Quinn Hughes wasn’t supposed to be there.
The smooth-skating defenceman was projected to go before the Canucks took the podium at the NHL Draft in Dallas. Most prognosticators had the Detroit Red Wings snapping up the University of Michigan star.
But some funny things happened.
The Montreal Canadiens continued their streak of being unpredictable and addressed a need at centre with Finn Jesperi Kotkaniemi at third overall.
It might work out for the Habs, but it was certainly an off the board pick. Many mock drafts had the pivot in the top ten, but only recently was he regarded as a top-notch prospect.
The Ottawa Senators did what many expected and took power forward Brady Tkachuk (brother of Matthew, the Flames punishing winger).
But the Arizona Coyotes followed Montreal’s trend of breaking the norm, and took another centre, Barrett Hayton, with the fifth overall pick.
Hayton was widely expected to go outside the top ten, with TSN’s Bob McKenzie predicting the Soo Greyhounds forward would go at number 11.
That meant that the Canucks would get a chance at either Filip Zadina, the superstar winger who was thought to go in the top three for almost the entire year, or Hughes.
As it turned out, the Detroit Red Wings snapped up Zadina, getting huge value with the sixth overall pick.
But even as the Canucks were rumoured to have interest in defencemen like Noah Dobson and Evan Bouchard, general manager Jim Benning didn’t blink.
He steadied his rifle, and placed it directly on Quinn Hughes, largely thought to the most talented defenceman (other than first overall pick Rasmus Dahlin) in the draft.
What are the Canucks getting in Hughes?
Scouts think the Orlando, Florida native can be a power play quarterback at the highest level and can help push play from the blueline. He’s an exceptional skater and an elite puck-handler.
And though it would mean going through another tough season, Quinn’s brother Jack is projected to go first overall in the 2019 NHL Draft, which just happens to be in Vancouver. Seems like the right team to grab a couple of prolific siblings, doesn’t it?
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