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(Discussion) How bad is Quinn Hughes defensively?

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He's not the best defensively but he's not nearly as bad as people are making him out to be. The issue is the shine has just worn off and after the horrendous year the team has people are looking to heap criticism wherever they can.

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Thanks for doing this summation.   It's a total bingo.    Whenever our team is behind by one goal, which happens fairly often, the coach overplays QHs 5 x 5 trying to even the game up.    It's not the only issue, but it is the biggest one - teams take more risks when behind by a goal and yes it often doesn't work out for them or their D.    The flip side of this could also be, what would Myers, Edler's and Schmidt's plus minus look like if QHs wasn't double shifted?   Would be interesting to look into that. 

 

It's yet to be determined whether or not QHs is very good, top  four 5 x 5 material, or like Barrie, really better off as a bottom pairing PP specialist on a deep D team.   

 

One thing i will say is after Covid i started to count how many times QHs got burned getting the puck out of the zone.   I was actually a little surprised by this - 8/9 out of 10 times he'd get the puck out with a neat little deke or play and quick short or long bomb pass.   The other times he was hemmed in and a scoring chance or goal resulted.   If you look at his plus, even as terrible as it is, it's really only one less goal every couple of games - and your correct in factoring in his PP contributions to find the overall net gain or loss. 

 

WG and LA had a terrible 94 season.   He was minus 30 or something.   But scored 70ish points on the PP (unusual for him as the majority of his production career wise was 5 x 5 curiously enough, unlike OVI didn't feast on the PP).   

 

QHs is a little like Bure this way too.   He was never a big plus player for us.   Often around 0.    But his game killer instincts and awesome PP and PK made him a monster plus contributor overall.   

 

Good thread.   I've read garbage defensively by some on this site, and that is simply not true.    Watch him closely next year and like i did record the clean exits and how many times he gets the puck out safely.   Where he's always going to struggle is when it comes to physical battles.    An area he needs to work on, add 15 lbs of solid muscle would help.    QHs doesn't have elite top speed, but his skating is his main weapon as is his passing, and stickhandling.   Would also like to see him down low by the other goalie more often.    Doesn't do that enough.   Myers is actually better at this then QHs from what i've seen so far. 

 

Not terribly worried about him.   He's freaking 21 and had two great seasons all considered.   And will get better.   The only thing i worry about is his health.   So far he gets up every time and does his thing.    Little waterbug warrior in the making. 

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7 hours ago, Elias Pettersson said:

This is a very good post and observation.  I would concur.  Hughes overall minutes are much higher at even strength than Hamonic or Benn which means other Dmen were on the ice with him at some point in time.  There were many times when I saw Hughes on the ice with Myers or Schmidt.  Not so much Edler.  But I would say that being on the ice with Myers and Schmidt definitely led to Hughes having a much worse plus/minus than he should have. 

Or did it mean Myers and Schmidt did too?   Obviously one of them was on the ice and they took the hit on their stat as well.   

 

Part of this is almost no practice time.   IF TG decided to carry on with this when we are behind a goal (BTW my brother made this observation early in the season and brought it up multiple times - QHs getting to many minutes 5 x 5 and how it more often then not ended up with another puck in our net)   then QHs needs time with the other RHDs in practice. 

 

Part of this is because the entire team is behind by a goal, and risks have to be taken to tie it up too.   Team needs to learn how to manage that better as a unit.     

 

I don't blame anyone for this including the coach.   Practice time will clean a lot of this up.    As will a full training camp before the season starts. 

 

As mentioned about I started mark every time QHs make a play to get us out.   It's actually very high.   But the times he can't (usually can't physically match up with that play and gets hemmed in) almost every single time it ended up as a high scoring chance or an actual goal.  

 

Overall i'm only worried about QHs ability to take the sort of punishment for regular season and playoffs long term.   If he can become more like Brian Campbell was during his prime, we are looking at a HHOFer in the making.   Same size - 5'10 175lbs, that could control the entire pace of a game or even series.   IMO CHI best D early on in their "dynasty".   Later did the same for Florida.    A lot of work to get there, but it's entirely possible it happens.   Add 50% more production to a Brian Campbell game ... wow we'd be sorted for 13 or so more years on D. 

