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Canucks’ Hughes on taking NHL scoring lead: ‘I want to be in the playoffs’

Vancouver Canucks Quinn Hughes - The Canadian Press

With a goal and an assist on Monday night in a 3-1 victory at home over the San Jose Sharks, Vancouver Canucks defenceman Quinn Hughes took over the NHL scoring lead.

Now up to 30 points in 19 games (eight goals and 22 assists), Hughes is also riding an eight-game point streak where he has registered 14 points as the Canucks snapped a two-game losing skid.

“It doesn’t really mean much at the end of the day,” Hughes said after the game. “I want to be in the playoffs and be on a successful team and successful organization. We’ve been successful to start the year and have to keep going.”

Hughes is one point ahead of teammate J.T. Miller and Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak in the overall scoring race and is three points up on Cale Makar of the Colorado Avalanche in defenceman scoring.

Through just 19 games, the 24-year-old has already matched his career high in goals with eight, a mark he previously set in 68 games in 2019-20 and in 76 games in 2021-22.

Hughes required the second-fewest games in team history to reach the 30-point mark, behind only Tony Tanti, who did it in 17 games in 1983-84.

He is also just the third different defenceman in NHL history to record 30 points in a season in fewer than 20 games, with Bobby Orr achieving that feat five times as well as Al MacInnis in 1990-91.

Hughes was named captain of the Canucks prior to the season, replacing Bo Horvat who was traded to the New York Islanders in January. He is in third season of a six-year, $47.1 million contract and is coming off a career campaign in 2022-23, where he notched 76 points in 78 games.

Hughes has only been to the playoffs once in this NHL career, when the Canucks made it to the second round in the playoff bubble in 2019-20 before losing to the Vegas Golden Knights in seven games. The then-rookie had 16 points in 17 playoff games.

At 13-5-1 in 19 games with 27 points, the Canucks are third overall in the NHL standings but that’s not enough for Hughes.

“I can’t get caught being satisfied or happy,” Hughes said. “I think that I’ve been really good at sticking day to day and attacking each day.”