As soon as Quinn Hughes’ Michigan team was eliminated from playoff consideration, the speculation grew when he would turn pro. The sophomore defenseman racked up 33 points in 32 games for the Wolverines and had little left to prove in college. Sure enough, the Vancouver Canucks signed Hughes to a three-year entry level deal on Sunday evening.
It carries a base salary of $919,166 per season with performance bonuses of up to $2.062,500, throughout the contract. His AAV could be as high as $1.604 million per season. No one was worried about his lackluster 2019 World Juniors performance or cared honestly. He had two assists in seven games there. The maturity he showed later in the season was a key point in Vancouver trying to get him some experience now.
With expanded rosters, Hughes can get a nine to ten game “cup of coffee” now to get used to the speed and pace of the NHL game. This will serve him well next year as he tries to make the team out of camp. At the worst, he ends up in the AHL to work on parts of his game that need to rise to the NHL level.
This extended quote from Elite Prospects explains the facets of Hughes’ game well:
“Quinn Hughes is known as an elite defensive talent that has mastered the elements of speed and decision-making. He is calculated in his handling of the puck and well-versed in his ability to limit time and space for the opposition without the puck. It's almost taken for granted, now, that he is a highly skilled offensive player, simply due to his individual ability to carry plays and outfox the opposition in their own end. His creativity and vision is what sets him apart from many other defenders, and he plays that exciting style of hockey that punishes opponents' mistakes with immediacy. It's his proactivity through the neutral zone, not just limiting the time and space for the opposition but limiting their options to move the puck up-ice every time he's on a shift, that makes him so potent. All-in-all, a complete defenseman that understands how to open up a game and take it over. (Curtis Joe, EP 2018) “
Again, the most important thing for the new Vancouver Canucks defenseman will be to get used to the nuances and rigors of the professional game. This is not college. This is a whole other experience. Hughes comes in with experience of high levels of competition which should serve him well. Playing at an elite university and in the World Juniors should only be an asset.
This is a player with upside of a top pairing defenseman bordering on superstar. At the very least, his numbers translate well enough that his certainty of making an impact in the NHL is almost a given. He grades out to an A- to A average in most circles. Any defenseman with his level of speed that can rack up minutes and points will be a handful for years to come in the National Hockey League.
Expect his debut to be as soon as Wednesday against the New York Rangers. His ability to move the puck could prove to be quite an asset against slow-footed teams defensively like New York and others.
By Chris Wassel