NHL 12 is set to hit stores on September 13 for the XBox 360 and PlayStation 3 consoles and will have plenty of new features to drool over including a "Full Contact Physics Engine" and a "Dynamic Goalie" system that brings the franchise to a new and exciting level.
Honestly, watching a first look video sold me on this game and my words won't bring it justice. Click this link and look at the stunning graphics and a sneak peek at the aforementioned new features and something I am looking forward to, playing at the Winter Classic in Pittsburgh.
There has been plenty of speculation on who should grace the cover of EA Sports' latest installment of the NHL franchise and I have a feeling we will know more at E3, which takes place from June 7 to 9.
He is the poster child of the NHL and was the best in the game in my opinion up until New Years Day. It was on that day that his season changed and the balance of the NHL changed when David Steckel of the Washington Capitals laid out Crosby with a vicious hit to the head. Crosby played on, however, and suited up for the Penguins next game on January 5 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Victor Hedman effectively ended Crosby's season with the second hit to the head in as many days. Crosby finished the season with 66 points (32G, 34A) in 41 games played.
With all the commitments with Reebok, Gatorade, Tim Horton's and a slew more of sponsorship appearances, combined with his recovery from the concussion, he has a lot on his plate already.
His season wasn't uneventful either. He went on a legendary streak of 25 games where he had at least a point and the streak saw him produce big numbers including 27 of his 32 goals, 24 assists and three hat-tricks for 51 points.
Crosby has never been on the cover of an NHL game and it won't begin this year.
The reason Toews won't be on the cover is simple. He was on it last year for NHL 11.
The Blackhawks did have a great year, despite trading away a bulk of their 2010 Stanley Cup winning roster, but they came up short of defending their championship when they lost in Game 7 of the Western Conference Quarter-Finals to the Vancouver Canucks.
Toews had a respectable year in 2010-11, scoring 32 goals for 76 points and only missing two games. He also recorded two goals and six points in the playoffs.
We keep going down the list of previous cover boys and find Toews' teammate and former first overall selection, Patrick Kane.
He, just like Toews, suffered a let down due to the dismantling of the Chicago Blackhawks' championship roster from a year ago but as I mentioned in the last slide, the team still played great hockey, making the playoffs in a very competitive Western Conference.
Kane only missed nine games in 2010-11 and recorded 27 goals and 73 points but we're not talking stats, were talking about the cover of a video game and Kane got his time in the EA spotlight so he won't be there again.
Not since Mats Sundin on NHL 2K6's release in Canada and Europe has a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs been on the cover of a video game.
It won't change this year either. Phil Kessel has been under the microscope since coming over in that blockbuster trade that sent two first round picks and a second round pick to the Boston Bruins in September 2009.
Kessel played in all 82 games for the blue and white this season, recording 32 goals and 64 points in the process, tops on the team.
The turning point for Kessel happened when he was the last to be chosen during the NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft. He got a car for it so he couldn't complain.and went on to help lead the Leafs to a turn around season with playoff aspirations that lasted up until late in the season.
Give the Leafs a couple years and a playoff appearance before you see one of their players on a video game cover, although it will probably be Leafs captain (and NHL '09 cover athlete) Dion Phaneuf before Kessel.
The 2010-11 season was an uncharacteristic one for Alex Ovechkin. Blame it on fatigue or blame it on a new Washington Capitals system, Ovechkin had his struggles.
This was the first time in his NHL career that he scored less than 40 goals and 90 points in a season (Ovie had 32 goals and 85 points) but his team had major success during the regular season, entering the post-season as the No. 1 seed after finishing with 107 points, second in the NHL behind the Vancouver Canucks (117 PTS).
Ovechkin was also the cover athlete for NHL '07 and NHL 2K10 so don't expect him to be on it until Washington can get back to the Conference Finals at the very least.
Daniel Sedin is on this list because if a Canucks player is going to make the cover, it will be his twin brother, Henrik.Sedin
Don't get me wrong, Daniel would be an excellent candidate for the spot after having a career year with 41 goals, 104 points and is still playing on with the Canucks in the upcoming Stanley Cup Finals but like I said, Henrik had his career year last season and has led the team during the 2010-11 campaign so if a Canuck is there, it will not be Daniel.
Daniel already has some accolades to take in once this season is over including the Art Ross Trophy and a potential Hart Trophy.
The twins were on the cover of last year's Swedish release of NHL '11.
Kesler had a career high in goals with 41 and has 18 points in the playoffs thus far.
Another member of the Canucks family that had a superstar year but will be overshadowed by the captain of their respective team, Henrik Sedin.
Kesler already has a cover to his credit (NHL 2K11) so I don't expect him to be the face I see when I pick up my copy of NHL '12 on September 13.
