Calder Trophy Watch: Vancouver Canucks’ Quinn Hughes pushing for top spot

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      With Quinn Hughes turning heads on Vancouver’s blueline and pushing to become the third Canuck in as many years to get nominated for the Calder Trophy for best rookie, we will examine how the race is shaping up weekly.

      It wasn’t a great stretch for the Vancouver Canucks, who lost three more games last week (not counting tonight’s game against Nashville) to make it four defeats in a row.

      But Quinn Hughes kept humming, adding two points in the three contests and looking more like the offensive dynamo he’s proved to be—even if he was a minus-1 and had a few defensive lapses.

      The case for Hughes winning the Calder Trophy has recently leaned quite hard on the Orlando native’s underlying numbers. And while he still posted a positive Relative Corsi in all situations, his five-on-five Relative Corsi percentage was a minus-7.

      Of course, he also led all rookies in average ice time per game and has played against the toughest competition. That’s something almost all other rookies can’t say. Even if Hughes’s five-on-five ice time was 10th among first-year players.

      Simply put, unless the Canucks’ first unit powerplay gets back on track—which it did briefly in Minnesota—Hughes will be hard-pressed to emerge as the frontrunner in the race.

      Speaking of which, Cale Makar of the Colorado Avalanche enjoyed another productive week. While he played about two-and-a-half minutes less per game than Hughes and against lesser competition on a better team (something Calder Trophy voters should take into account), Makar did register a goal and four assists over four games this week.

      On Friday, betting site Odds Shark had Hughes rapidly closing the gap, with forwards Dominik Kubalik of the Chicago Blackhawks and the currently injured Victor Olofsson of the Buffalo Sabres in a distant third and fourth, respectively.

      And while Makar has scored two points since then to Hughes’s one, Odds Shark’s odds (-150 for the Av and -110 for the Canucks) are much closer than anyone would have wagered even weeks ago.

      How close is it?

      As it stands, we’d still have Makar as the favourite at around a 65 percent likelihood he takes it home. Hughes makes up the other 35 percent, as the other candidates, including the Rangers’ Adam Fox, another blueliner, and Montreal’ Nick Suzuki, would need a miracle run to garner serious consideration.

      Makar’s 42 points in 46 games is a remarkable points percentage, and until Hughes (who has 41 points in 55 matches) cuts down that gap a bit, it’ll remain Makar’s trophy to lose.

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