The Vancouver Canucks’ promising youth movement is about to see another dazzling name added to the mix.
With 20-year-old phenom Elias Pettersson already dominating the 2018-19 campaign in Canucks colours, after seeing Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser do the same in recent years, the next highly-touted prospect to join the fray will be defender Quinn Hughes.
“University of Michigan was eliminated today from their Big Ten playoffs, which paves the way for Quinn Hughes, Vancouver’s first-round pick in 2018, to join the hockey club as early as this week,” Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos said Saturday during the ‘Headlines’ segment of Hockey Night in Canada.
“Look for Quinn Hughes to sign a three-year deal where the first year will be burned by the end of this season.”
The 19-year-old blueliner has been turning heads since being drafted seventh overall by Vancouver in 2018. He’s already amassed five goals and 33 points in 31 games for Michigan so far this season, after posting 29 points through 37 games last season. Hughes also earned a gold medal with the U.S. national team at the 2017 IIHF U18 World Championship, posting five points through seven games, before claiming two bronze medals with Team USA in 2018, as well as a world juniors silver in 2019.
While it appears Hughes is on the cusp of making his NHL debut for Vancouver, it appears his contributions for the big club will be limited, so as to avoid risking his inclusion in the impending expansion draft.
“There’s talk of, if he plays 10 games this season, it would make him eligible for the Seattle expansion draft in 2021. And barring a late unexpected playoff push, I don’t think Vancouver will let that happen,” Kypreos said.
The Canucks faithful held their breath Friday when news broke that Hughes was injured during one of Michigan’s final games of the season. It’s unclear whether or not that could throw a wrench into the Canucks’ plans of getting their star defensive prospect into the lineup.
“Could he play as early as Wednesday? That’s a possibility,” said Kypreos. “But he did block a shot the other night on his ankle, which could jeopardize that start.”
The Canucks currently sit nine points out of a playoff spot, with 14 games left to play in 2018-19.