It is easy to get overwhelmed by the various variables found in NHL 09’s online character creator.
From body size to attributes to the little details like sticks and skates, every decision in the create-a-pro section has a significant impact on what a created player can or cannot do on the ice.
So, hopefully this guide helps players better understand what the heck all these fancy options do, and in turn, helps people tweak those options to get the most out of their Frankenstein creations.
First off, for a complete description of all the different attributes, check out this thread from the official NHL 09 forums.
There is also some information that you will not find there.
Unfortunately, as of this writing, size matters in a number of peculiar ways in NHL 09. A player’s height, for instance, can affect his athleticism, yet for some reason, a player’s weight seems only to affect his shooting stats, not his athleticism.
What makes this scale even more complicated is the fact that height, like weight, also affects the player’s shooting attributes.
The scale can be summarized by saying that shorter players are fast but have poor shots, while taller players are slow but have good shots.
Weight works in a similar fashion -- with the bigger guys being better shots than the smaller guys. The major difference between height and weight is that weight (illogically) does not change the athleticism of the player at all. In NHL 09’s twisted world, the 275-pound slugs move just as fast as the 150-pound shrimps.
Nonetheless, here are some ideal player weights for defensemen -- they need to worry more about shot power than speed.
Ideal defenseman sizes
- 6-foot-2, 270 pounds
- 6-foot-3, 241 pounds
- 6-foot-4, 225 lbs
For each of the given heights, the weight that goes along with it is as light as a defenseman can be while still receiving the five-star slap shot power bonus.
Size matters in NHL 09: bigger players skate slow but shoot hard, while smaller players make up for their weak shots with superior speed.
Source: Scene Source
For forwards, determining the proper height/weight combo becomes a bit trickier since player speed is actually more important for most forwards than any of the shot bonuses that might be gained from the added height/weight.
The best advice I can give you when creating a forward is to make him small at first, then gradually build up his physique until speed and shooting achieve a nice balance. Of course, depending on whether the player is a wing or a center, that balance will vary a good deal.
This is where assigning attributes becomes a bit more difficult. Aside from the fairly insignificant deke rating, literally every one of the stats in this category has its own particular advantages.
As most of these categories are self-explanatory, the only one that really needs some clarification is "offensive awareness," which, contrary to how it functions in other EA Sports games, is actually extremely useful for human players in NHL 09. Offensive awareness in NHL 09 improves a player’s ability to magically "vacuum" loose pucks onto his stick during scrums, rebound opportunities, etc.
So, where should all these points go? Well, players just need to decide for themselves what kind of role they will be fulfilling on offense and spend their points accordingly.
Going to spend a lot of time hanging around the net? Then pour all the points into awareness and deflections to make sure your player gets his stick on the puck as much as possible.
Going to be a pass-first player who is only going to take point-blank shots? Then it is OK to completely ignore those shooting categories and bump up the passing/puck handling ratings instead.
Even for the shoot-first players (i.e., those who will be taking most of their shots from the slot out to the blue line), it is important to decide whether to boost the slap shot, which is better for long-range snipers, or the wrist shot, which is better for short- and medium-range sniping.
And what about shot accuracy versus power? Frankly, it seems like power is the better of the two categories to boost. Accuracy can be easily gained by choosing the proper flex/curve of a hockey stick (more on that later), while the extra power is not as easily replaceable. Also, a heavy shot can lead to rebound opportunities.
Of these attributes, there are two that can be more or less disregarded -- aggressiveness and discipline -- the former because it only affects CPU players, and the latter because it simply decreases the likelihood of creating random hitting penalties.
Shot blocking, too, is also a fairly weak category to spend points on because all it really does is unlock a "standing block" animation that is not much more useful than the numerous other means of blocking shots.
So, what are the best categories?
For centers, it is best to pour all the points into the faceoff rating -- only go to 95 because there does not seem to be much of an advantage when taking it all the way to 99 -- then spend the leftover points on defensive awareness.
For forwards who will be doing the bulk of the team’s puck handling, the balance attribute is particularly helpful for maintaining control of the puck and fighting through body checks.
