The Wolverine

April 2019

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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62 THE WOLVERINE APRIL 2019 BY BOB MILLER S tar defenseman Quinn Hughes couldn't be faulted if he were to wonder about the outcome had de‑ cided to sign a professional contract after only one season at Michigan. Hughes returned to Ann Arbor for several reasons rather than sign a professional contract with the Van‑ couver Canucks, who had taken him No. 7 overall in the first round of the NHL Draft three months prior. He had performed well enough against older professionals in the IIHF World Championships in the spring to sug‑ gest that he may be able to step right into a role with the Canucks at the NHL level for the 2018‑19 season. "There were positives and nega‑ tives both ways and, honestly, you can go back and forth all day," he told "That's what I've been doing for the last month. And I'd been thinking about this a lot over the last couple weeks, especially with contract talks heating up. So, I went over to see [head coach] Mel [Pear‑ son] Friday morning to go over some things and see where his head was at. He wanted to speak to me about things, too. "What I really thought about is that it's not the path, it's the player. If you're a good player, it will work for you. So, that's what I thought about at the end." Hughes' decision benefitted both him and the Wolverines, even though the season's outcome (a 13‑16‑7 overall record) and the early depar‑ ture from the Big Ten Tournament had to be a disappointment. From his post on the Michigan blue line, Hughes directed the offense and used his puck control to play while leading the team in scoring with 33 points (five goals and 28 assists) in 32 games. At the conclusion of the season, Hughes finally made the jump every‑ one expected, signing an entry‑level contract with Vancouver and ending the two‑year Michigan career that saw him rank 25th all time in assists by a defenseman. His 24 assists as a rookie in 2017‑18 were the highest total ever by a Wolverine freshman defenseman. When he finally steps onto the ice for the Canucks, he will be the 99th Michigan player to make an appear‑ ance in an NHL game. That appear‑ ance may have to be delayed by a week or so, though, while Hughes recovers from a deep bone bruise in his foot that was caused by block‑ ing a shot in his final series against Minnesota. "Thank you to the coaching staff, medical staff, trainers and the best fans in college hockey," Hughes said of his Michigan tenure. "Most impor‑ tantly, thank you to my teammates who made this the best two years of my life. "Proud to be a part of the Michigan family! Go Blue!" "I want to congratulate Quinn on his signing with the Vancouver Ca‑ nucks," Pearson told "I want to thank him for his time at the University of Michigan and the contributions that he made to our program. "Quinn is an outstanding player, but more importantly he is an out‑ standing young man. The Canucks are getting an elite prospect and we look forward to following Quinn's professional career." On the fit for Hughes with his new team, Canucks general manager Jim Benning told The Vancouver Courier: "I want him to get in here and get ad‑ justed, get accustomed to the speed and strength of the NHL players. I think there's some aspects of his game that he can step in and help our group right now." Michigan fans lamenting the loss of Hughes' puck controlling and of‑ fensive capabilities will be encour‑ aged to know that Quinn's younger brother, Luke, is committed to join the Wolverine program in the fall of 2021. The youngest of the three elite Hughes brothers, Luke is also the biggest of the trio while employing a style of play from the blue line simi‑ lar to Quinn's. Luke is expected to join the U.S. National Team Development Pro‑ gram next fall. Middle brother Jack is currently the odds‑on favorite to be   MICHIGAN HOCKEY Quinn Hughes Heads To NHL After A Disappointing End To The Season Hughes was selected seventh overall in the first round of the NHL Draft by the Vancouver Canucks last year, but opted to return for his sophomore year in 2018-19 and led the team in scoring with 33 points (five goals and 28 assists). PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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