Roman Josie thought for a moment.
During the NHL North American Players Media Tour in Las Vegas on September 16, the Nashville Predators defenseman was asked to name the least appreciated player in the NHL.
Josie called the Vancouver Canucks defenseman “amazing” and “amazing”, raving about how well Hughes skates and always seems to puck.
“I think he’s one of the best defenders, and he’s a lot of fun to watch,” Josie said.
This is high praise for Josie, who was selected for the Norris Trophy as the best defender in the NHL in 2019-20 and was runner-up for the award last season.
And here’s the best part:
“I’m still 22, turned 23,” said Hughes, whose birthday is October 14. “My game, I’m not close to peak, and I feel like I’ll get better every year.”
Hughes, the number 7 pick of the 2018 NHL Draft, had 53 points (eight goals, 45 assists) in 68 games in 2019-20 and was runner-up to the Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar For the Calder Trophy as NHL Rookie of the Year.
He had 41 points (three goals, 38 assists) in 56 games in 2020-21, then set the Canucks record for defensemen last season with 68 points (eight goals, 60 assists) from 76 games.
This season, his personal goals are clear:
“I want to score more, hit more shots in the net and make more,” Hughes said. “Yeah. I want to help my team win more.
“I think it’s a mindset and trying to rip it through the net. That’s what I think. I’m always pass-first. Going in the middle of the snow a little bit more.”
Hughes spent time off-season skating three days a week at the USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Michigan.
The group included his younger brother, the New Jersey Devils Center. Jack Hughes1 Pick of the 2019 NHL Draft, and the Devil’s Defenseman Likely Luke Hughes4 pick of the 2021 NHL Draft who will play at the University of Michigan this season.
Including the Seattle Kraken Forward. Matty BeniersWinnipeg Jets Forward Kyle ConnorDetroit Red Wings Center Dylan LarkinColumbus Blue Jackets Defense Zach Verensky And the Anaheim Ducks Forward Trevor Zegrass,
“It’s a tough skate,” Hughes said. “It’s competitive. People are pushing themselves, and it’s also very specific about what you want to work on.”
What will help Hughes score more this season, especially knowing that the Canucks can take him to the right as a left-handed shot?
“I was lucky enough to see Quinn this summer,” Verensky said. “He’s really good at what he does. His skating, his escape moves, his cutback. He’s always making things up for other people. To me, I’m more of a shooter. I don’t really make that much. He does, so it was awesome this summer to be able to see him and learn from him.
“I think the thing we worked on the most was attacking in the offensive zone, attacking downhill, taking the snow that gives you the front, not just shooting it from the blue line and not just standing there. stay. if it goes up to you [defense] Companion, D to D, attack downhill. If you don’t like it, cut back. Do something creative.”
Verensky used Capricorn as an example.
Makar had 86 points (28 goals, 77 assists) in 77 matches last season. He led the NHL defensemen in goals, second among defensemen in points behind Josie (96) and Norris won. He led the Stanley Cup champion Avalanche to 29 points (eight goals, 21 assists) in 20 games during the Stanley Cup playoffs and won the Conn Smyth Trophy as the post-season Most Valuable Player.
“I feel like when you see a guy like a black Capricorn, he’s making a difference every shift,” Verensky said. “It’s not just a game of one or two innings. Every innings you see him there, you see him doing something. He’s leading the play. He’s attacking. He’s got that attacking mentality.
“And I think what we and Quinn talked about this summer is making sure we have every shift, and that’s what we were working on.”
Jack Hughes expects big things from his older brother.
“I feel [Quinn is] There’s going to be more goals this year, that’s for sure,” said Jack. “I know he’s very focused on his shot. He has a good shot, but I think he is focused on using it. I mean, he’s been a league leader in aid to defense personnel every year. [the NHL]But I think this is the time where he understands that he can also score and score goals.
“He is someone who knows how to score points, and I think 68 is a franchise record that will be broken this year and next year and so on. I think his game will only keep getting better.”