Best the isles could finish is 9th. Worst is 10th or 11th. They are not a playoff team. Don't have enough on the blueline, and the goaltending situation is still the biggest question mark. They don't have enough. Plus there are too many teams for them to jump over to get into the playoffs. Also they remain the weakest team in their division even though the flyers re-did half of their roster. And many of the team's that made the playoffs last year either slightly improved in the off-season or got much stronger. Isles barely upgraded for the most part.
Difference is this year they are not being lead by an aging injury prone vet like Doug Weight but a solid vet Mark Streit. Tavares is quickly maturing physically and mentally and if Okposo makes similar strides I wouldn't guarantee a playoff spot but I am very optimistic.
On any team winning is contagious and a solid start sets them up for a good season. Nabakov was a world class workhorse for San Jose and if he can show half that stamina, then we can have a solid goalie tandem. Likewise if the D can stay healthy along with the continuing development of Hamonic and Macdonald.
Down the middle two solid centers in Tavares and Nielsen plus vet Reasoner and Rolston and I would say there is some decent depth.
What may be lacking is the size and grit to beat Philly, a team which single handedly did them in.