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Top Features Missing From the EA NHL Series

NHL 19

Top Features Missing From the EA NHL Series

In recent years, EA’s NHL series has formed quite the love-hate relationship with its core fans. It feels common at this point to see the developers add a new feature, just not the feature fans wanted the most. Year after year, the NHL gaming forums and message boards seem to consistently beg and plead for the same things to be added to no avail. Sometimes highly requested features do eventually get added a few years down the line (five-man celebrations I’m talking about you), but the gratification is certainly delayed more times than not.

This article details some of the most prominent and requested features still missing in the NHL series. Yes, of course overall improvements to the visual presentation and gameplay/AI are definitely needed to enhance our gaming experience, but this article will solely focus on missing features. We will dive in and tackle game improvements in a lengthy article at a later date. (Maybe once I can finally get my computer teammate to stay onside.)

1. Roster Sharing

In 2019, it feels off that a major sports title would still be missing this feature. Instead of allowing a community of passionate fans to create rosters and share them with the community, NHL gamers are forced to wait for EA’s monthly or sometimes bi-monthly version of its rosters. This is especially frustrating when the NHL game drops about a month before the regular season even starts, making gamers have to wait to play with their favorite team or favorite rookie who’s not yet included in the launch version. Also, for those who don’t want to invest the time into editing and creating hundreds of players, roster sharing presents the opportunity to play with a classic team (which we will get into later) or a specific legends.

2. GM Connected

GM Connected actually was a feature that did exist at one point. It was first introduced back in NHL 13, and it allowed players to match up against one another in a league setting, complete with the free agency period and a draft. Very shortly after its introduction, the feature was dropped with the teasing that it could reappear sometime down the road. Well, years of requests later, and GM Connected has yet to be reintroduced to the NHL series. GM Connected has been a staple feature in the Madden series during its time on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, and it needs to come back to the NHL series.

3. Story Mode

A few years ago we were first introduced to this feature in the NBA 2K series. Since then, we have seen EA and Sony try their hands at it. For fans of the game who aren’t necessarily crazy about the arcade-ish modes of NHL Threes or Ones, this theatrical mode could be the new feature that grabs their attention. So, with a few years and multiple games now under their belt, it seems like it could be time for EA to explore the possibilities of this mode within the NHL series. As long as the story mode includes partying with “The Great Eight” Alexander Ovechkin in the offseason, count me in.

4. Classic Teams

As briefly mentioned in the roster-sharing section, having the ability to play with classic teams would be a welcomed and pretty wild addition. It’s fun to think about matchups like the rough and tumble Broad Street Bullies going up against the speed and skill of the 1995-1996 Detroit Red Wings (who hold the NHL record for most wins in a single season). You could set up “Sid the Kid” Sidney Crosby and have him go up against “Mr. Hockey” Gordie Howe. Jonathan Toews could take one of his cup winning teams and go up against Mark Messier and one of his cup winning teams. The number of amazing potential matchups makes this feature seem like it could become a fan favorite for sure.

5. A Full All-Star Weekend (Skills Competition & Current Game Format)

This feature could have so much depth to it. First, start with the skills competition. Making this a playable feature in the main menu and also adding it midseason the day before the All-Star Game in franchise mode would be a blast.

  • You could compete in the Hardest Shot against the likes of “Big Z” Zdeno Chara, and try break his NHL record 108.8 mph or simply hit a slap shot that reaches triple digits.
  • You could try your skill in the Accuracy Shooting competition where the purpose of the event is to hit the four targets attached to the four corners of a goal in the fastest time. Former NHL player Daniel Sedin is the current NHL record holder, hitting 4/4 targets in 7.3 seconds. Could you set a new record?
  • You could try to navigate your way in the Puck Control Relay. The purpose of the event is to be fastest skater over the course while also maintaining control of the puck through a series of pylons. There are two races: the first where each team has three skaters in a race against each other, and the second for the best individuals of each conference.
  • The new Save Streak, which made its debut in 2018, would also give you a chance to play goalie. The purpose of this event is for goaltenders to earn points for their division by saving as many pucks as possible against an opposing division’s shooter in NHL shootout fashion. The goaltender with the longest “save streak” and most saves wins the competition. Would you be able to outduel Marc-Andre Fleury’s 14 consecutive saves?

