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NHL 21 Season Opening Roster Deep Dive (Part One)

NHL 21 roster update

NHL 21

NHL 21 Season Opening Roster Deep Dive (Part One)

Kudos to EA for getting the season opening NHL 21 roster update out fairly quickly this year. The season opening roster update added players who weren’t previously in the NHL, including Kirill Kaprizov, Alexander Romanov, and Ilya Sorokin. Furthermore, rookies such as K’Andre Miller and Tim Stüetzle have been added to their NHL clubs. Additionally, players who were playing college hockey in the NCAA, such as Ian Mitchell of the Chicago Blackhawks, have been added as well.

Having said that, these roster updates are far from perfect and they still feature a number of glaring mistakes in them. These are mistakes that could be remedied by a roster share feature or a more elegant way to combine created rosters with the official EA updates, but alas.

Now, some folks will ignore the annoying mistakes I see and they might not be a huge deal to them. However, to me these mistakes/errors/omissions highlight a lack of attention to detail. Some of the things I’ll point out below have been unchanged for years in this series, and it’s why we need more control over the process.

Again, most of these things are minor in the grand scheme of things. Nevertheless, while I believe NHL 21 is heading in the right direction, and none of these surface errors will impact the actual gameplay in NHL 21, these roster issues are worth mentioning for those who do want to customize their own rosters to make them even more accurate.

The examples I point out below are things you can then use to update your roster on a more global scale if you wish. For example, EA could get away with saying certain younger players “do have the potential to be elite” if certain other things were true. However, If players like Corey Perry, who are way past their primes and have not significantly contributed in years, are still given “elite” potential, what kind of “roster updating” is EA actually doing? Additionally, there are no excuses for listing players who rarely score goals as snipers or players who barely record many assists as playmakers. The proof is in the stats.

Below are some of the surface errors that really stood out to me. Again, most of the things I highlight will be more surface/detail-oriented errors. I won’t touch on the overall rating system.

NHL 21 Season Opening Roster Deep Dive

Honda West Division

Las Vegas Golden Knights

  • Shea Theodore – Above average defensively but much more of an offensive defenseman.
  • Brayden McNabb – Should be more appropriately labeled as a defensive defenseman. Has only produced 90 points in 472 NHL games.
  • William Carrier – Has scored a total of 21 goals in 209 NHL games and yet is listed as a sniper.
  • Marc-Andre Fleury – The backup on his team and no longer an elite goaltender.

Minnesota Wild

  • Zach Parise – During his eight seasons in Minnesota has only finished with more assists than goals three times. Parise is more of a power forward and not a natural playmaker.
  • Joel Eriksson Ek – Listed as a sniper but only has 27 goals in 216 NHL games.
  • Victor Rask – 22 points over his last two seasons (92 games) and regularly plays in the bottom six not top six.
  • Ryan Hartman – Regularly plays on the fourth line not top nine but not a huge stretch.
  • Cam Talbot – Not elite, hasn’t even been a starting goalie the last two years.

Colorado Avalanche

  • Erik Johnson – Above average defensively but not elite and doesn’t offer much offensively.
  • Brandon Saad – Career high for points in a season is 53, which I don’t think qualifies as elite.
  • Valeri Nichushkin – Once went a full season (57 games played) without recording a goal. Furthermore, his career high is 14 goals back in 2013-2014. Not a sniper.
  • Matt Calvert – 10 year veteran’s career high in goals is 13. Not a sniper.
  • Kiefer Sherwood – A career minor leaguer thus far. Not top nine.

St. Louis Blues

  • Jaden Schwartz – Gifted offensively but his career high in points is only 63. Not elite.
  • Justin Faulk – Consistently good earlier in his career in Carolina but hasn’t transitioned his game since arriving in St. Louis. Not elite.
  • Sammy Blais – 11 assists in 85 NHL games. Not a playmaker.
  • Alexander Steen – Retired shortly before the season started.
  • Jordan Binnington – Stanley Cup Champion and huge reason St. Louis won the Stanley Cup two years ago. Not a fringe starter.
  • Ville Husso – Currently has a goals against average over 7 for his career (just two games), but still not a starter.

