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Canucks prospect Hughes returning to University of Michigan

Vancouver reportedly would not guarantee spot for defenseman who was No. 7 pick in 2018 Draft @NHLdotcom

Quintin Hughes has decided to return to the University of Michigan for his sophomore season.

The defenseman, who was selected by the Vancouver Canucks with the No. 7 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, had 29 points (five goals, 24 assists) in 37 games as the youngest player in the NCAA last season.

"My heart's obviously still at Michigan," Hughes told the University of Michigan athletics website. "I was heartbroken when we lost to Notre Dame in the Frozen Four last year. I've never really been on a team that cares so much about each other, and I think that's a big reason why I'm coming back, because I love my teammates."

Vancouver general manager Jim Benning told Sportsnet the Canucks were not prepared to guarantee Hughes an NHL roster spot for this season.

"It's really hard to do that," Benning said. "Quinn's a great player, but he's [5-foot-10] and 170 pounds. We went back and forth on it. The thing we didn't want happening is we sign him, he makes the team, and then things go south because he's an 18-year-old rookie. Then what? This was a mutual agreement. We talked to Quinn last night and he understands and is on board with it. He's going to work hard at Michigan.

"(Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman) Zach Werenski played two years of college hockey at Michigan, (Boston Bruins defenseman) Charlie McAvoy played two years at Boston [University]. And those guys are 200-pound guys."

Canucks president of hockey operations Trevor Linden left that job Wednesday. Those duties, which include player devlopment, will be handled by Benning, who said owner Francesco Aquilini did not influence the Hughes decision.

"Other teams I've worked for, there's always interaction with ownership on big decisions," Benning said. "Francesco asked me what I thought was the best thing for Quinn's development. I told him, and that was it."

Hughes, who will turn 19 on Oct. 14, was named to the 2017-18 All-Big Ten Hockey Second Team and helped Michigan advance to the Frozen Four. He won a bronze medal with the United States at the 2018 World Junior Championship, getting three assists in seven games.

"I think we have a good team (at Michigan) this upcoming year, and I believe in the group," Hughes said. "So, for me, I have a lot of goals in my mind. I want to be the best player in college hockey, and I want to win the national championship. I think we can do it with the group and the coaching staff we have, and we believe in each other.

"So, it was unfinished business, of course. I want to win. When I look back at my season last year, I had a great year. But I didn't win a national championship. So, that's my goal next year, and anything less than that would be disappointing."

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