Sartaaj Bhullar The Hockey Writers
Canucks’ All-Time Best Offensive Defensemen
With Quinn Hughes on pace to break the all-time single-season scoring record for a Vancouver Canucks defenceman, it is an appropriate time to look back at the players he will pass up and their careers. The rookie defenceman has 54 points in 69 games this season. Most of the players on the top of the Canucks defencemen scoring list played in the 1970s and the ’80s.
Doug Lidster’s 63 points in 80 games during the 1983-84 season is the highest-scoring season for a Canuck defenceman. That Canucks team was two years removed from a Stanley Cup Final run, where Lidster played alongside Stan Smyl and Tony Tanti as well as current general manager, a 24-year-old Jim Benning.
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He was playing in his third full season with the team, making a 35-point jump from his sophomore season. It was the only time he was anywhere near 60 points in his career as his points would drop back to 36 points the following season. He went on to play 10 seasons with the team but was traded to the New York Rangers and won a Stanley Cup against his former team in 1993-94. He only played 34 regular-season games and nine games in the playoffs that campaign. Lidster retired after winning his second Stanley Cup with the Dallas Stars in the 1998-99 season and started coaching.
Lidster returned to the Canucks as an assistant coach to Willie Desjardins in the 2014-15 season. He was fired after the 2016-17 season with Desjardin, only serving as an assistant for two seasons.
Dennis Kearns played for the Canucks from the 1971-72 season until he retired after the 1980-81 season. His 60 points in 80 games during the 1976-77 season is the second-highest season total for a Canuck defenceman. He joined the team in the franchise’s second season playing with the franchise’s first-ever captain Orland Kurtenbach and Dale Tallon.
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His 51 points in 80 games during the 1975-76 season ranks 14th in all-time points in team history. Hughes recently passed up Kearns’s 51-point season and will look to pass up his 60 point season in the next few weeks.
The third-highest scoring season from a Canuck defenceman belongs to Rick Lanz. He had 57 points in 79 games during the 1983-84 season. Similar to Hughes, Lanz was drafted at seventh overall in the 1980 draft after Hall of Famer’s Denis Savard, Larry Murphy, and Paul Coffey. His 57-point season came in his fourth season in the NHL. He posted 48 points the season prior and he had 53 points in 75 games in the 1985-86 season but was unable to reach the 50-point mark after that.
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He played seven seasons with the Canucks before being traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Benning and Doan Hodgson. He struggled to regain his scoring touch in Toronto and posted 59 points in 151 games for the team. He retired after playing one game with the Chicago Blackhawks in the 1991-92 season. He finished his career with 221 points in 569 games.
Paul Reinhart has the fourth and fifth highest-scoring seasons for Canuck defencemen. In the 1979 draft, he was selected by the Atlanta Flames with the 12th pick. Reinhart played eight seasons with the Flames in Calgary before being traded to Vancouver. He played two seasons with the Canucks before retiring due to a chronic back injury.
In his first season with the Canucks, he posted 57 points in 64 games. He had 57 points in 67 games in the 1989-90 season, leading the Canucks. His three sons Max, Griffen, and Sam all played in the NHL. Sam currently plays for the Buffalo Sabres and has 255 points in 296 career games.
Dale Tallon follows up Reinhart with the sixth highest-scoring season. He was the Canucks first-ever draft pick in franchise history, second overall in the 1970 draft. In his first season with the Canucks, he had 56 points in 78 games during the 1978-79 season. His point total would decline in the next two seasons before being traded to the Blackhawks. He had 62 points in 80 games during the 1975-76 season with the Blackhawks but was unable to reach the 60 point mark in his last four seasons in the NHL.
After playing two seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Tallon retired and became a broadcaster for 16 seasons with Blackhawks before joining their front office. As general manager, he worked with the Blackhawks before the Florida Panthers, where he still serves as GM.
Quinn Hughes Rookie Season
The careers of these players show that the Canucks have struggled to find a high scoring defenceman. Either the players have had a couple of 50-plus point seasons before their points decline or they’ve gotten injured and had to retire. Hughes is on pace to pass up all five of these players and hold the highest-scoring season for a Canuck defenceman. With the season Hughes is having, he has the potential to be the greatest Canucks defenceman.
The rookie has already broken a few team records and breaking this one is very likely. Becoming the highest-scoring Canuck defenceman in his rookie season would be a great start to the rest of his career with the team.
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