PatDown: Canucks' Quinn Hughes is doing things that few defencemen have done before
That’s it. That’s the entire list of National Hockey League defencemen since the start of the millennium to record 70 assists in a single season.
The Nashville Predators captain did it last year as part of his incredible 23-goal, 96 point campaign.
So just once in the past 23 seasons has an NHL defenceman cracked the 70-assist mark.
And to provide a little further context to just how rare a 70-apple season is for a blueliner, prior to Josi you have to go back to Brian Leetch in 1995-96 to find the next guy that accomplished the feat — and Leetch finished with 70 on the nose and he did it with a helper in game 82 that season and finished with a flurry picking up five assists in his final four games.
All of this brings us to this season where are all indications are that two defencemen will get to 70 assists — and one of them is Quinn Hughes.
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After this weekend’s action, Erik Karlsson of San Jose is sitting at 65 assists while Hughes was in on all four goals the Vancouver Canucks scored in their sweep of southern California. And with two helpers in Anaheim on Sunday, Hughes reached the 60-assist mark for the second straight season.
Quinn Hughes recorded 60 assists for the second straight season and became the second skater in @Canucks history to hit the mark multiple times, joining Henrik Sedin (6x).#NHLStats: https://t.co/V30QteHSN3 pic.twitter.com/gKsRRX9D8j
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) March 20, 2023
Karlsson has an outside shot at 80 assists which is hard to comprehend given the position he plays and the state of the franchise for which he plays.
Hughes won’t get to 80, but with 13 games to go it is worth asking where he’ll top out.
Henrik Sedin holds the franchise record for assists in a single season with 83. That was back in the 2009-10 season. Henrik, in fact, has the three best set-up seasons in Canucks history with 83, 75, and 71. He also had a 67-assist season which was matched by J.T. Miller a year ago.
Hughes topped out at 60 last season and he did so in 76 games.
This time around, he’s at 60 through the team’s first 69 games but the 23-year-old missed four games in the early going so he has suited up 65 times.
That means Hughes has reached 60 assists in 11 fewer games than he did last season and the way he’s playing and the way the top players on this team are scoring, it stands to reason that Hughes won’t be slowing down until the Canucks reach the end of their schedule on April 13 in Arizona.
For the Canucks, ultimately this will be another lost season and another year without playoff hockey. But when you consider only one defenceman in the league has cracked the 70-assist mark since he was born, it’s impossible to say this has been a meaningless season for Hughes.