No way the Isles make the playoffs, and here's why:
-They didn't improve in the offseason. No having youngsters with another year under their belt is NOT an improvement-youngsters on every team has this luxury.
Let's look at our competition:
Penguins: no way we pass them
Flyers: see above
Rangers: see above
Bruins: see above Capitals: see above
Panthers: see above
This leaves us with just 2 spots we can grab (and that's being VERY generous). So:
Devils: Sorry but losing Parise doesn't drop a team from a game-6 in the Cup finals to finishing behind the 14th place team in the conference. Devils are a much deeper team than the Isles. Very unlikely Isles finish better.
Canes: The Canes improved their team in the offseson (and they were already clearly better than the Isles).
Sabres: Better than the Islanders last year. If they take a step back we MIGHT be able to pass them. Proof you need? Boyes was on their 4th line, he'll be on our 2nd at the lowest.
Toronto: We might pass!
Montreal: We might pass, but they could easily finish above us-Price is good enough to steal enough games.
Senators: Better than us, I think we gain ground but don't pass.
Tampa: Better than us, and after a decent offseason is still better than us. Unlikely we pass them.
Winnipeg: On paper I think the Isles are better-but the Jets had a pretty good season last year and could easily build upon it.
Now do I think we could finish above some of the above teams? Sure. Do I think we could finish above SEVEN of them? Absolutely not. What 7 teams do you think the Isles are better then?
I think the 2 bolded aren't solidified for the playoffs.