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8 hours ago, BigTramFan said:

In the NHL the +/- stat can be misleading…how bad is Quinn Hughes defensively?

 

I am assuming we are all aware that the +/- stat in the NHL does not include any powerplay goals for or powerplay goals against. That means for a player like Hughes, all of the PP goals scored with him on the ice do not count towards his +/- stat.

 

Instead of +/-, let’s look at real goals ‘for’ and ‘against’. During the 2020-21 season when Hughes was on the ice, the Canucks scored 64 goals ‘for’ and the opposition scored 60 goals ‘against’ us.

 

Of the 64 goals scored by the Canucks while Hughes was on the ice, 40 were at even strength, and 24 were powerplay goals. Hughes had an assist on 19 of these PP goals (79%) and collected a point on 22 of the ES goals (55%).

 

Of the 60 goals scored against the Canucks while Hughes was on the ice, 2 were shorthanded against our PP, and 58 were at even strength.

 

This tells us a couple of things:

1.      Hughes is amazing on the PP (a net +22 goals with Hughes on the ice, with assists on every 4 out of 5 PP goals)

2.      Hughes is also key to scoring at even strength (collecting a point on 55% of goals scored while on the ice)

 

But…

 

3.      Hughes struggles at even strength (a net -18 goals with Hughes on the ice)…

 

…..or does he?

 

I would like to examine point #3 above. What intrigues me is that Hughes’ played at even strength primarily with two main partners during the 2020-21 season: Hamonic and Benn. Surely you would expect that both of these guys would have similarly bad numbers at even strength right, since they were on the ice at the same time?

 

Well here’s the data for 2020-21 in VAN colours:

Jordie Benn, av TOI 13 mins at ES = 19 goals for, 18 goals against = net +1 goals at ES

Travis Hamonic, av TOI 17 mins at ES = 21 goals for, 24 goals against = net -3 goals at ES

 

And remember Quinn Hughes, av TOI 19 mins at ES = 40 goals for, 58 goals against = net -18 goals at ES

 

I find this very interesting because it tells me that when Hughes had a net -18 goals scored against him at even strength, he COULD NOT have been partnered with Benn or Hamonic. In fact, it also tells me that both Benn and Hamonic worked very well with Hughes at even strength. Something else must have been going on…and it happened during the extra 2-6 mins that Hughes was not partnered with Benn or Hamonic.

 

And I think that it is this:

When the Canucks were trailing late in a game, the coaching staff put Hughes onto the ice and paired him with Myers, Schmidt or Edler in the hope that these guys can come up with something and score. This is probably a good plan since we are losing the game anyway and Myers/Schmidt/Edler are considered better offensively than Benn or Hamonic. However, with Hughes taking risks to try and conjure up a goal late in the game, partnered with a different Dman, he very often found himself getting scored on by the opposition. And that is the only reason that I can see for Hughes to have a net -18 goals scored against him at even strength.

 

Out of interest here are the same stats for the other key Canucks D:

Nate Schmidt, av TOI 17 mins at ES = 37 goals for, 42 goals against = net -5 goals at ES

Alex Edler, av TOI 17 mins at ES = 37 goals for, 49 goals against = net -12 goals at ES

Tyler Myers, av TOI 18 mins at ES = 41 goals for, 50 goals against = net -9 goals at ES

 

 

Does this mean that Hughes is terrible defensively? No it does not! In fact, under general usage at even strength with his usual defense partner, Hughes has been ok (and the evidence is shown in the stats that Benn and Hamonic achieved at even strength with Hughes). He is certainly no "all situations" #1 Dman, but he is not a liability.

 

This also suggests that Hughes can hold his own with a partner like Hamonic at even strength, and then can be expected to thrive on the PP.

 

What affects Hughes +/- stat the most is when the team needs him to take risks late in a game in an effort to avoid losing the game. And more often than not, we give up another goal or two.

 

What do you think? Do you see anything different in these stats?

nice work. The one thing I'd add is fan expectations are part of the problem as well. Guys like Quinn who are high skilled offensive producers don't get the learning time other young d do. We expect him to shoot out of college into the NHL and be an offensive stud AND be excellent without the puck, its ridiculous. The kid is learning on the job in the NHL, there are going to be moments where thats ugly.