Arizona Coyotes

  • Darcy Kuemper – Has been one of the best goalies in the NHL over the last three seasons. Much more than a fringe starter.
  • Adin Hill – Just 30 games over three seasons but not impressive stats. Not a starter.
  • Drake Caggiula – Undrafted and only has registered double digit goals once during his career. Not a top six forward.
  • Marian Hossa – No longer active.

Los Angeles Kings

  • Jonathan Quick – Now 35 and had losing records the last two seasons. No longer an elite goaltender.
  • Jeff Carter – Over the last three seasons, 35 points is Carter’s highest output. At 36 years of age, he is no longer elite.
  • Trevor Moore – 12 assists in 73 NHL games. Not a playmaker.

Anaheim Ducks

  • Ryan Getzlaf – 36 years of age now and hasn’t topped 50 points in three seasons. No longer elite.
  • Hampus Lindholm – An above average defender but definitely not elite.
  • Ryan Kesler – No longer an active NHL player.
  • Ryan Miller – He’s 40 now and clearly not an NHL starter anymore.
  • Anthony Stolarz – Career high of 10 starts in a season. Not a starter.

San Jose Sharks

  • Devan Dubnyk – No longer an elite goaltender.
  • Martin Jones – Probably has never been an elite goaltender.
  • Marc-Edouard Vlasic – 33 now and above average but not elite.
  • Marcus Sorensen – 31 goals in 203 NHL games. Not a sniper.
  • Patrick Marleau – 26 goals in his last 148 NHL games. No longer a sniper.
  • Rudolfs Balcers – 6 goals in 51 NHL games. Not a sniper.

Discover Central Division

Tampa Bay Lightning

  • Ryan McDonagh – A very good and reliable defenseman but not in the elite category.
  • Tyler Johnson – Not an elite forward. More so a top nine.
  • Patrick Maroon – Not a top nine forward. Regularly relegated to fourth line minutes.
  • Marian Gaborik – No longer an active NHL player.

Florida Panthers

  • Alexander Wennberg – A career high of 59 points back in 2016-2017. Not an elite forward.
  • Samuel Montembeault – Still young but a career backup with a career save percentage under .900. More of a backup and not a fringe starter.
  • Chris Driedger – 26-year-old goalie and only 16 NHL games under his belt. More of a backup and not a fringe starter.

Carolina Hurricanes

  • Brady Skjei – A career high in points of 39 and a career plus/minus rating of minus 31. Not an elite defenseman.
  • Jordan Staal – Has failed to reach 30 points in each of the last two seasons. No longer a top six forward.
  • Nino Niederreiter – Has only amassed 34 goals over the past three seasons. Not a sniper.
  • Jesper Fast – 55 goals in 425 NHL games. Not even remotely close to being a sniper.
  • James Reimer – Has not started 30 games in either of the last two seasons. Not starting caliber goalie.

Nashville Predators

  • Matt Duchene – Coming off of a 42 point season. Not elite numbers.
  • Ryan Johansen – Has never lived up to his potential and coming off of a 36 point season. Not an elite forward.
  • Mikael Granlund – Has only topped the 20 goal mark twice in his eight NHL seasons. Not an elite forward.
  • Calle Jarnkrok – Has never scored 20 goals in his seven year career. Not even remotely close to being a sniper.
  • Rocco Grimaldi – Was able to score a good amount of goals at the AHL level, but is now an NHL regular and hasn’t lit the lamp at same rate. Not a sniper.
  • Pekka Rinne – He’s now 38 and no longer an elite NHL goaltender.

Detroit Red Wings

  • Bobby Ryan – Over the last four seasons, 15 goals is Ryan’s high. Not a sniper.
  • Darren Helm – Regularly relegated to fourth line minutes. Not top nine forward.
  • Frans Nielsen – Regularly relegated to fourth line minutes. Not top nine forward.
  • Michael Rasmussen – 8 goals in 66 NHL games. Not a sniper.
  • Adam Erne – 32 points in 172 NHL games. Not a top six forward.
  • Henrik Zetterberg – No longer an active NHL player.
  • Calvin Pickard – A career minor league goaltender. Not an NHL fringe starter.