Beyond the Skills Competition, updating the in-game All-Star Game to mirror the NHL’s current format seems like something that would be an obvious update. Doing away with the old East versus West and going to the current All-Star format consisting of four all-star teams, each team representing one of the league’s four divisions. The teams participate in a two-round knockout tournament, with each game being two 10-minute halves in length and played with three skaters on the ice at a time per team.

The Frostbite Engine

It’s also worth mentioning the Frostbite engine remains missing in action for EA’s NHL series. Frostbite is now used by Madden and FIFA, and it seems like if the NHL series wants to get improvements from other games within the company, the leap to Frostbite will need to happen. As of now, producers of the series say they are still evaluating the Frostbite engine. They’re monitoring FIFA and Madden, and learning about the successes and challenges they’ve had to better prepare themselves for implementing the engine down the line.


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  1. Winter Classic/Stadium Series would be great additions to franchise mode. Just create three or four generic stadiums (if licensing is an issue) and work them into the schedule. Authentic coaches (or coaches at all) with distinct systems would also be a nice add.
    I have been disappointed with EA and their NHL series for years now. Nothing about the game compels me anymore, and I wish we had more competition and choices when it comes to hockey video games. The rubber band AI, arcade like pinball gameplay, end to end rushes with no real AI zone setup and play. It's pretty brutal if you ask me.  I don't  even think the frostbite engine will make any difference.  I won't be buying anymore EA NHL games going forward. I've had enough!
    My biggest beef with NHL 19 is the controls. I have NHL 15 and the controls for that game are what I'm used to. I think they're great. But then I sampled NHL 19  and the controls were so complicated that I couldn't learn to used to them even after doing the training things.  So I had to dumb it down to he hybrid controls and they're not nearly as much fun to play with as the NHL 15 controls. The only other option was the basic NHL 94 2 button controls. Just think sometimes less is more.
    I have been disappointed with EA and their NHL series for years now. Nothing about the game compels me anymore, and I wish we had more competition and choices when it comes to hockey video games. The rubber band AI, arcade like pinball gameplay, end to end rushes with no real AI zone setup and play. It's pretty brutal if you ask me.* I don't* even think the frostbite engine will make any difference.* I won't be buying anymore EA NHL games going forward. I've had enough!

