Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

The bubbliest of bubble teams: Predicting the Canucks 2023-24 season

Most pundits, experts, and analytical models predict the Canucks will miss the playoffs.
Brock Boeser tries to keep Arturs Silovs from looking at the Vancouver Canucks season previews.

We are one day away from the start of the Vancouver Canucks’ 2023-24 season. It’s a crucial season, with a lot riding on it, as the Canucks have missed the playoffs in seven of their last eight seasons and their franchise forward, Elias Pettersson, is in the final year of his contract.

The Canucks also underwent an overhaul in the offseason. They executed the largest standard buyout in NHL history to rid themselves of Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s cap hit, then used that cap savings to revamp the defence and the bottom-six.

It’s not just new players either — the Canucks have new systems and structure from their new(ish) head coach. 

So, is it enough? Have the Canucks done enough to transform themselves into a playoff team this year? The team certainly thinks so, but what about those outside of the team?

The pundits mostly think the Canucks will miss the playoffs

Let’s take a look at what the pundits, experts, and analytical models say about the Canucks’ 2023-24 season.


The assemblage of pundits at The Hockey News and The Hockey Writers are both on the same page: the Canucks will finish sixth in the Pacific Division and miss the playoffs. 

It’s an understandable position. It’s not even necessarily about the changes and improvements the Canucks have made but about the numerous other bubble playoff teams who will be competing with them. The Seattle Kraken, Los Angeles Kings, and Calgary Flames will all be pushing for that third spot in the Pacific behind the Edmonton Oilers and Vegas Golden Knights and there will be additional competition from the Central Division for the Wild Card spots.

Of the 16 staff members asked for their predictions — not included in the chart above — just six think the Canucks will make the playoffs, with five of them picking the Canucks to barely sneak into the postseason in the second Wild Card spot, with the sixth picking them to finish third in the Pacific.

Greg Wyshynski at ESPN also thinks the Canucks will sneak in, finishing fourth in the division and earning a Wild Card berth to the playoffs.

“My prediction of a Canucks playoff berth hinges on Elias Pettersson being just as good — and maybe even better — than he was last season,” said Wyshynski. “It's going to take a lot of things going right, including solid performances from their depth forwards and a penalty kill that isn't an abject embarrassment, but I think Vancouver is going to be just a little bit better than Seattle and Calgary and will get back into the postseason.”

That’s the view of the pundits and experts — what about the analytical models?

Analytical models see the Canucks at worse than a coin flip

Micah Blake McCurdy at HockeyViz updated his model this season and it has a dim view of the Pacific Division as a whole, with McCurdy calling it, “the weakest division in the league this season.”

McCurdy’s model, which simulates the regular season one million times, puts the Canucks at an average of 88.8 points, which lands them at sixth in the Pacific and 22nd overall in the NHL. In those million simulations, the Canucks made the playoffs 43% of the time, which is a little worse than a coin flip but significantly better than one in a million.

The twins at Evolving-Hockey end up with a similar result in their model, projecting 89.2 points for the Canucks — sixth in the Pacific and 21st in the NHL — but give the Canucks worse odds of making the playoffs at 36.9%.

Unlike McCurdy’s model, the Evolving-Hockey model predicts the Pacific Division will actually be “extremely strong,” as the model is high on the Kraken and Flames in particular. If the Kraken and Flames underperform their projections, the Canucks will have a much better chance of making the playoffs.

While the model at MoneyPuck does not predict point totals, it also predicts the Canucks will finish sixth in the Pacific, though the model is a little bit more bullish on the Canucks’ playoff chances, landing at 47.4%.

The lone analytical model to give the Canucks a better than 50% chance of making the playoffs belongs to Dom Luszczyszyn at The Athletic. His model predicts a 92.4 point season for the Canucks and a 52% chance of making the playoffs, even if their most likely landing spot in the Pacific Division is fifth.

“A 100-point season — which is how they paced under Rick Tocchet against a soft schedule — isn’t out of the cards,” said Luszczyszyn. “The Canucks have a 19 percent chance of doing so; they just need a few things to go right to get there. There’s an equal chance, though, that some things go wrong instead and they end up exactly where they finished last season at 83 points.”

That’s about as bubble as a bubble team can get.

Finally, what do the betting markets say about the Canucks? The analysts for these dens of iniquity have a vested interest in getting their odds right.

The odds before the start of the season at BetMGM Ontario had the Canucks at sixth in the Pacific Division, much like many other pundits and models. The over/under is set at 88.5 points and the Canucks have decimal odds of 2.45 to make the playoffs, which works out to a 40.82% chance of making the playoffs.

What do you think? Are the experts and models right? Where will the Canucks finish in the Pacific Division? Will they fall short of the playoffs for an eighth time in nine seasons? Or will the Canucks beat the odds and get back to the postseason?