 

People calling him garbage are goofy. The question for me is, is he capable of becoming even an average NHL d? when you look at his main skill set, skating, yeah of course he can get there its just going to take a couple more years. He's never going to be a bruiser, but he's one of the best skaters in the league.

 

If you combine his offensive skills, with average defence, you've got a star in the making. Tanev basically said this in a recent interview. 

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

First off I would like to ask why? Why are these posts even happening? Can we not be positive?

Secondly,
Hughes is only going to get stronger helping him defensively. TBH our team looks at him to push the play from the backend so the requirement of being defensive is less. However that is no excuse. Neither is the fact that he has not had a consistent partner to rely on. Quinn gives his heart every shift. You cannot teach that to someone, you either have it or you do not. 

Thirdly,
Before our fan base starts attacking a player like Quinn, because of some unused, irrelevant (in this case) stat that does not paint that full picture, lets take a step back and realize how lucky we are and praise him for the things he is doing and how lucky we are to have him. I guarantee any team in this league takes him regardless of some mediocre stat. The Vancouver Fan Base has not had a player like him on the backend. Be proud of the good talent we have & be positive.

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8 hours ago, wai_lai416 said:

if u don't look at stats and just watch Hughes play you'll see he's getting beaten or giving away the puck leading to odd man rush a lot this year and there's no Tanev to bail out. He likes to take risk so we just need a D partner for him to make up for it.

I agree 100% with you here.  His stats are bad, but so was the eye test.  He was the direct cause of goals against.  Excellent offensive season, but poor defensive one.   Not entirely unexpected for an undersized 21YO sophomore.  I fully expect him to bounce back though, with a better partner, and better deployment.

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From what I saw, the team was FAR too reliant on Hughes. I lost track of how many times late in the game, Hughes was at the bench just gasping for air. His average was 22:48 TOI. But especially late in games and late in the season I saw Hughes playing way more than that. Especially if the team had an injury to one of it's defenders. Now we're not talking Darnell Nurse territory. But the team leaned on him way too much. 

 

The coaching staff needs to start trying to trust some of the younger players. I know that means mistakes. But that's how they learn and get better. An offseason of rest, training.

And being healthy and away from covid will help the team out a lot. 

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5 minutes ago, Ghostsof1915 said:

From what I saw, the team was FAR too reliant on Hughes. I lost track of how many times late in the game, Hughes was at the bench just gasping for air. His average was 22:48 TOI. But especially late in games and late in the season I saw Hughes playing way more than that. Especially if the team had an injury to one of it's defenders. Now we're not talking Darnell Nurse territory. But the team leaned on him way too much. 

 

The coaching staff needs to start trying to trust some of the younger players. I know that means mistakes. But that's how they learn and get better. An offseason of rest, training.

And being healthy and away from covid will help the team out a lot. 

I agree Hughes 5 on 5 ice time should be throttled back.  Very often his 5 on 5 minutes came in tandem with the first line forwards.  Even with the most favourable linemates was being outscored at even strength.  Deployment should evolve to protect him 5 on 5 and allow Quinn to feast on the opponents 3rd and 4th lines.

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52 minutes ago, #Canucks said:

First off I would like to ask why? Why are these posts even happening? Can we not be positive?

because people have unrealistic expectations. 

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7 hours ago, qwijibo said:

He’s an undersized 21 year old offensive defenceman. He came up through the lower levels of the game playing D by dominating offensively. He’ll learn the defensive responsibilities required for the position but he’ll always have issues with being muscled off the puck.  The right partner and it won’t be a big issue as he matures.  People need to have a little patience.  Most D his age are learning the pro game in the minors. 

Exactly.

 

He will always be small. That's why the Canucks need balance. 

 

You don't play him to shot block or grind in the corners you play him to move the puck. 

 

He'll get better but doubt he gets above average and that's just fine.

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Hughes is a high risk, high reward kind of player, just like "Special" Ed Jovanovski was before him....

 

You don't want to clamp down on his creativity, because that's what make him an exceptional offensive player. You live with the mistakes, secure in the knowledge that with experience, he'll learn what he can and can't get away with.

