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Hughes dazzles in debut

...rookie named 3rd star in thrilling Canucks win

by Derek Jory @NoJoryous / Vancouver Canucks

When the Detroit Red Wings drafted forward Filip Zadina sixth overall at the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, Canucks assistant GM John Weisbrod quietly pumped his fist in excitement.

"That's a home run," exclaimed GM Jim Benning after the Canucks drafted Hughes next, at seventh overall.

"You can take a deep breath there," added Judd Brackett, director of amateur scouting.

Other than Rasmus Dahlin, who went 1st overall to the Buffalo Sabres, the Canucks had their pick of defencemen at seven and Benning wanted Hughes from the get-go.

Watch: Youtube Video

"We love Quinn Hughes," Benning said in an interview shortly after leaving the stage in Dallas. "I love the way he skates, the way he can get back and beat the first forechecker and get the puck up ice and go the other way. I'm so excited for our fans right now. I didn't think he was going to be there, but I'm so happy that he was because with Boeser and Pettersson and Gaudette and all our skilled forwards, to add a guy that can carry the puck and do what he can from the backend is so exciting."

Last night, Vancouver got its first taste of what Benning was talking about as Quinn Hughes made his NHL debut.

First things first, the loner lap. The 19-year-old did it in style, without a helmet.

Tweet from @Canucks: Welcome to the @NHL, Quinn Hughes. 🤩

Hughes received a massive ovation during his first ever shift, skating alongside Luke Schenn in the 1st period, and fans were rowdy every time he hit the ice or touched the puck all game.

Early on, it was about getting his feet wet and getting into the flow of the game. Hughes leaned on Brock Boeser and Elias Pettersson for guidance.

Tweet from @Canucks: Making friends. 🤩🤩🤩

Neither Brock, Petey or anyone in Rogers Arena expected what came next.

After Alex Edler tied the game 1-1, Hughes wheeled into the Canucks zone down the right side. Kings forward Trevor Lewis tried to keep up, but Hughes, already step ahead heading behind the LA net, banked the puck to himself off the back of the net and reversed course, twirling out in front and getting a shot off. He was stopped, but Boeser was there to net his 26th goal of the season.

Are. You. Joking.

Tweet from @Canucks: Hughes is a defenceman, right?! UNREAL FIRST @NHL POINT! 🤯

So nice it will be embedded twice.

Video: LAK@VAN: Hughes earns first point on Boeser's goal

Vancouver went the distance with LA and fittingly it was former Kings forward Tanner Pearson scoring the shootout game-winner. The game nearly ended in overtime, however, as the trio of Hughes, Boeser and Pettersson put the league on notice: you don't want to mess with them 3-on-3.

Tweet from @NHL: Quinn Hughes - @_EPettersson - @BBoeser16 Yeah, we could get used to this.

Hughes, surrounded by reporters post-game for the third time in less than two days, said he thoroughly enjoyed every minute of his NHL debut.

"That was awesome. It was my dream to play in the NHL, so this is surreal. I gotta give credit to Schenn, he was a huge help for me. Having Canucks fans support me like that was special. I'm really happy to be here."

Video: POSTGAME | Hughes vs. Kings

We're really happy you're here too. In fact, your debut will be remembered by most as one of the best ever for the Canucks, right up there alongside Pavel Bure, Boeser and Pettersson in terms of excitement.

Coach Green liked what he saw as well.

"It was fun to watch him tonight, he was good," Coach said post-game. "He's got special talent and it doesn't look like he lacks confidence, which is what you want in your skill guys. You want him to make plays and he made a few tonight that were very exciting."

Green has been quick to temper expectations on Hughes, but it's clear everyone is intrigued after game one - even the referees.

"He was unbelievable, what a debut," said Luke Schenn post-game. "Every time he came on the ice the fans were chanting his name and there was a big roar. At one point the ref came by the bench and said if he changed his name to Hughes, the fans would start cheering for him even. Bright future for sure."

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