EA Sports Player Ratings: Horcoff, 82; Nugent-Hopkins 80

I’m afraid it’s that time of year again – the time of year where EA Sports puts out its newest edition of the popular NHL series and fans critique how the players are ranked.

Naturally, none of this matters one iota, but it is late August and I always enjoy glancing at which players are over/under appreciated. The following graphic of the team’s regulars comes via Puck Daddy.

Okay, thoughts:

The Oilers centers are virtually indistinguishable from each other! Horcoff 82, Gagner 81, Nugent-Hopkins 80, and Belanger 78. I think there’s a case to be made for keeping the first three in the same ballpark (Horcoff’s defensive game bumps him up a bit) but in Belanger’s case it looks a lot like not wanting to dump on a veteran too much after one bad year. Of course, EA Sports also manages to duck criticism somewhat by having virtually every decent NHL’er in the game somewhere between 78 and 84, so it only makes sense that everyone is tightly grouped.

No surprises on the wings. The small but vocal contingent of fans who actively dislike Hemsky won’t be happy to see him lumped in so tightly with the kids and I imagine there’s someone out there willing to argue that Ben Eager’s better than a 74, but nothing too crazy here.

On defence is where things get interesting. Whitney 85, (Nick) Schultz 84, Smid 81, Petry/Peckham 77, Potter 76 and Sutton 74. I can see the arguments for Whitney and Schultz, but Smid is done a disservice and someone should probably send a letter of apology to Jeff Petry. He wasn’t leading the team in ice-time down the stretch because he’s the same caliber of player as Theo Peckham. Andy Sutton as the worst of the group is interesting too, and not in a good way.

Nikolai Khabibulin stinks, but the surprise is that Dubnyk isn’t seen as much better, ranked with just an 80 overall. Goaltenders viewed as superior by the game’s planners include Rick DiPietro and Steve Mason. Fun fact – the last time Rick DiPietro posted a save percentage better than 0.900 was 2007-08 (0.902).