Today is trade deadline day, so I wanted to wait until all roster moves are completed before starting to play a new season of EA NHL, since most of the trades that are made in real life the game refuses to accept. So in the meantime, I've been keeping up to date with roster moves, manually trading players as the news is posted. Of course, once you start the season all bets are off, as the computer controlled teams are free to trade amongst themselves and you often see players being nabbed off the waiver wire. However, while I was waiting I decided to go ahead and start a season and let the computer sim through it to see what the results would be.
A few quick notes... I have the older NHL 12, because the games are dramatically cheaper if you buy them a year behind. However, I downloaded a fan-made roster update that got me as far as August with roster moves and CAPs and such, and have manually adjusted the rosters throughout the season to reflect recent moves. So some players have low ratings based on playing in the juniors/minors despite the fact that they made the NHL this year, and the game winds up making different choices than we see in real life... for example, the game decided Nail Yakupov was better suited to stay in the juniors for another season, and decided Bennett and Despres were better off in the AHL. Also, because of the way the game handles 2-way deals, allowing players to freely move around, as compared to real life in which players on 2-way deals may still need to be placed on waivers depending on age/experience, the game also kept Bortuzzo in the AHL. Also, the Salary Cap winds up being a little different, because the game doesn't have the actual numbers to go by, and it uses a full 82-game season rather than this year's actual 48-game schedule. But despite these limitations, here are our results:
Allowing the computer to set the rosters, we wind up with the following lines:
Glass-Adams-Kennedy (Jeffrey, Vitale)
Strangely, those are the lines many people called for when we acquired Iginla. The game seems to agree with the popular fan opinion. The game also uses Jeffrey as the first choice to replace an injury, just as in real life. The defense is a little mixed up, but in general is rather acceptable. The AHL lines don't really work though, so we will just look at the NHL ones... here are the results at the end of the season.
Pittsburgh Penguins win the President's Trophy, but the Chicago Blackhawks come away with the Stanley Cup. We lost (to the Philadelphia Flyers of all people) in the 2nd round, and the Carolina Hurricanes managed to win the Prince of Wales Trophy.
Sidney Crosby walks away with the Art Ross, the Hart, the Rocket, the Lady Byng, and the Ted Lindsay trophies.
Kris Letang does not win the Norris and Pascal Dupuis does not win the Selke.
At the end of the season, Craig Adams announces his retirement. So does Joey Mormina, who was playing under an NHL contract for WBS. The game decides to replace Adams with Dustin Jeffrey at 4th line center.
Will any of this come true in real life? Hopefully some of it... Crosby bringing home a ton of hardware, the Pens finishing with the President's, that sounds good to me. But I think they need to bear down and bring home the Prince of Wales and the Stanley Cup as well. I'm also not ready to give up on Letang's Norris hopes or Dupuis' consideration for the Selke. Though as much as I don't want to see him go, I wouldn't be overly shocked to see Craig Adams retire.