 

As the saying goes: "Singers sing and dancers dance".....Hughes is a possession driver for the Canucks, not a crease clearing, shot blocking stalwart defender. But.... .eventually, the defensive positioning will improve, the giveaways will become less frequent and IMHO, the offensive play will get even better....

 

That's a scary prospect for the rest of the league.

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3 hours ago, IBatch said:

Or did it mean Myers and Schmidt did too?   Obviously one of them was on the ice and they took the hit on their stat as well.   

 

Part of this is almost no practice time.   IF TG decided to carry on with this when we are behind a goal (BTW my brother made this observation early in the season and brought it up multiple times - QHs getting to many minutes 5 x 5 and how it more often then not ended up with another puck in our net)   then QHs needs time with the other RHDs in practice. 

 

Part of this is because the entire team is behind by a goal, and risks have to be taken to tie it up too.   Team needs to learn how to manage that better as a unit.     

 

I don't blame anyone for this including the coach.   Practice time will clean a lot of this up.    As will a full training camp before the season starts. 

 

As mentioned about I started mark every time QHs make a play to get us out.   It's actually very high.   But the times he can't (usually can't physically match up with that play and gets hemmed in) almost every single time it ended up as a high scoring chance or an actual goal.  

 

Overall i'm only worried about QHs ability to take the sort of punishment for regular season and playoffs long term.   If he can become more like Brian Campbell was during his prime, we are looking at a HHOFer in the making.   Same size - 5'10 175lbs, that could control the entire pace of a game or even series.   IMO CHI best D early on in their "dynasty".   Later did the same for Florida.    A lot of work to get there, but it's entirely possible it happens.   Add 50% more production to a Brian Campbell game ... wow we'd be sorted for 13 or so more years on D. 

I think the biggest problem is that Hughes needs a partner who can play bigger minutes and stay out on the ice with him for longer periods of time.  Hamonic played well with Hughes but he is not a minute munching Dman.  He will max out at around 17 minutes while Hughes is playing 23+ minutes.  A guy like Cernak can play 21-22 minutes no problem.  Hughes needs a partner like that so he's not on the ice often with either Myers or Schmidt, who have their own deficiencies in their own end.

 

The biggest priority for Benning is to get a legit partner for Hughes so we can have a top pairing D that can eat up 22-23 minutes a night.

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8 hours ago, VancouverHabitant said:

I don't care about the stats that much, what mattered to me was that Hughes didn't pass the eye test.  He was a turnover machine at times this season when he'd lost his confidence and was trying to do too much with the puck.  

 

In a way we've seen similar play with Makar over the last three games in their series.  Despite how good he is, he's trying to make up for all his faults with one play and he's putting himself into situations where he loses the puck in bad spots. 

I'd agree that he was trying to force the game too much - while at the same time, the giveaways were coming from all over the roster, and the defensemen wind up being the scapegoats.

The team as a whole was not supporting the puck, was blowing the zone, the stretch passing was being forced, trying to take too much, to cheat the game.

The thing about experience - players tend to learn to take what is being given, to read what is being given - as opposed to constantly trying to go to what one believes is one's bread and butter.  Teams gameplan - they adjust - and young players need to do so as well.  It was particularly challenging because they lacked normal camp and preseason time, and then further lacked the in-season practice time - so it snowballed more than it likely otherwise would have.

 

Hughes in particular was arguably the hardest hit.  Not only did he lose his partner (Tanev) - but the player brought in, Hamonic, was extremely rusty, performed horribly out of the gate, and then was injured.  Additionally, Hughes was playing huge minutes, and whether it was he, or a team-mate commiting the turnovers, he was under additional pressure to defend the results.

 

I think it was to be 'expected' to a certain extent.  Whether it's the eye test or his outcomes (or ideally, both) - he was better in his rookie season - he had more stability in his partner, he was playing on a healthier lineup, he was playing in pre-covid conditions with more structure and 'foundation' in the team's game.

This season - it wasn't just the absence of Tanev, or new faces in the lineup, or lack of preseason, etc - it was also the absence of key foundation forwards - a covid outbreak - and lineups that were half replacement players at times...

