02:38 PM - September 2, 2010 by Qb
Well... it's time. Those of you who have spent your summer crying out for BAGM information should find many of the answers here. I spent a good deal of time at the May community event tinkering with GM mode, so I have no shortage of nuggets of BAGM knowledge to share. I'd like to think there wasn't a stone unturned in my explorations, but I'm sure as I spend more time with the full version of the game I'll discover a thing or two that slipped by me...
With that, let's start with an overview of the key new features/improvements:
• CHL Integration
• RFA/UFA rules per the CBA
• Revamped trade AI for more realistic CPU/CPU and User/CPU transactions
• Ability to trade up to 5 years worth of picks
• Improved trade screen with ability to make up to 5-for-5 deals
• New stats panels in BAGM hub screen by scrolling with R-stick
• Authentic draft pick ownership
Sounds good, eh? But much of this was previously announced and what I'd like to do is give the OS community some insight into some of the finer details that await us in NHL11 BAGM. So without further delay…
To me, this is biggest addition for the long term value of Be A GM mode. With the integration of the CHL and its players, the inclusion of NHL rights for previously drafted players was a logical next step. However, the EA Canada team didn’t stop there… perhaps your team recently drafted a European prospect that remained overseas for further seasoning (e.g., Tedenby, Pajaarvi-Svensson, or Granlund). Provided the league in which they play is in NHL11, these players will be tied to the NHL clubs per the rules of the CBA and imported into your BAGM. In addition, we will be able to draft real prospects from the CHL and all five European leagues, along with created prospects from other regions.
Which leads nicely to the subject of draft re-entry and rights expiration… NHL teams hold player rights for two years, after which a player will re-enter the draft or become a free agent (depending on his age) if he is not signed. So as the GM of an NHL franchise, you’ll have to make the call on when to sign your draft picks in accordance with CBA rules. Sign your top picks right away to give them a shot at the NHL club or let them develop for a year or two before committing. Remember, you’ll have plenty of decisions to make regarding your draft picks, as the entry draft is now an authentic 7 rounds.
Authentic RFA/UFA Rules
I can’t possibly approach the level of detail provided in the recent In the Crease blog, so I won’t even try! During my brief foray into the re-signing phase at the community event, I was able to get a small glimpse of the depth of this much requested feature. RFA status is true to the NHL CBA, with qualifying offers required to retain the player’s rights or you can offer an extension from the start. However, you must make a qualifying offer or agree to a new contract with all RFAs prior to the start of UFA (July 1), otherwise they become unrestricted free agents.
Qualified RFAs remain property of the team but are subject to potential offer sheets with the authentic compensation rules. My brief test run with RFA/UFA in May was with the Rangers. My notes reveal I was able to re-sign Marc Staal to a 4-year, $14M ( $3.5M/yr) extension as an RFA, a fair deal for all parties involved if say so myself. I was tempted to offer him an 8-year deal, but I decided not to push my luck… yes, the maximum contract offer is now 8 years. Unfortunately, that testing session ended before I could submit any offer sheets…
A few final points of interest, the correct December 1st eligibility deadline for RFA holdouts to sign a contract is in. If a restricted free agent does not sign by 12/1, he cannot play in the NHL during that season. Are you listening Bobby Ryan? Also, we will be able to trade the rights of tendered RFAs (think Dan Hamhuis to Philly then Pittsburgh). Finally, the new team contract screen is flat-out top-notch. Anyone familiar with CapGeek should instantly see some similarities. Players are clearly designated as signed or unsigned and color-coded by status. Yearly cap hits are displayed in an easy to track chart to assist cap-conscious GMs in building their organization.
New for NHL11 is a preseason schedule. If my notes are correct, it consists of four games against NHL opponents. These were implemented to let the user get a look at their prospects before they make roster decisions regarding returning players to the AHL or CHL. So yes, authentic rules apply, and we will have the ability to return signed CHL players to Junior if eligible. If it is done before they play 10 NHL games, it will not count as a year of his contract.
Revamped Trade AI and Interface
While it is impossible to make a definitive judgment on CPU trade AI from such a small sample size, the results were encouraging. Without having the time to simulate entire seasons, I have to rely on what I was told -- the frequency of trades and players being placed on waivers was greatly reduced when compared to NHL10.
While simulating the 2010 draft, I saw only a handful of CPU/CPU trades; Robert Nilsson & 4th for Chuck Kobasew & 2nd and Cory Sarich & 2nd for Sami Salo & 4th were two deals I noted. When using the Rangers, I had Donald Brasher on the trade block during the draft; during the third round, Carolina called me to offer Casey Borer (a mid-70s 20-something D-man of C/B-/C potential) for Brashear and my 2011 2nd round pick. Eager to dump Brashear, but reluctant to part with a high pick, I countered with my 2010 4th rounder in place of the 2nd and it was accepted. Seems reasonable enough, right?
Now to reveal why I chose to test with the Rangers… I wanted to see if I could offload Wade Redden and his albatross of a contract. And the answer is I could not, at least not during the draft, and this is despite him having an overall rating above 80. I tried to match up team wants, tried to find teams with cap room, tried to ask for mid 70s guys with average potential… all rejected. Perhaps if I had some more time I could have gone for an insignificant late pick or a career AHLer, but I can say I wasn’t able to get anything of value for him during my attempts.
While wheeling & dealing, I took note of the improved trade interface, which includes the ability to scroll through additional player information and ratings by using the R-stick. Very helpful and a welcome addition for anyone who remembers trying to access info when putting together trades in NHL10. I was disappointed to see that when the CPU accepts your offer, the trade still goes through. An additional prompt for the user to accept the trade would’ve been a nice addition. But don’t worry, that information will reach the right people…
And not to gloss over it, but we can now trade future draft picks for up to five seasons, with future picks having less trade value the further you go out (although 1st rounders are pretty valuable regardless of year). Also, five assets per team can be traded, so best of luck in putting together a huge offer to pry away a superstar or in blowing up your underachieving team in a massive multi-player deal with virtual Darryl Sutter…
BAGM Main Hub
This one is hard to do without visuals, so if I find any screens, I’ll get them in… The BAGM main hub was tweaked to provide more information on one easy to navigate screen. A stats panel on the right displays a wealth of data from standings to scoring leaders and other stats leaders. The bottom of the screen now features games and scores from around the league. I believe it is scores only for now (no expandable box scores), but at least we can now see what our rivals are doing. It should add a little spice to the playoff chase…
Draft Pick Ownership
A slick (and unexpected) addition, this user option when setting up your BAGM accounts for real life trades of draft picks when “authentic” is selected (eg, the Kessel trade). “Default” results in every team having all of its picks at the start of the mode. Very cool attention to detail by the NHL team for those of us who like things to be as accurate as possible.
I know it was difficult listening to my broken record of “don’t worry, there’s no shortage of BAGM improvements”, so I hope it was worth the wait. I tried to be as comprehensive as possible considering this is based only off my time with NHL11 in May. I’m sure there are a few tidbits I missed either in writing or in researching… for example, while digging through GM mode, I discovered we are now able to edit positions, height/weight, handedness, and NHL rights. (Editor’s note: I believe editing is still limited to the user team during BAGM, however it’s fair game from the main roster management screen.) While some issues from NHL10 require long-term evaluation to see if they were truly resolved, I am confident that I’ll be telling my EASHL teammates on multiple occasions that I’ll be a few minutes while I finish my franchise game.
Feel free to post questions and I’ll answer what I can, when I can. Remember, it’s community event impressions only for now, so I don’t have sim results.