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CanucksArmy’s way too early 2023-24 Stanley Cup Playoffs prediction primer

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Photo credit:© Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Cody Severtson
5 months ago
Alright, Canucks fans, are we feeling good?
Are we feeling excited?
Good! You should be!
Especially after Wednesday night’s 8-1 throttling of the Edmonton Oilers.
From collaborating on our roundtable mailbags to the Hot Take Survivor series, we’ve been having tons of off-season fun here at CanucksArmy, providing readers with a wide variety of opinions, takes, thoughts, and predictions. Before we dive full-swing into regular-season coverage, we thought it would be fun to give readers an idea of how each contributor expects the 2023-24 season to play out in this “WAY TOO EARLY playoff predictions primer.”
With that, here are the CanucksArmy team’s (way too early) predictions for the 2023-24 season!

Western Conference

The Western Conference clearly has three teams vying for the top position of their respective conferences and a deep pool of squads competing to rise above the mushy middle. Some teams are young, fast, here for a good time, aren’t bogged down by playoff expectations, and may ultimately surprise us all (Chicago, Arizona). Several teams are looking to rebound from underwhelming 2022-23 campaigns (Vancouver, Calgary, St. Louis). Many teams are looking to build off last season’s playoff successes or failures but whose off-season addition/subtraction bets may not mesh with their ambition (Edmonton, Seattle, Los Angeles, Colorado, Winnipeg). Then, a couple of teams are effectively running it back with the same squads from last year but are hoping for that “next step” from their prospect group (Dallas, Minnesota).
Your Vancouver Canucks featured in the Top Three of the Pacific Division on three of our writer’s ballots, with only one contributor leaving them out of the playoff picture entirely: Wyatt ‘The Stanchion’ Arndt.
Before you race to the comments to dunk on a contributor’s ballot! Let them explain their HOT predictions for you!
Wyatt Arndt: Chicago makes the playoffs because home-grown Vancouver talent always has to excel and win for other teams right away; this is the rule.
Lachlan Irvine: The Canucks will beat out the Flames for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference. It’s make-or-break time for this group, and they will finally cross the threshold.
David Quadrelli: LA will be worse than people expect; they didn’t add much in the offseason and lost Alex Edler, who GETS RESULTS!
Stephan Roget: The Central has fallen, and the Pacific will rise. The Canucks are in tough to crack the top three in their Division, but a fairly weak Central will see two wild card spots up for grabs for the Pacific; the Canucks are probably going to snag one of them. How far has the Central fallen? Far enough that I’m predicting the Arizona Coyotes in the top three. And you know what? They deserve it.
Dave Hall: The Canucks will sport the hottest goalie tandem and sneak into a wild card, but Dallas will be the ones to make it to the Stanley Cup Final out of the west.
Chris Faber: Chicago will surprise some people on the back of Connor Bedard.
Michael Liu: I think Chicago makes the playoffs thanks to Bedard absolutely popping off and the Winnipeg Jets completely melting down this season. Plus, the NHL might rig it for the Hawks.
EDITORS NOTE: Are the Stanley Cup Playoffs even the Stanley Cup Playoffs without an underlying conspiracy theory originated by frustrated Canucks fans?
Cody Severtson: The Central is too old and too young to be in wild card contention. Speed will rule the NHL this season. The Pacific is LOADED with teams looking to make up for last season, whether that’s Calgary, Vancouver, LA, or Edmonton. Los Angeles pulled the drain plug on their prospect pool to juice their lineup via trades. Unfortunately, their goalie trifecta is one of the worst in the Conference. I think they miss the playoffs because of that glaring weakness. Also, is enough noise being made about the Vegas Golden Knights *finally* getting over their bad playoff juju? With Marchessault and Chandler Stephenson hitting UFA this summer, both are due for HUGE “contract year” seasons. I can see them repeating as champs.

Eastern Conference

Unlike the Western Conference, the Eastern predictions were all over the map.
However, like our Pacific and Central Division top twos, there was a clear unanimous selection for best teams in the East, with New Jersey, Carolina, and Toronto dominating the top of everyone’s ballots.
The East features a ton of squads in their immediate contention window (New Jersey, New York Rangers, Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning, and the Toronto Maple Leafs). A couple of teams are struggling to maintain relevancy as their squads get significantly older and slower (New York Islanders, Pittsburgh Penguins, and the Boston Bruins). Then there are the come-ups in the Ottawa Senators and Vancouver’s expansion brothers, Buffalo, whose mileage varies depending on who you talk to.
Wyatt Arndt: The Buffalo Sabres are going to finish first in the NHL based purely on me squeezing my eyes shut really hard and wishing it into existence.
Lachlan Irvine: Boston will miss the playoffs after setting the NHL record for wins in a single season because, without Patrice Bergeron leading the way, this team has never been more vulnerable.
David Quadrelli: Ottawa and Buffalo are going to take the step, and people are overrating the Rangers. Throw this one in Hot Take Survivor!
Stephan Roget: The Atlantic Division might be the most fun to be had this year. I look there and see at least seven teams that could genuinely make the playoffs. The Montreal Canadiens are also there! Let’s go ahead and say that both of the 1970 Expansion Cousins make it into the post-season this year, setting up a Buffalo versus Vancouver finals down the road, say in 2027.
Dave Hall: Buffalo vs New Jersey Eastern Conference Final. Book it.
Chris Faber: I’m going to say that the Sabres find some magic, and Devon Levi becomes their full-time starter.
Michael Liu: The Devils are going to get the combined powers of two Hughes and absolutely rip through the metro.
Cody Severtson: The Metropolitan Division sucks and is too boring to predict. Carolina will probably repeat as 1st in the Division, but I don’t buy them as a legit Cup Contender (bookmark this quote for when they go to the finals), and I really like the Devils. Therefore, I’m picking Devils -> Canes -> Rangers as my 1-2-3. That being said, I don’t think the Rangers have done a single thing to improve their lineup following their 1st round loss to the Devils. They’re older and slower, and nothing about them has fundamentally improved. They’ll finish 3rd in the Division based on their stars doing their usual, but they will probably finish with fewer points than the 2nd wild card team. Speaking of wild card! Let’s go, Buffalo! If they can flip a one-trick shooter like Victor Olofsson for a credible two-way contributor, they can seriously improve their playoff odds! Especially if Devon Levi is Le-git. Olofsson has one year left at $4.75m… Conor Garland has three years left at $4.95m… The Sabres need cost certainty moving forward now that their core is locked up, and they have picks, prospects, and oodles of cap space. JUST SAYING!
Let us know in the comments your spicy playoff predictions now that the regular season is underway!

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