Hughes played an awful lot of minutes through it all - I don't take some of the rough edges too seriously.

 

A few things I did like about his defensive game in his first season that I think he will build on:

1) his skating enables his puck retrieval game to be extremely high end - his ability to retrieve pucks all over the ice is a real strength - and his ability to get back, retrieve pucks and transition before the forecheck closes on him is also a real asset.   Add a big, mean guy that can skate to that equation - who can run subtle interference for him (like you see all the time with certain teams who ride the edge of interference, particularly on dump and chases, for example, to their advantage)

2) when he's confident and engaged, he can maintain excellent positioning and gap control - a huge aspect for 'undersized' D like him, who can skate, pivot and close at a high level.

3) he has a solid, low center of gravity - so he is able to leverage/angle players off the puck when he has position.

 

For me, the biggest problem was not reading when to hold onto the puck, when to skate with it to buy space, when to attempt the stretch passes (he really pushes the stretch pass at times, even when it's defended, and  it becomes too predictable.   Just needs more of a unit approach to zone exits (more puck support from team-mates when he's under pressure) - and take the space that is given as opposed to trying to force the transition.  That said - it's easy to say - and I can live with a lot of his mistakes - particularly because these are problems that are solveable, and some of the weaknesses exposed are more team weaknesses than it may appear.  Rookie Hughes was a tremendous breakout - sophomore Hughes was expected to produce at a high end - that has pretty much already been taken for granted - but sophomore Hughes played with a group that was very young, struggled as a whole, where he was more exposed.

I'm not terribly concerned about any of it because as the team tightens up, so does/will Hughes.

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Huggy, no matter how good or bad he is defensively, will never be that guy that clears bodies out of the crease. Just not a big and physical type player. Although he is smart with his stick and his skating ability is second to none, IMHO, he does require that Tanev type partner fer sure.

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10 minutes ago, Sativika said:

Huggy, no matter how good or bad he is defensively, will never be that guy that clears bodies out of the crease. Just not a big and physical type player. Although he is smart with his stick and his skating ability is second to none, IMHO, he does require that Tanev type partner fer sure.

Makar and Fox aren't that type of Dman either, but Hughes can get to their level as they are pretty much all the same size.  Hedman is on another level as he's 6'6" so he has an advantage over all of them to be the crease clearing defensive Dman along with being an offensive weapon.  Hedman is the complete defenceman.

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17 minutes ago, Elias Pettersson said:

I think the biggest problem is that Hughes needs a partner who can play bigger minutes and stay out on the ice with him for longer periods of time.  Hamonic played well with Hughes but he is not a minute munching Dman.  He will max out at around 17 minutes while Hughes is playing 23+ minutes.  A guy like Cernak can play 21-22 minutes no problem.  Hughes needs a partner like that so he's not on the ice often with either Myers or Schmidt, who have their own deficiencies in their own end.

 

The biggest priority for Benning is to get a legit partner for Hughes so we can have a top pairing D that can eat up 22-23 minutes a night.

I agree with this 100%.   He needs a Methot  type like EK had, one that won't hurt us and knows when QHs is going to rush and when he needs help.   That will come i'm pretty sure of that.    Either that or like i mentioned he needs more time with either Schmidt or Myers so they can get used to each other's tendencies.   Actually like the idea of both those guys getting a chance with QHs on a full time basis.   Myers was actually relied on more when we were ahead then QHs, same with Edler and Schmidt and there is a reason for that.   

 

I don't think he's as bad defensively as some have made him out to be,  but he's also no Willie Mitchell either.   Who BTW, is exactly what QHs needs on his line.   Hamonic is fine for now.   But we need to groom someone - maybe it's Woo (he's changed his game to play off Rathbone in the AHL, more of a defensive specialist then a two way guy)... long term.   QHs for sure needs that.   Makes it a little harder to build a team around one guy (the defense) but if and when it clicks the rewards could be tremendous for the team.   QHs will never play really high minutes unless he is also on the PK.   And that's absolutely ok.   Like i said - i'm hoping he can turn into the type of player Brian Campbell was...plus his offense he'd be heading for the HHOF. 

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