Quinn Hughes signs with Cauncks, but NHL debut not certain
Quinn Hughes injured his ankle during his last weekend as a Wolverine, possibly delaying his first professional game.
Quinn Hughes will likely see his first NHL action soon.
As expected, the 19-year-old Michigan defenseman has signed a three-year entry-level NHL contract with the Vancouver Canucks after UM’s season ended March 9 in a two-game Big Ten Playoffs sweep by Minnesota.
Hughes was taken by Vancouver with the seventh overall pick of the 2018 NHL draft.
He was expected to arrive Tuesday in Vancouver, where the team hosts the New York Rangers Wednesday, March 13.
But Hughes injured his ankle in UM’s March 8 game and played on it in the March 9 season finale. So there’s no certainty as to when he’ll play his first NHL game.
Coach Travis Green said he hopes Hughes' transition from college hockey to pro will be clean and quick.
"He's an exciting part of our future, and I'm hoping that I get to see him sooner rather than later," he told the Canadian Press. "I plan on getting him in (the lineup) if he's here, that's for sure. I want to play him as much as I can."
Hughes’ 33 points (five goals and 28 assists) in 32 games this season led the Wolverines in scoring. He finishes his two-season collegiate career with 62 points in 69 games.
“Thank you to the coaching staff, medical staff, trainers and the best fans in college hockey,” Hughes said in a statement. “Most importantly, thank you to my teammates who made this the best two years of my life. Proud to be a part of the Michigan family. Go Blue.”
A few of his new Canucks teammates were also signed by the team after their college career ended and immediately play a few games as Hughes is expected to do.
One is star right winger Brock Boeser.
“When I played those nine games (in 2017), it proved to me how fast the game is and how strong guys are and stuff like that,” Boeser said. “You go into summer knowing what you have to do to be ready for a full NHL season.”
Adjusting to the strength of NHL players will be a key for Hughes, who is listed at 5-10 and 174 pounds. But he also played with and against NHL players last spring when he helped Team USA win a bronze medal in the World Championship as the team’s youngest player, at 18.
Vancouver center Adam Gaudette, the 2018 Hobey Baker Award winner, played five games after joining the Canucks late last season after three seasons at Northeastern University.
“It’s a small sample size, but it helps a whole heck of a lot,” he said.
Gaudette’s advice to Hughes is simple:
“Just take it all in. Don't let it slip by. Just enjoy it. You're here for the end of the season; just enjoy it and get adjusted. And then, when it’s time to come back next season, you've really got to get after it."
Quinn Hughes has two younger brothers: Center Jack Hughes of the National Team Development Program at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth Township who is projected to be the top pick of the NHL draft in June, and defenseman Luke Hughes of the Little Caesars U15 team who already has committed to play at Michigan starting in 2021.