Before the 2016 NHL season begins, hockey fans can get a taste of the action with NHL 17.
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The latest video game advances an already popular franchise, featuring enjoyable gameplay, a variety of modes and a realistic look that should keep fans excited.
As Brian Mazique of Forbes argued, "From a visual standpoint, NHL continues to be one of the most attractive sports games available."
Of course, one thing that will remain a point of contention in any game is the ratings given out to the players and teams. This year"s version is no exception, with hockey fans likely ready to argue for their favorites and against Sidney Crosby.
Here is an early look at the ratings for the top players and teams around the NHL before the game is released on Tuesday.
|Top Players on NHL 17|
|1||Sidney Crosby||C||Pittsburgh Penguins||95|
|2||Jamie Benn||LW||Dallas Stars||94|
|3||Patrick Kane||RW||Chicago Blackhawks||94|
|4||Drew Doughty||D||Los Angeles Kings||94|
|5||Alex Ovechkin||LW||Washington Capitals||94|
|6||Jonathan Toews||C||Chicago Blackhawks||94|
|7||Shea Weber||D||Montreal Canadiens||94|
|8||Steven Stamkos||C||Tampa Bay Lightning||94|
|9||Carey Price||G||Montreal Canadiens||93|
|10||Anze Kopitar||C||Los Angeles Kings||93|
|11||Vladimir Tarasenko||RW||St. Louis Blues||93|
|12||Duncan Keith||D||Chicago Blackhawks||93|
|13||John Tavares||C||New York Islanders||93|
|14||Evgeni Malkin||C||Pittsburgh Penguins||93|
|15||Ryan Suter||D||Nashville Predators||93|
|16||Jonathan Quick||G||Los Angeles Kings||93|
|17||Erik Karlsson||D||Ottawa Senators||92|
|18||Braden Holtby||G||Washington Capitals||92|
|19||Brent Burns||D||Minnesota Wild||92|
|20||Victor Hedman||D||Tampa Bay Lightning||92|
|21||Tyler Seguin||C||Boston Bruins||92|
|22||Henrik Lundqvist||G||New York Rangers||92|
|23||Joe Pavelski||RW||San Jose Sharks||91|
|24||Ryan Getzlaf||C||Anaheim Ducks||91|
|25||Nicklas Backstrom||C||Washington Capitals||91|
Not everyone will be happy to see Crosby listed as the top player, but he continues to prove himself at a high level.
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After a slow start to the 2015-16 season, he was outstanding down the stretch with 44 points in 33 games after the All-Star break. The year eventually ended with him and the Pittsburgh Penguins lifting the Stanley Cup.
The 29-year-old center recently explained his effort to avoid a performance like the start of last season, per Sports Illustrated:
I won’t rest on my laurels. I just can’t. Winning is special. If last season taught me anything, it was how thin the line is between being “washed up” and lifting the Stanley Cup. I don’t want to struggle like that again. That October to December stretch was awful; the lowest point of my career outside of injury. I’ll put in any amount of work I have to so I don’t have to go through that again.
His effort and offensive play clearly make him the top player in hockey at the moment.
Patrick Kane, Jamie Benn and Alex Ovechkin also represent the top offensive players in the sport and are adequately rated by the game.
Among the forwards who might deserve some more credit, look no further than the San Jose Sharks. Both Joe Pavelski (91) and Joe Thornton (90) are coming off strong years where they finished in the top six of the league in points and helped lead their team to the Stanley Cup Final.
Even though they"re on the wrong side of 30 years old, they each could easily be among the top 10 or 15 players in the sport.
There will likely also be plenty of debate among the best goaltenders listed. Although not a lot of points separate them, Carey Price is listed as the top goalie with a rating of 93, tied with Jonathan Quick (93) and ahead of Braden Holtby (92) and Henrik Lundqvist (92).
Price was outstanding in his last full season, leading the NHL in save percentage and goals-against average in 2014-15, but he missed most of last year with a knee injury. Quick has obviously proved himself in the past, although consistency has been an issue for him.
NHL Network (via NHL.com) listed Holtby as the top goalie in the league and No. 5 player overall in its ratings, although he is helped by playing behind one of the most talented teams in hockey.
Debate is always fun, but there are plenty of question marks around the individual ratings.
|NHL 17 Team Ratings|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||87||91||90|
|Detroit Red Wings||91||93||88|
|Los Angeles Kings||90||91||94|
|New Jersey Devils||87||89||91|
|New York Islanders||90||90||88|
|New York Rangers||90||93||95|
|San Jose Sharks||90||94||83|
|St. Louis Blues||92||91||86|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||93||92||90|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||89||81||85|
The programmers got a lot right, separating the top teams in the league from the rest. However, there are always places to nitpick.
One area for complaint could be the Dallas Stars, who are accurately portrayed as having one of the best offenses in the NHL (92) while also rating highly defensively (90). The latter is a big question mark, though, because it was the defense that held the team back in the postseason a year ago.
As Rob Vollman of ESPN Insider explained, this problem could be an even bigger hindrance next year:
After losing Alex Goligoski and Jason Demers, the defense provides reason for doubt.
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Not to continue praising the Penguins, but they might have a legitimate beef when it comes to the goalie rating. When healthy, Marc-Andre Fleury is solid in net, while 22-year-old Matt Murray was truly the breakout star of the postseason with a 2.08 goals-against average while leading Pittsburgh to the title.