Columbus Blue Jackets

  • Gustav Nyquist – A very consistent and reliable forward but not in the elite category.
  • Mikko Koivu – He’s 37 now and regularly playing in the bottom six not the top six.
  • Mikhail Grigorenko – 23 goals in 223 NHL games. Not a sniper
  • Nathan Gerbe – 7 goals over his last 79 NHL games. Not a sniper

Chicago Blackhawks

  • Zack Smith – Regularly relegated to fourth line minutes, so not top nine.
  • Alexander Nylander – Hasn’t lived up to his potential. Still young but not even close to elite.
  • Malcolm Subban – A career backup goaltender with unimpressive numbers. Not an NHL starting goalie.

Dallas Stars

  • Alexander Radulov – Consistent but not of elite status.
  • Jamie Benn – Very good but two bad years in a row. No longer an elite forward.
  • Joe Pavelski – Consistent but probably not elite at this stage of his career.

What type of errors or incorrect information stood out to you? Did you notice anything I didn’t touch on here in part one?


Leave a Reply

  1. Good write up Chase. I’ve taken a break from roster editing (and from the whole game, actually). I’ll do my rosters again if roster sharing ever becomes a thing.
    EA has always been hesitant to lower the ratings of aging stars. It contributes to the log jam of players rated relatively the same thing.
    And I agree, so many of the questionable player types are due to a lack of attention to detail. It’s not hard, really. Look at stats first, and then scouting reports. You are never going to please everyone with your ratings (especially the homers who want all their team’s players rated 99’s). If you base your ratings largely off of stats, it’s a lot harder to argue.
    Sent from my iPhone using Operation Sports
    In some cases I don’t think it’s the player type or potential that’s the problem, it’s just the ratings themselves.
    Getzlaf, for example, was elite. That was his potential. His age in the game means he won’t grow anymore, but he reached his potential. The problem is he should have stats lowered to show that he has aged and is no longer elite. The game labeling him elite isn’t going to make him go back up to a 90 rating, so I don’t have a problem with it, but he should be like an 83 now.
    With player types, Jesper Fast, as an example, should definitely be a two-way forward or grinder and not a sniper. That ought to impact how his AI behaves on the ice and is more accurate. Bobby Ryan, however, while he may not score the totals to CALL him a sniper, plays like he thinks he’s one so it’s fine to leave his player type as sniper, (to dictate how his AI behaves) but his ratings should reflect that even though he plays like he’s a sniper, he isn’t capable of delivering significant numbers of goals.
    On the flip side, guys like Caggiulla having top six potential is wrong. Never was, never will be. Alex Nylander clearly doesn’t have elite potential anymore. There are cases where the potential and player styles are flat out wrong, but in many cases the issue is much more the individual attributes and overall of the player (which dictates how much ice time the CPU gives them) rather than their actual type. Bobby Ryan being a sniper in behavior style is fine, but he should only have the attribute strength to score in the 10-20 range.
    Right on, Moose. And using your Getzlaf example, EA won't represent or accentuate the skills that make players unique. He's all all about vision, hands, passing, strength. He was never a great skater nor did he have a great shot. That's why he's still effective even after losing a step or two. The guy could still have some really high ratings in OFF AWR, PASS, STR/BAL, etc but be lacking in skating and defense (again, never his strengths). But instead, he gets 85s and 90s all over the place because that's how they do things.
    Kind of embarrassing still having retired or inactive players on these rosters.
    I'm also wondering if they should re-work the player types in this game? I won't pretend to know what new ones should be added, but there seem to be way too many snipers. As a Rangers fan, when Jesper Fast was on the team, he was always labeled as a sniper in this game....he was NEVER sniper. He was a great defensive forward/grinder type, who was on the first PK or went up against the first line, and he was great in that role. NEVER a sniper, though.
    Snipers, in my opinion, need to be rarer. We've been saying it for MANY years; there needs to be more of a skill difference between playing as Ovechkin and a 4th liner other than skating a bit faster and shooting a bit harder. This series has felt very stale this generation, and much of it has to do with its roster construction and how poorly they are implemented year in and year out.

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