site you troll you talk about the canucks being nothing but garbage. One could assume that’s where you dine and shop, in the garbage. You seem to be an expert.

        • Quinn is the one driving play.
          Only six Wolverines of twenty-six have a positive +/-.
          His defensive partner coverage while he drives plays and the coaches defining and/or instructing said D partner adequately is an issue.
          “Let’s” see how he plays with NHL defense partners backing his play before defining him as a “turnover machine” ,having “very bad habits” and being “lackadaisical defensively”.
          Blaming Hughes for undermining his team’s season and fortunes from one game’s perspective while leading the team in scoring is highly selective negativity.

  • “The seventh overall pick in the 2018 Entry Draft has done everything he can at the college level”

    Uh, not to be too nit picky, but didn’t he return to college this year because he a) wanted to lead his team to a national title and d) show he was the best player in college hockey i.e. win the Hobey Baker award?

    Pretty sure he hasn’t/won’t accomplish either at this point. Will he play in the NHL next season? Most likely.