For all other positions, defensive awareness is the category that will have the biggest impact over the course of a game. This type of awareness makes it easier for players to automatically tip or intercept passes, which can be a huge help for people who know how to use positional defense to disrupt the opposing offense.
Unlike other EA Sports games, awareness is actually one of the best attributes in the game because of all the automated animations that are tied to the awareness rating.
Frankly, there really are only three attributes that matter here: acceleration, agility and speed.
Contrary to natural instincts, it is actually not a good idea to put as many points as possible into speed. You want to focus on acceleration as well. Reason being, players with low acceleration ratings and high speed ratings will rarely get to use that top speed because it will take too much time to reach that top gear.
A better balance of acceleration/speed would be:
- 88 acceleration
- 84 speed
- 88 acceleration
- 86 speed
Agility, which basically just affects turning speed, is not all that useful for forwards.
Defensemen, however, might get a little more use out of the extra agility because of all the lateral movement involved with the position. Even then though, defenders may still be better served bumping up the all-important speed and acceleration categories so they can keep up with the forwards.
In the end, it is really a matter of preference. Good defensemen will make the argument that they are never out of position in the first place and have no use for the extra speed, while other defensemen might argue that turnovers are just a part of hockey, which makes the extra speed boost a requirement for those times when the defense is caught chasing a forward down the ice.
While there are a couple pages of brand names and models to choose from when picking out a hockey stick, what really matters is the type of flex and curve that is on the stick.
For the stick flex, here is a handy chart created by DaveyG of the EASHL forums that lists all the various attribute effects that are related to stick flex and player sizes.
(Click image to enlarge)
As for the stick curves, there are also four of those to choose from, each with a different set of attribute boosts and shooting tendencies.
As the star ratings indicate, some stick curves are designed for wrist shots while others are better suited for slap shots. There are also some stick curves in the middle that strike a balance between wrist/slap shots. So, just like with stick flex, players need to make sure to choose the option that best compliments their skater’s offensive tendencies.
As with the sticks, the actual brand/model of skates has no relevance on a player’s attributes. What is important here is the length of the blade on the skates. Essentially, there are three types of skates: the all-agility 9" blades, the all-around 11" blades, and the all-speed/acceleration 13" blades.
As for which skates to select, it really depends on two things:
1. A player’s position and player build
2. Choosing to buffer a player’s strong points or improve visible weaknesses
Generally speaking, wingers need speed more than any other position on the ice and can benefit the most from the added speed acceleration of the 13" blade.
Centers might want to consider the all-around skates because they have to do a fair amount of turning around and are not just going to be rocketing along the ice in straight lines.
Defensemen do more turning around than just about any other position on the ice and are constantly moving laterally, not vertically, so they might want to give the all-agility skates a try.
As always, the best advice is to simply try out the various combos on the ice, and find a combination that works best for the position/build.
For a complete list of the default attributes, check out this handy chart made by the guys over at EASHLforum.com.
As for what to do with the extra attribute points that are earned by playing online games, here are a few sample player builds, which assume that the player has a "legend" card and the full 20 points to spend in each category:
- puck control +10 (85)
- offensive awareness +10 (90)
- faceoff +15 (95)
- defensive awareness +5 (80)
- acceleration +8 (88)
- speed +12 (84)
- passing +10 (90)
- puck control +7 (95)
- wrist shot power +3 (78)
- balance +15 (85)
- defensive awareness +5 (80)
- acceleration +8 (88)
- speed +12 (86)
Defenseman (defensive defenseman)
- passing +5 (70)
- slap shot power +15 (95)
- defensive awareness +19 (99)
- balance +1 (86)
- acceleration +8 (88)
- agility +12 (82)
Of course, one of the reasons why NHL 09's online mode has become such an addictive phenomenon is because there is literally a limitless number of player builds that can be created.
At the end of the day, a successful player build is simply one where all the attribute points are going into categories that best support a player's position (center, winger, etc.) and his playing style on the ice.
So, tell us, what kind of playing style do you prefer? And what kind of build do you think best suits that style of play?