    It's becoming this way for many of us around here in the NHL forums. I haven't touched NHL in a couple of weeks and when I do play a franchise game, it's one and done. Guess I'll have to go the text route with something like FHM 5.
    I'm just happy I'm finally enjoying a Madden football game. At least I have a console sports fix.
    Coaches and winter classic would get me to buy it again. Tired of not having real coaches in there since every sports game has it. Plus frostbite would be a good indication of showing off the winter classic
    Better presentation (ala NBA 2k19 and MLB the Show), and custom music would bring me back.
    I bought every year from the original PC game to 2017. I haven't missed it these past two years after being repeatedly frustrated.
    I would love to see the All star game come back into the series.
    There are many imperfections to this game, & missing features that I have learned to look past, but this has always been something I have wanted back since it was scrapped.
    Even if they were just to inject the 3 on 3 games without the skills competitions I would be fine with that. JUST GIVE US SOMETHING!
    I'd even like the option during Franchise mode creation, to choose between 3-on-3 format and the classic 5-on-5 East-vs-West format.
    I'd almost choose the latter over the new format any day.
    Please no more story modes, put storylines in franchise if anything. I'm guessing I'm alone in not being sold by frostbite. It's a FPS engine Ignite is specifically for sports games. I can't see how it benefits Madden these past two years outside of more equipment and prettier visuals. 
    - Custom Music. Just bring it back already, MLB The Show shows how it works. This feature would add so much to authenticity.
    - Roster sharing. Enough said.
    - A team creator/editor like NBA 2K has. Let us create jerseys and center ice layouts for existing teams. Let us import logos, ice and board ads. It would also be cool if we could place the arena name on the ice for created teams.
    - International tournaments. WCH, World Championships, WJC, Olympics (haha), just give us something, please.
    - Canadian broadcast. Would be nice if we could switch between NBC and TSN/CBC/SN, depending on playing with american or canadian teams.
    That list is good but story mode is a waste. If I had my way it would be as follows;
    1) Roster Share no brainer
    2) Custom music and Goal Horns. Had them in NHL 14
    3) Better teammate AI is a must.
    4) Correct long overdue issues like a forward playing defense on the PK because your defenseman for that line is in the box but you still have 5 other defenseman available. Wingers taking faceoffs when you have a center out there. CPU using its timeout. Etc, etc..
    5) upgrade the commentary and presentation is a must. Scoring a late go ahead goal in Game 7 of the Cup looks, sounds, and feels the same as scoring the 6th goal of a blowout in game 7 of your season.
    6) custom goalie masks even if it’s using pre designed templates. Better updates and color selection to goalie gear.
    I don't give a fig about story mode or anything with online gaming.  I want better (more immersive) franchise experience.  Player cards with full stats, teams played for, awards won, cups won, etc.  A robust player search feature.  More difference in how the players play on the ice (relative to their ratings).  Ability to change eras would be nice (I miss the wider open play of the 1990's, complete with more fighting).  Board play, while realistic, is just not fun - I'd love an option to turn it off.  I do agree about the need for roster sharing.  
    This article is exactly right it is a love hate relationship the love comes from our love of the sport of video game hockey. The hate comes from the only way to play video game hockey is this title without no real competition. I do think the gameplay is getting much better however no real immersion for us offliners. It is unfortunate that core fans do not get any recognition for being loyal to the series however what do we do? Some boycott of course I buy it every year and try to find a way to play that satisfies that hockey itch hoping that one day they will erase a few of these modes and come with a more immersion experience. It appears hut and the extra money that it generates is standing in the way and it does not look like this is stopping anytime soon but we wait......
    I think gameplay is solid as well. Not a story mode guy myself either. But I'd like to see:
    * Frostbite Engine use
    * Real Coaches
    * Custom music return
    * All Star weekend (this should not be missing from ANY sports title)
    * Winter Classic
    * Intermission Report (ala NHL 2K but better)
    * TSN presentation for Canadian games
    Im am strictly offline Franchise and BAP player.
    Here is my small lisdongt of things that would improve the NHL series
    1. BLOOD - EA motto even says "If its in the game, its in the game" Well blood isn't and don't give me this rating BS we all know parenting has fallen way short and if they buy their 7 yr old GTA5 they have no issue purchasing NHL with blood in it.
    2. More Realistic injuries(IN GAME) and CAREER ending Injuries - If a player is hurt in the 1st but its minor let the player or me make the decision to play or sit. How can i know at the end of a game that a player will return on January 5th, yet i check the injury list and it says pending.. That makes no sense.
    3. CPU Player Grievances - This is a HUGE part of the game.. I want guys to complain they are not getting ice time. I want players to demand trades. The current moral system sucks and is easy to control..
    4. Trade Deadline Day - Hour by hour like it used to be..
    5. Free Agency - Top Players don't wait 5 days to sign. Minor but still needs fixing.
    6. TV Style Reporting - This would make the presentation much better than reading about the highlights on the message board.
    7. All Star game and winter Classic - again would improve the presentation.
    8. DRAFT - RD 1 draft coverage of all the picks in the 1st round - cut scenes special reports on trades. presentation, presentation, presentation!!
    I don't care about the engine because in a year there will be another new engine and it will change anyway.
    9. Presentation... did i mention that... Yeah it needs love..
    10. - Roster Sharing
    thats my list.
    I think part of the reason Be a Pro gets no love, is that it's an emotionless slog.  Play game, play game, rinse, repeat.  There's just no "there" there.  The other players are just interchangeable names, and all the off-ice characters are literally wallpaper.
    EA did try to add something extra in Live the Life, but it didn't quite work as it should have, and it wasn't ported over to the current generation of consoles.  It is a pitiful state of affairs indeed, when the most feature-rich version of the mode was done half a decade and an entire hardware generation ago.
    What's needed, is better world building.  No, you don't need it to be The Sims, but you DO need users to have an attachment to their characters.  And as things stand, with very little by way of user character customization, negligible mode-specific content, and an utter lack of NPC development, the chances for user attachment are slim to none.  And Slim just got helped off the ice after blocking an Alex Ovechkin slap shot.
    The deliverable in gaming, is EMOTION.  And when the most common emotion a mode evokes is boredom, it is a design failure.
    I barely follow Formula One in real life, but Codemasters' F1 career mode is INCREDIBLY addictive.   Road To the Show has been raising the bar for years.  Role-playing conventions, industry-wide, are generally well-established.  It's not like they don't know what works. 
    And yet, after years of users begging EA to, at the very least, put back some of the stuff that's been removed over the years (3 Stars, GM Connected, custom music, etc.), what we've gotten instead, is multiple variations on the theme of, "Look!  Squirrel!"
     Rammer needs to go.  Given his utter indifference to his customers' pleas, I think he'd make a very effective back-bench MP.
    I think gameplay is solid as well. Not a story mode guy myself either. But I'd like to see:
    * Frostbite Engine use
    * Real Coaches
    * Custom music return
    * All Star weekend (this should not be missing from ANY sports title)
    * Winter Classic
    * Intermission Report (ala NHL 2K but better)
    * TSN presentation for Canadian games