Being a big fish in a small pond can sometimes be a bad thing. In the case of Rick Nash, this statement holds true.
Nash has been a consistent 30 goal scorer in recent years but with only one playoff appearance to show for it, he is definitely not a prime candidate for the cover athlete slot.
The Blue Jackets captain had 32 goals and 66 points in 2010-11 and Columbus finished in 13th place in the Western Conference.
Nash was a cover athlete for NHL 2K9 as well so the big fish will take that for now.
For the amount of money and the amount of attention that surrounded Ilya Kovalchuk during the offseason a year ago, I am a little disappointed in what he brought to the Devils' lineup in the 2010-11 season.
He did put up superstar numbers (31 G, 60 PTS) but the Devils failed to make the playoffs for the first time since the 1995-96 season.
Kovalchuk may have signed a 15-year, $100 million dollar contract but he won't be the man to sign the release form for the cover of NHL '12.
Hall had some promise with the Edmonton Oilers, however, in a fight with Columbus' tough guy Derek Dorsett on March 3, Hall suffered a high ankle sprain and was sidelined the rest of the season.
The rookie forward recorded 22 goals and 42 points in 65 games in 2010-11 but the Oilers stayed in the basement of the NHL and now holds the second consecutive first overall pick in the draft.
Hall was relatively marketable and showed some character in the season but he (as well as several Oilers players) has a long way to go before another Oiler besides Gretzky graces the cover of a video game.
Marian Gaborik dropped his style of play a bit after suffering a shoulder injury early into the season against the Maple Leafs.
After setting a career high 86 points in 2009-10, Gaborik finished the 2010-11 campaign with 48 points (22 G, 26 A) and was rendered almost useless in the Rangers five-game playoff loss to the Washington Capitals, registering a goal and an assist in that span.
In a city like New York, players like Gaborik need to play better and have better supporting players in order to be successful and considering the Rangers' media have done more on Sean Avery and the continuing back and forth between head coach John Tortorella and New York Post writer Larry Brooks, Gaborik won't be getting that cover anytime soon.
The Senators have suffered set backs. They made the Cup Finals in 2006-07 and now in 2010-11, had to climb their way out of last place in the East after being there most of the season.
When Spezza became the cover athlete for NHL 2K8, he recorded a career high 92 points. Since then, things have just gone down hill for the Ottawa Senators forward. In 2010-11, he recorded 57 points while missing 20 games.
When trying to promote a game on the rise, having a player on a career plummet isn't the best to have on the cover of their worldwide beloved video game.
The most marketable player on their roster, in my opinion, other than possibly Daniel Alfredsson will not be the cover athlete for NHL '12, plain and simple.
Getzlaf enjoyed his first season as the captain of the Anaheim Ducks in 2010-11 and is marketable enough that even though he is on my list here, it wouldn't surprise me in the least if the NHL and EA Sports did otherwise.
The reason I have him on here is because although he led the Ducks to a fourth place finish in the Western Conference, he finished with 19 goals for the second year in a row and was overshadowed by another Ducks player, Corey Perry.
Perry had 50 goals, the only player in the league to do so and thus, won the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy. Perry is also a finalist for the Hart Trophy and is speculated to be one of the names floating around for the cover of NHL '12.
It's nothing personal, it's just the price of business. Byufglien had a career year for the Atlanta Thrashers after it was told he would struggle in his move from forward to defenseman.
Byfuglien had career highs in goals (20) and points (53) in a year coming off a Stanley Cup victory with the Chicago Blackhawks. His play was enough for Thrashers management to sign him to a five-year contract extension.
The issue with Byfuglien here is that he is in Atlanta, a team that is potentially on the move to Winnipeg as early as this year, though those talks are still ongoing.
Imagine an Atlanta Thrashers jersey on the cover of a video game being released when the team doesn't exist (or exists elsewhere). I don't think the NHL and EA Sports would do that, unless talks die down and the Thrashers are safe and sound in Atlanta but in my opinion, none of that matters, the Thrashers aren't marketable and will continue to be.
If they were, Kovalchuk would've made at least one cover and the last time a Thrashers player made the cover, it was Dany Heatley with NHL '04 and it had to be pulled due to the bad press he got following the car accident that claimed the life of Dan Snyder and even then, Heatley wasn't the original choice.
Sharks forward Joe Thornton was but the NHL switched to Heatley following an incident in 2003 where Thornton (then a member of the Boston Bruins) was accused of assaulting two police officers.
Yes, I am turning this one into the marketability of the Atlanta Thrashers franchise but I digress. Despite the great year Byfuglien had, he won't be the cover athlete for NHL '12.