NHL 16: Star Player Ratings, Release Date and Gameplay Enhancements

Brian Mazique@@UniqueMaziqueCorrespondent IIISeptember 9, 2015

image provided by EA Sports

The gameplay in NHL 15 was rock-solid, but the feature set left a lot to be desired. For NHL 16, EA Sports sought to add back the features fans had grown to love, such as EASHL, fantasy drafts in Be a GM mode and simming ahead in Be a Pro.

Even if the developers had stopped there and simply given gamers the same on-ice action, there would have been some really happy people in the NHL gaming community. They didn't just throw in features; there are new gameplay elements to discuss as well, and it has NHL 16 looking like one of the standouts of the sports video game season.

Release Date: September 15

Platforms: PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

Positional Balance

From dragging a foot to stay onside to the subtle deflections of the puck or disrupting passing lanes, EA Sports has set out to make every position on the ice important. 

EASports.com wrote: 

Whether you play as a forward, defenseman or goalie, NHL 16 delivers a balanced gameplay experience that makes every position on the ice meaningful to team success. With gameplay innovation on offense and defense, players have new tools to not only score goals but to prevent them as well.

Gamers who played the EASHL beta in July and early August could attest to some of the new interactions that are possible in the game this year. This video clip shows off some of the nuances that have been added. Experienced fans of the series will notice more of the details.

Control the Crease

The new balance extends to the men in net.

Goalies have long been bystanders that felt more CPU-controlled in the NHL series for years. The new controls in the images below give a glimpse of what gamers can now do with their goalies:

image provided by EA Sports

image provided by EA Sports

image provided by EA Sports

Perhaps playing goalie might actually be fun in this year's game. If you watched the way the goalies moved in the video above, you can see that there's now more control than ever of the men in the crease.

Player Ratings

To no one's surprise, the Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby is the highest-rated player in NHL 16 with a 96 overall rating, per EASports.com. The 28-year-old future Hall of Famer had 84 points in 77 games for the Penguins, but he didn't capture the ultimate prize.

That belonged to the man in second place in the player ratings and his teammates. 

Jonathan Toews, the captain of the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks, is just behind Crosby with a 94 overall rating. How good will the Blackhawks be in NHL 16?

image provided by EA Sports

Consider this: The Blackhawks are the only team in the game that has two players in the Top 10. Defenseman Duncan Keith is one point behind Toews with a 93. Chicago's excellence goes even deeper than that, as Patrick Kane (92) and Marian Hossa (90) are both rated at a 90 or better.

Here's a look at the Top 21 players in the game this year:

Top 21 Players in NHL 16
Sidney CrosbyPittsburgh Penguins96
Jonathan ToewsChicago Blackhawks94
Carey PriceMontreal Canadiens94
Shea WeberNashville Predators94
Alex OvechkinWashington Capitals93
Duncan KeithChicago Blackhawks93
Drew DoughtyLos Angeles Kings93
Steven StamkosTampa Bay Lightning93
Henrik LundqvistNew York Rangers93
Pavel DatsyukDetroit Red Wings93
Ryan SuterMinnesota Wild93
Jonathan QuickLos Angeles Kings93
John TavaresNew York Islanders92
Jamie BennDallas Stars92
Corey PerryAnaheim Ducks92
Patrick KaneChicago Blackhawks92
Evgeni MalkinPittsburgh Penguins92
Anze KopitarLos Angeles Kings92
Tuuka RaskBoston Bruins92
Pekka RinneNashville Predators92
Henrik ZetterbergDetroit Red Wings92

Picking Chicago in an online game almost seems unfair.

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