The Canucks have played well so far this season. Using a predictive model, we will look at the club’s projected point total and chances at the playoffs.
The Vancouver Canucks are off to a good start in the 2017-18 season. Their current record is 7-4-2 and despite a string of losses, the club is looking like a playoff team. We are only 13 games in, but the playoffs are currently a hot topic in this market. I want to try taking an analytical look at where we should expect the team to finish by the end of the season.
As you can tell from my articles, I am a fan of analytics and use Corsica as an important resource. Another interesting feature of Corsica is making NHL predictions. Let’s start with the current chances of the Canucks making the playoffs. According to Corsica’s playoff prediction model, the team has a 34.8% chance of playing games in to late April*.
These are the 23rd best odds in the league. It is worth noting that the Edmonton Oilers have a 67.4% chance of making the playoffs, despite their rocky start. It makes sense, because teams make the playoffs in late March/early April and not in November, giving teams ample time to recover any lost ground from the start of the season.
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The second thing I want to look at is the number of points the Canucks are projected to have after 82 games. Corsica predicts that the team will likely end up with 88 points, plus or minus 5 points.
Is that a playoff spot? Well, it depends. The same projection model has the last Wild Card team in the Western Conference having 93 points. That team happens to be the Nashville Predators. The Canucks will be aiming for the final Wild Card in the West if they make the playoffs.
Implications of the result
If the predictions are exactly perfect (they won’t, but let’s say they are for the sake of the argument), then the Canucks will likely miss the playoffs. There are a few implications to this outcome.
First, the Canucks would finish 23rd overall in the league, giving the team a 5.051% chance of drafting Rasmus Dahlin. For a team that is still rebuilding, that’s disappointing. The Canucks need a number one defenceman and personally, I would like to have the best possible odds to add him to our prospect pool.
Secondly, since the Canucks will not finish in the bottom three for the third year in a row, the current management group will likely be left intact. Missing the playoffs was a death knell for prior regimes during the Aquilini ownership, but it seems things have changed. I don’t know if Jim Benning receives an extension, but he would keep his job after this finish.
Lastly, the young players on the Canucks won’t receive any playoff experience. The team would be caught in the dreaded “No Man’s Land.” They would not be good enough to be a playoff team, but also not poor enough to draft in the top three, barring a miracle lottery draw.
We will have to see how the chips fall by the end of the season. The Canucks could get that extra push to get make the playoffs in April. But if they come up short, we will debate if the drive for the playoffs was worth the drop in draft position. For now, to quote the immortal Al Davis, “Just win, baby!”
*Point projections and playoff chances were taken on November 4th, 2017