    Definitely the All Star weekend and Winter Classic. For the All Star weekend, I would like to see the 3v3 tournament ability. We have it now, but it's very arcade and limited on players and line changes. Even include it in exhibition or give us a season mode option.
    They could have the CPU option to select players based on performance in the season.
    First off:
    NHL 19 is a good game, despite some of the glaring errors it has (im looking at you, Be a Pro).
    What I think is the missing features:
    * a full customization suite
    - Create a goalie mask, create a team, create logo (the new logo options are either not good enough or just plain silly at this point), create an arena, create player, create draft classes(with pictures EA, no more black silouettes, its 2019!), create offensive and defensive tactics, create uniforms for all NHL teams (to add more variation to all NHL teams and add winter classic patches and similar patches to specific events): All of these need to either be added or given an overhaul. This is for us who like the design and creaton parts - but also make easy generated solutions for those who just want to make a basic create a team to add to their franchises.
    * roster sharing
    - no need for elaboration
    * Winter classic/stadium series fully intertwined in the game (that means franchise and be a pro too EA)
    -Winter classic patches for ALL teams. When your team is picked for stadium series and/or Winter classic give the players option to pick which jersey to use (or make a new one for this event). mke it a cool and different milestone in BAP and Franchise as well as play now. Add some of the stadiums from the past and make it happen!
    * A Better Be a Pro.
    -Start in the WHL/QMHL/OHL/ECHL/AHL with a prospect (boy or girl) and play your way up. Decide if this is a superstar or someone who has to move up through the ranks of other leagues before being drafted in the big leagues. Build a storyline as you go along. Let the players have choices and options. Let us play the games, but give the BAP some extra vested interest. is he/she a goalie or a defenseman? how does he/she play? Have som faux local news and/ social media to create interest. Is he/she an enforcer in the minors? does he/she get interest from bigger teams? Let the player get contracts to play in Allsvenskan or in SHL, DEL during their career. Dont force players to play all the games of a year if they dont want to. But motivate us to play rivalries, playoffs and similar games.
    Give us more control over stats and where we want to put them. Remove the terrible training system make a better one. And please: Make BAP goalie a real thing. right now it is terrible.
    *Better and more commentary that responds to franchise and BAP choices. Minor league commentaries should be more rowdy a different set of commentaries all together.
    *Half time show and reports from around the league you are playing in.
    * Be a coach: Let us play a coach (make one like in MAdden?) and play his careeer through different leagues. Do you start your career with Newfoundland Growlers or Red Deer Rebels - trying to make them a powerhouse in their league? After a season you get options to coach elsewhere. Maybe Laval Rocket and the Tuscon Roadrunners want a new coach in AHL - in Finland Jukurit seem to need one for a few years.. Take the teams to playoffs. Take them to the Champions hockey league. Maybe you make a few heads turn and you might find yourself heading a team in the NHL, maybe even a completely new one in Seattle? This should be an option to ye olde franchise mode, not something that should remove franchise.
    * All star weekend
    -As others have pointed at: It would be a nice addition!
    * A Longshot mode
    -I hate everything about this idea. A story that you must buy a new game every year to follow is a terrible and nasty way of making this. At best, do what 2k does with their storylines. But please: just stay the heck away from this. Make career and player modes immersive, but look for inspiration elsewhere than longshot or that terrible fifa mode. Be a pro deserves better!
    * Frostbite
    -I dislike this idea of adding a new graphical engine to EA's NHL games: Mainly because this engine is made for shooties and not for sports games. Take a look at what frostbite did with Mass Effect Andromeda. I would rather see an Ignite 2.0 engine tbh.
    NHL 19 is a fine game - a little repetetive at times, but the best EA has done for this console generation.
    I think the game could be a lot more with a bigger team invested into it.
    I am worried we will never see any of the improvements above, nor any of those in the original post here on OS. I hope we do see a game that evolves for the better. In what way, I guess we will have to see :-)
    1. Much more player likenesses
    2. Statistics by Team name
