Examining Quinn Hughes struggles this season, and what that means for his next contract
Quinn Hughes authored one of the most impressive rookie seasons by a defencemen in recent memory, sprinting from the gate as an immensely talented, puck-moving blueliner with almost singular transition ability and a level of skill in the offensive zone matched only by his Calder Trophy rival Cale Makar.
Everyone, whether they were a fan, analyst, reporter, and even the analytical community alike, could agree that he was an elite player sure to be in the Norris conversation for years to come.
The season that followed, this one, has been an up-and-down year, as steady counting stats couple with downright concerning numbers under the hood to such a degree as to call into question his anointment as one of the league's premier two-way defenders.
Among 147 defencemen with 500 or more 5-on-5 minutes played, only four have been on the ice for a higher rate of goals against, and only three have been on the ice for more scoring chances against. The decent-considering-his-team defensive numbers that Hughes put up as a rookie have atrophied, replaced by isolated impact metrics that place him near the bottom of the league for defensive in-zone participation.
Hughes’ contract expires at the end of the year, and all indications are that he and fellow Canucks restricted free agent Elias Pettersson will pursue bridge contracts, possibly even matching ones, that will allow them to cash in at a higher number when an end to the flat cap era is on the horizon. Might this dip in performance this season impact those negotiations? And should Canucks fans be concerned at the holes in his game that have appeared this season? What changed?
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