EA Sports’ NHL 18 video game hits stores Thursday (though EA Access subscribers can play a 10-hour trial now), and for maybe the third time in history, Columbus Blue Jackets fans can look forward to a strong digital version of their favorite team in this year’s edition.
The Blue Jackets check in this year with a 90 overall rating, comprised of an 89 offense, 92 defense and 92 goaltending. That ties the Washington Capitals for third in the Metropolitan Division, behind the Pittsburgh Penguins’ and New York Rangers’ 92 overall score. The CBJ’s 90 places them with Anaheim, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Toronto, Buffalo and Boston. That’s not bad, though it’s strange to see Winnipeg ahead (and Chicago one point behind for the first time in memory).
For what it’s worth, Cleveland’s 70 rank ties Springfield for the worst in the AHL (67 offense, 74 defense and 70 goaltending). That’s what happens when you develop your players and get them on the NHL roster.
All current players are ranked for the Blue Jackets and Monsters, provided they’ve played at least one real-life pro game (so no Pierre-Luc Dubois or Vitaly Abramov). One thing to keep in mind: EA Sports toned down their ratings system this year, and it shows.
Truthfully? I’m fine with most of this. Artemi Panarin deserves to lead the group, though I think Atkinson could stand to be an 85. Here’s where nerfing the rating comes in: Atkinson was an 85 to start the 2016-17 season, too. Tyler Motte finds himself on the Cleveland roster to start the season.
At the start of the 2016-17 season, Dubinsky was an 87, Foligno was an 86 and Wennberg an 84.
Would like to see Seth Jones a little bit higher than Ryan Murray and David Savard, but I don’t feel bad about the Jackets icing five defensemen 82 or higher. Savard was 87 last season, along with Johnson and Jones (Ryan Murray was an 86), so you can see how they’ve squeezed everyone down.
EA Sports ranked Bob the third-best goalie in the league, behind Braden Holtby (90 overall) and Carey Price (92) overall. Kind of weird a two-time Vezina-winning goalie isn’t at least a 90, no? Cory Schneider (89) and Matt Murray (88) follow Bob in fourth and fifth, respectively. Glad to see they knocked Joonas Korpisalo down from his 82 to start last season.
Full Team Ratings
There you have it. These ratings change throughout the season of course, so I’m guess Bjorkstrand and Motte will see their stock improve as they progress.
One last thing: for the umpteenth straight year, EA Sports still has the Columbus crowd inaccurately chant “Let’s go Blue Jackets.” Blech.
What do you think about this year’s numbers?