Chasing history: Hughes on pace to break two longstanding Canucks records

Mar 9 2022, 10:31 pm

It’s hard to fathom that this is actually Quinn Hughes’ first full NHL season.

As we approach the two-year anniversary of the COVID-induced shutdown back in 2019-20, it’s worth remembering just how special Hughes’ rookie season was.

It’s also worth remembering that the pandemic robbed him of potentially breaking a number of records.

At the time of the shutdown, Hughes had 53 points in 69 games. He would have undoubtedly broken Dale Tallon’s franchise record of 56 points from a rookie blueliner that has stood since the Canucks’ inaugural season in 1970-71.

Heck, he even had an outside chance at breaking Elias Pettersson’s franchise rookie record of 66 points.

While rookie records are now off the table, here are two more historical marks that Hughes is currently chasing.

1. Most points in a season by a Canucks defenceman

Current record holder: Doug Lidster (63 points, 1986-87)

At this current juncture, Hughes has 44 points in 53 games.

Although he’s missed four games in total, Hughes is on pace for 64 points in 78 games.

His most recent streak has helped him get closer to that goal. The 22-year-old has two goals and 10 points in his last eight games.

Another oddity to watch for this month is that Hughes has never scored a goal in March during his short NHL career. Aside from the 12 games he played in May of last year, Hughes has scored a goal in every other month of the regular season.

2. Most assists in a season by a Canucks defenceman

Current record holder: Dennis Kearns (55 assists, 1976-77)

When Dennis Kearns set this franchise record back in 1977, the first Star Wars movie hadn’t even been released yet.

It’s been a while.

Currently, Hughes has 40 assists in 53 games this season. With 25 games left for the Canucks, the crafty defenceman is on pace for 58 assists.

This record might be more attainable for Hughes than Lidster’s record, based on the rate at which he’s piled up assists.

Whether Hughes breaks the records held by Lidster and Kearns this year or in the future is almost irrelevant. He’s going to rewrite the Canucks’ history books and may end up breaking his own records on a number of occasions.

Lidster’s franchise record has stood for 35 years, while Kearns has held his franchise record for an astounding 45 years.

Hughes “focused on having a good overall game”

When asked after Tuesday’s practice about if he sets goals for point totals, Hughes deflected and instead talked about his defensive improvements.

“I usually do have goals and I want to be up there with the best defencemen, but I think this year, with how last year went, I was motivated and focused on having a good overall game.

“So, I don’t think I really had like a number of point totals where I was like ‘that’s where I want to get to.’ I was just kind of like taking it 10 games at a time.”

Hughes is right. He’s been much better defensively this season. That was true even earlier this season when the Canucks were losing and Travis Green was still the head coach.

On the year, Hughes’ 53% shot attempt differential is the best mark among all Canucks defencemen. Only Brock Boeser (53.7% shot attempt differential) is ahead of him.

Hughes also leads Canucks defencemen in scoring chance differential as well. Tucker Poolman is the only Canucks defenceman who’s been on the ice for fewer shot attempts and scoring chances against per-60 at even-strength.

After a rough season last year, most of his defensive metrics are on par with his outstanding rookie season. Currently, his 2.46 expected goals against per-60 is exactly the same total he finished with in 2019-20.

“Last game I wasn’t great defensively but other than that, I think I’ve been really good this year defensively.

“I mean, I don’t know what I am, +9 or +10 [+8 actually], not that that matters, but I think there’s a couple things.

“I think we’re playing better as a team. I think Schenner has helped stabilize a bit as well. I think Demko has been unbelievable and bailed me out a couple times. I think that I’ve worked hard at it and been stronger defensively, so I think it’s been a multiple of things.”

Trevor BeggsTrevor Beggs

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