    3. A player card with all stats incl. Youth stats, Trades and for whom be traded, current hot or cold streaks, honors and cup rings during career.
    4. To open in calender past games to review game and player stats.
    5. Face scan import from EA website to players with missing real faces.
    6. Real Goalie masks or app creator.
    7. Missing many Jerseys like the beautiful Buffalo from around 2005
    8. Fantasy generator for ratings of existing player in Franchise mode. ( To use this option or not at the beginning of a Franchise )
    9. Negotiation button for Trades. You ask a GM from another Team for a player and he said what he wants from your Team or if this player is for trading or not. This can go moretimes way to and back before trade is finished or declined.
    10. Mire information about Streaks from players during the game. Hot and cold
    11. All drafted players in the game with pics and possible to get in there Team Rosters. I mean also the US and drafted KHL players ( buy the rights from IIHF ) Funny to see what happens when Jack Hughes will selected as number one pick. Usely they post a face scan of number 1 and 2 pick short after they where drafted in Twitter and Facebook.
    12. Add KHL, NCAA to the game. Buy the copyrights.
    13. To play Franchise in all Leagues not only NHL or AHL.
    I’m sorry, but I want almost none of these. Story mode is a waste of resources, nobody played GM connected (and it wasn’t good anyway), roster sharing is hit or miss, and the ASG is cute but unnecessary. 
    The only one of note, in my opinion, would be the introduction of the Frostbite Engine. Even then, we all know that because of the dev team size it would take more than one cycle to implement properly. 
    I’d much prefer they lock down the gameplay and enhance the depth and quality of Franchise. The dev team should outline how they want the game to play and stick to their guns as they work toward that. I feel like each iteration comes out with interesting wrinkles but returns to the same old style every year thanks to tuners.
    As for franchise, that is personally all I play and it somehow always seems to be behind in some area. To me, that’s the story mode - it’s what you do and how you build a team and the player movement. If they could elevate the quality of the mode and then begin introducing some story-like elements, that could be a big draw and kill two birds with one stone. 
    Obviously roster sharing is a must, the inclusion of the Frostbite engine and a deeper immersion factor for Franchise Mode. I would like to to see the 3 Stars of the Week and a news feed similar to Madden that focuses on your team and the rest of the league. It would also be nice to see a roundup of other games around the league during the intermissions too. Madden included a halftime show so to speak. I mean if other EA titles can have this, why can’t NHL start including some of these features? Hopefully the NHL development team takes the community’s advice and starts to take this series seriously. We’ve basically been given the same game for the last few years on the next gen consoles. Unsatisfactory at this stage in my opinion....
    Sent from my iPhone using Operation Sports
    Honestly I don't even know where to start. To not have roster sharing in 2019 is a joke. why'd they take out tournament mode? some of us like playing with countries. Get real jerseys for all countries. Why does usa, russia, sweden still have those awful fake ea jerseys? Get an iihf license and add the khl.. Major improvements are needed if I'm ever going to buy the game again. The game does not feel like hockey. The AI is mentally challenged and the game plays like a pinball machine. Defense never know when to pinch and make the same awful plays over and over. Doc can't say some of the most common last names and he has the same one liners from the last 5 years.
    Story mode.
    Either in single player or/and franchise mode.
    A few more sliders
    Like CPU pass speed (will probably make the game less frenzy)
    All star weekend/winter classic.
    Franchise mode being able to controll all team (myleague 2k type)
    FIFA hasn't had fouls in their game since FIFA 16 (frostbite came on 17) and FIFA 19 has no fouls,so if it's down to frostbite,then no thanks.
    I think NHL 19 can be a dull experience,but gameplay after one season of slider fixing,quite solid
    TBH I am totally over the base game. Feels the same since NHL 08. I basically only use it to build teams in franchise and sim all the games.
    I think one thing that would help is just a bunch of new animations everywhere on the ice. I think I would replace every goalie animation because they all suck.
    Haven't bought NHL since '14. The only thing that will ever bring me back is roster sharing and custom music/goal horns. 31 team control would be nice, too. Until then, I have no use for the game.
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