Quinn Hughes leads Canucks from qualifying series into 1st round
Quinn Hughes thinks that he and the Vancouver Canucks will continue to improve as the postseason progresses.
Hughes, the 20-year-old rookie defenseman who played at the University of Michigan and the National Team Development Program before being the seventh overall pick of the 2018 NHL draft, and the Canucks face the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues in the first round of the NHL Playoffs. Game 1 of the best-of-seven series is at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Western Conference Hub city of Edmonton at Rogers Place.
Hughes had a goal in five assists for a team-leading six points in a qualifying-series win over the Minnesota Wild in four games (three games-to-one). The goal and one of the assists came in the clinching Game 4, a 5-4 overtime win on Friday.
Hughes had eight goals and 45 assists for 53 points in 68 games during the regular season – which was ended prematurely on March 12, because of the Covid-19 Pandemic – and is a finalist for the Calder Trophy, which goes to the league’s top rookie.
"You guys all know how good he is," Hughes defense partner Christopher Tanev said on NHL.com. "He's going to be the best defenseman in the league – if he's not there next year or the year after, he's going to be there soon.
"The way he skates, the way he moves the puck, he's a special player – and he's going to be the best player around for a long time coming. We're happy he's on our team."
Hughes assisted on all three goals in Game 3 in Vancouver’s 3-0 win on Thursday.
"I think I liked my game in all the games," Hughes said. "It's hard maybe sometimes being off four-five months coming right back into it – especially playoffs. ... As we go further and further, I think we'll just get better.”
Hughes said playing with Tanev has been a big reason for his own success.
"I don't think you can put a price on it – I think (Tanev) does a lot of things in the D-zone that I'm not capable of doing," Hughes said. "As we've played longer and longer together, my offensive game has gotten better. Chris is the heart and soul of this team … He's been big for me not only on the ice but off the ice as well."
It was the Canucks’ first postseason series win since 2011, when they lost the Stanley Cup Final to the Boston Bruins in seven games.
"It's a huge win for the team and the organization,” Hughes said after the qualifying series-clinching victory. “We expected this, and hopefully we're not done."