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What does NHL 16 think of the Flames?

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EA's annual hockey installment has some very high hopes for the Calgary Flames.

Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

Hey, NHL 16 is out! Sure, it's retailing for around $90, but at least the Flames will be fun this year!

Every since they started rebuilding, the Flames (predictably) received low ratings in every year's NHL game. It felt like betrayal to pick another team just so you could stand a chance against your friends/family members/roommates/random people online.

Play in shame no more! EA thinks very highly of the Flames this year, giving ratings of 89 for offence, 93 for defence (tied with the Sharks, Rangers, and Predators for best), and an 87 in goaltending. We're going to quickly go over the player ratings for the game, and give a bit of opinion on it.

Just a note, these are the rosters that came out of the box. Obviously, some of these guys aren't even with the team anymore, some of these players are on the wrong lines, and some of them aren't even on the right team. This is just what EA defaults to, regardless of real life deployment.

Forwards

Left Wing Centre Right Wing
Johnny Gaudreau 86 Sean Monahan 87 Jiri Hudler 88
Mason Raymond 82 Mikael Backlund 83 Michael Frolik 85
Lance Bouma 83 Matt Stajan 81 Joe Colborne 83
Micheal Ferland 80 Josh Jooris 80 David Jones 82

  • 86 is pretty good, but I would think Johnny Gaudreau would be a bit better than that, considering the ratings his linemates were given. Even more surprising when you consider that he's nearly a decade younger and produced more points than Zach Parise, third best LW in the game.
  • Even EA should know that Mason Raymond should not be on the second line.
  • Despite their surprising rookie seasons, Josh Jooris and Micheal Ferland are given replacement level ratings. Rude.

Defence

Mark Giordano 89 Dougie Hamilton 87
TJ Brodie 86 Dennis Wideman 86
Kris Russell 85 Ladislav Smid 81
  • Giordano is the 11th best defender in the game, which still seems low.
  • Bob Hartley should consider picking up a copy of this game, because this is how his defensive pairings should look. I have a feeling this is not what we will see opening day.
  • Smid got an 81 rating. Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Goalies

Jonas Hiller 85
Karri Ramo 84
  • No complaints here.

Scratches:

Sam Bennett 79
Markus Granlund 79
Brandon Bollig 78
  • Brandon Bollig was originally a 59, but got boosted because of his two playoff goals. That's the only explanation I can muster up to explain why EA thinks he's about the same as Sam Bennett.

Now let's look at the Stockton Heat:

Forwards

Left Wing Centre Right Wing
Emile Poirier 79
Drew Shore 80
Devin Setoguchi 79
Kenny Agostino 74
Paul Byron 76
David Wolf 75
Morgan Klimchuk 70
Bill Arnold 74
Garnet Hathaway 73
Trevor Gillies 68
Mathieu Tousignant 69
Hunter Smith 68
  • Poirier is actually the second highest rated rookie behind Connor McDavid, which is nice.
  • Drew Shore is apparently impressive EA folks, considering that he has a higher rating than Paul Byron, who is actually an established NHL forward.
  • For some reason, I am mad at Byron's rating. I'm mad at a number in a video game. I don't consider it irrational at all.
  • Hunter Smith having the same rating as Gillies seems appropriate and accurate.

Defence

Tyler Wotherspoon 79
Deryk Engelland 80
Patrick Sieloff 71 Nolan Yonkman 75
Ryan Culkin 71 Dustin Stevenson 67
  • That's where Engelland should be on opening day. This kind of makes up for Paul Byron (not really).

Goalies

Joni Ortio 82
Doug Carr 67
  • Also seems right.

Odds and ends

Here are the players that didn't make the cut for Stockton's default lines, but are still on the team:

Austin Carroll 68
Bryce van Brabant 69
Brett Kulak 65
Adam Ollas Mattsson 60
Derek Grant 70
Turner Elson 67

  • All I'm excited for is Mattsson being in the game. That sounds fun.

As for recently drafted prospects, posting their ratings is meaningless. They're given CHL ratings (anywhere from 49-65), so nothing is really reflective of the truth.

Playing the game:

Of course, all of this is meaningless if we don't at least try the players out to see what exactly is the difference between 86 and 87. I went with a classic Oilers-Flames matchup (I won 7-5. I am terrible at video games) to test out the virtual Flames.

  • Just in general, NHL 16 feels way better than NHL 15. The gameplay is smoother, and it feels a bit less arcade-y than previous releases.
  • Micheal Ferland has a five-star physical rating. I don't really know what that means, but he's a human missile on ice. Combined with some decent speed, he was a very fun guy to play with.
  • Turns out an 85 isn't that good for a goaltender. Hiller let in the worst goals possible.
  • Dennis Wideman's slapshot is perfectly replicated. All power, zero accuracy (the other side of this is that I don't know how to shoot properly).
  • I put Paul Byron on the team, which was probably a bad idea considering that EA doesn't think too much of him. He is terrible in this game.
  • The top line scored all seven of those goals, so I recommend using no one else but them.
  • Johnny Hockey is the most fun to play with. He has five star skills in most categories, but it's most obvious in skating skills. He flies around the ice.
  • I tried to block at least 10 shots with Kris Russell, but my timing skills were way off. He slid into the boards a lot.
  • After the Oilers game, I went into roster editing and I made Johnny Gaudreau as tall as possible. That was very fun, and I highly recommend you do this. He gets the puck every time.
  • I also did call up Ollas Mattsson to the Flames. He is predictably terrible.

NHL 16 is a pretty fun game, if you really feel like not buying anything for the rest of the week. Rest assured, the Flames are good again, and you'll definitely have fun playing with them.