Why you need Quinn Hughes on your fantasy hockey team this season

Photo credit:Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Noah Strang
7 months ago
With the 2023-24 NHL season just around the corner, many fans are gearing up for their annual fantasy drafts. Whether that means pouring over statistics, doing a quick google search, or picking up a few magazines, managers of fictional teams everywhere are doing their homework.
For most, that includes taking a look at the rankings put forward by some of the major sports media outlets such as ESPN.com, Yahoo!, and Daily Faceoff. All of these websites have fantasy hockey rankings for the 2023-24 NHL season live already and across all of them one thing is true: Quinn Hughes is ranked too low.
I know it’s hard to believe that people are underrating the Norris Trophy candidate Hughes, but it’s true. While his game is not suited perfectly to the scoring system most commonly used in fantasy hockey, there is still no excuse for having Hughes ranked closer to the 10th best defenceman than the 5th, or even as the 27th defenceman as one outlet did.

Where is Quinn Hughes being ranked in fantasy hockey circles? 

When you look at fantasy hockey rankings, Hughes is being ranked quite low. ESPN has Hughes as the 27th best defenceman for this upcoming season. That is one of the most popular fantasy hockey sites ranking Hughes well below market value. That projection is not based on the fact that ESPN has the Canucks doing poorly as Elias Pettersson is the third-ranked player across the entire league.
NHL.com has Hughes ranked as the ninth best defenceman and 51st overall. Yahoo! has Hughes as the seventh best defenceman and the 65th best player overall.  Daily Faceoff has Hughes ranked seventh as well among defencemen and 40th overall. 
Looking at the rankings, if you’re in a league on ESPN.com you may get the chance to draft Hughes in a really good spot. If a lot of your league mates are going off of the default ESPN.com rankings, they’re going to be drafting other players ahead of Hughes. Some of the defencemen ranked ahead of Hughes on ESPN.com include Bowen Byram, Justin Faulk, and Seth Jones, neither of which have any claim to that position no matter the scoring settings of your league.
Why is Quinn Hughes being ranked in this spot? 
While Hughes is one of the most offensively gifted defencemen in the league, his game is not perfectly suited for fantasy hockey for a few reasons. No matter if you play in a head-to-head format or a rotisserie format, many fantasy hockey leagues use a category system where your team needs to accumulate as many goals, assists, plus/minus, shots, hits, blocks, and power play points as possible.
While Hughes is a special talent in that he provides a lot of offence from the blueline, he really doesn’t help you in that many categories. Besides assists and power-play points, he has historically struggled in the other five categories. This is the reason why some fantasy hockey managers want to stay away from drafting Hughes and would prefer to go with someone like Adam Larsson who will help in a wider range of stats.

Where should Quinn Hughes rank among fantasy hockey defencemen? 

While it may seem like Hughes’ dynamic offensive play style is perfectly suited to fantasy hockey, that’s actually far from the truth. The best defencemen are the ones that can score a lot of points while also helping out in other categories where your forwards are likely going to struggle like hits and blocks.
While Hughes is never going to be known for his gritty play and will never be the fantasy hockey defenceman that’s leading your team in those categories, his offensive upside is too strong to ignore. He finished tied for the top-five league-wide in assists last year among all players. He is going to be a massive contributor in that category once again as if he stays healthy, he’s nearly a lock to finish in the top-five in assists among defencemen.
Hughes will also be a significant contributor in power-play points. He is the quarterback of the team’s top unit and racks up a ton of points with the man advantage. The Canucks power play finished just outside the top-ten last season and could improve this year as Pettersson could not buy a power play goal for a large part of last season.
Finally, Hughes could also be a sneaky contributor to plus/minus. He finished as a +15 last season despite the Canucks not being very good. If you think that the Canucks offseason additions, as well as a full year of Tocchet behind the bench, will help the team take a step forward, there is no reason to think that Hughes won’t improve on that number. This rings even more true if he spends a considerable amount of time with Filip Hronek at 5-on-5, something that is still unclear at this point.
Finally, due to the sheer amount of ice-time and offence that Hughes will demand, his shot and goal totals will not be catastrophic for a defenceman.
Quinn Hughes is firmly in the top seven fantasy defencemen and has the potential to finish even higher. You have a great chance to get one of the best players in the league in a great spot during your upcoming fantasy hockey draft, especially if you’re playing on ESPN.com where he is ranked comically low.
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