Going with the Devils again. Having Parise back for the entire year will be big and Kovalchuk will build off of his strong 2nd half. Regardless, there will be some good teams missing the playoffs in the Eastern Conference next year.
1. I happen to think Montreal is a pretty good team, they made some nice additions and their goalie is only getting better. They can skate with the best teams, and its not out of the realm of possibility that they can win their division.
2. The Devils hired a new coach in July. Im not sure if anythings been said about this, but it takes a good amount of time to put a system and plan into place as a coach. Besides figuring out his players and what kind of philosophy he wants to approach the team with, he's thrown right into the fire with camp coming up quickly. Is it enough time to prepare? Probably, but that plan has to be focused very tightly and it has to be picked up by a team that went through some major ups and downs last season. I always, always hate to doubt the Devils, because they always wind up at the top. But they'll be an adjustment period for sure, it would have benefited the Devils if they brought in a coach with some time at the end of last season.
3. Still doubting Marty. Goaltending may become a problem for the Devils, its bound to happen sooner or later if you think has started already or not.
I do think either could get in, and probably 3 other teams below the 8 line as well. The parity is obviously in really good shape.