Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
We aren’t talking enough about Quinn Hughes’ blistering production with the Canucks
1 year ago
Yes, Bo Horvat has the second-most goals in the entire league.
Yes, Andrei Kuzmenko leads all first-year players in scoring.
Yes, Elias Pettersson has the best GAR in the NHL and has advanced to the upper echelon of centers.
All of these players’ performances thus far in the 2022/23 season have been nothing short of fantastic, and they’re all worth nothing less than the praise they’ve been receiving.
But seemingly lost in the shuffle is the player who is experiencing, perhaps, the most remarkable results on the season, and that’s Quinn Hughes.
Check this: as of this writing, Hughes has 21 points (all assists) in 18 games. Extrapolate that pace over a full 82-game schedule, and you’ll find that it puts Hughes on track for a 0 goal, 100 assist season.
We’ll repeat that again for the people in the back. Quinn Hughes is scoring at a 100-point pace.
Quinn Hughes, the defender. Quinn Hughes, the guy who just turned 23 years old. Quinn Hughes, the one who some folks were ready to run out of town after a difficult sophomore campaign.
That Quinn Hughes.
Hughes’ 21 assists are tied for fourth-most in the entire NHL along with Mitch Marner and Erik Karlsson. Only Nikita Kucherov, Mathew Barzal, and Connor McDavid have more.
Already a quarter of the way through the season, Hughes’ numbers can no longer be written off as a “hot start.” Stretching back into last season, he’s got 33 assists in his last 27 games. Over his last 82 games, going back to November 2021, Hughes has 71 assists and 77 points.
It’s not a streak, it’s an evolution.
It’s also something that should really stand out more to Canucks fans, who haven’t been blessed with an abundance of prolific D scorers in their franchise history.
Only five defenders have ever cracked 100 points in the NHL. We realize that Hughes is still a long way off from actually crossing that threshold, but the longer he maintains the pace, the more significant the storyline is. It’s roughly equivalent, precedent-wise, to having a forward on pace for 150 points.
If Pettersson were on pace for 150 points, folks would never stop talking about it. Yet here is Hughes, racking up a preposterous amount of points and barely attracting any notice for it.
We cannot emphasize enough how over and above the usual Canucks’ standard that Hughes’s performance is. How many Canucks’ D have ever approached 100 points? Well, given that the franchise record is Hughes’ own 68 points from last season, the answer is zero.
In fact, guess how many Canucks’ D have ever even gotten 50 points in a single season.
The answer is ten. And that’s not just a conveniently-rounded number we’re throwing out there to sound impressive. We actually went back and counted them; Doug Lidster, Dennis Kearns, Rick Lanz, Paul Reinhart, Dale Tallon, Jyrki Lumme, Kevin McCarthy, Doug Halward, Jocelyn Guevremont, and Christian Ehrhoff.
To say that Hughes’ production is unprecedented is underselling it. We might need a new word here. What’s the word for “so unprecedented, it makes all previous performances look woefully inadequate by comparison?” It probably doesn’t exist, but if it does, you can safely apply it to Hughes’ 2022/23 season.
All that, and Hughes is also playing like a two-way workhorse. He’s skating almost 25 minutes a game, and he’s only surrendered 16 even-strength goals against through more than 300 minutes of gameplay.
He’s been everything the Canucks have needed and more. Isn’t it time we started talking about what is quickly turning into one of the greatest single-season performances ever turned in by a Vancouver player?
Especially given that the Canucks had arguably never even had a number one defender before Hughes arrived?
Isn’t it a little bit silly that now we’ve got Hughes literally putting up Bobby Orr numbers, and we’re not discussing it all of the time?
It’s definitely silly, but here’s what we think is happening.
You’ve surely heard the metaphor of the frog in the slowly-boiling pot of water? Usually, that’s used to symbolize a bad situation that gets steadily worse without the “frog” in question noticing due to their immersion in the “pot.”
Well, Quinn Hughes is like the anti-frog-in-the-pot. He was so good right away that folks were already anointing him as the most talented defender in franchise history during his rookie season, and that set a pretty high standard of expectations.
Sure, Hughes is currently blowing right over and above even those loftiest of expectations, but when they were there from the jump, it’s sometimes hard to impress.
In other words, Canucks fans are the “frog” sitting in the “pot” that is Quinn Hughes’ excellence. The pot was already pretty warm when you jumped in, and has been getting steadily warmer, but it’s hard to notice from the inside…even now that Hughes is “bubbling over” into truly legendary numbers.
Again, let’s not mince words. Hughes is scoring at a rate that only Hockey Hall of Famers have ever approached before. So long as he maintains anything like this pace, he’s going to receive Norris Trophy votes.
So, let’s talk about it, and let’s all try to appreciate it right here, in the moment.
Seasons like the one Hughes is having don’t come around very often.
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