Back on Aug. 27, EA Sports released their first official player ratings for NHL 20. According to the EA Sports website, overall attributes take into account individual abilities for both skaters and goalies.
In terms of team ratings, the Devils were given an 89 overall on defense, an 88 overall on offense and an 81 overall rating in goaltending. All in all, this is a pretty fair assessment from the EA Sports developers, and they seem to align with many people around hockey who agree that the Devils’ biggest question mark is in net.
With NHL 20 set to hit the shelves in stores today, let’s take a look at the rest of the rankings and see the top 10 rated New Jersey Devils:
10. Cory Schneider (82 Overall)
No surprise here. Cory Schneider began with an 87 overall rating in NHL 19 and dropped four points to an 83 overall by the end of the season due to injury concerns and his struggles in net. His .903 save percentage and 3.06 goals-against average ranked in the bottom-third of the league among NHL goaltenders last season, despite starting just 23 games. Schneider will look to build off his successful finish to the regular season and a strong showing over the Summer in the IIHF World Championships.
9. Wayne Simmonds (82 Overall)
Simmonds was previously an 86 overall to start NHL 19 and saw significant decreases to most of his attributes, in large part due to his abysmal 2019 season with the Philadelphia Flyers and Nashville Predators. An 82 seems a bit low, but if he can bounce back, stay healthy and find his scoring touch. expect him to be closer to 84 overall by the All-Star break.
8. Jack Hughes (82 Overall)
The rivalry between Hughes and Kaapo Kakko continues, as Hughes was rated one point higher than the New York Rangers’ second-overall pick. An 82 rating makes sense for Hughes, as he owns the second best single-season point totals in USA NTDP history (116 points) behind only NHL 20 cover athlete Auston Matthews (117). Hughes’ 82 overall is the same as Rasmus Dahlin, the first overall pick of the Buffalo Sabres, from NHL 19. Connor McDavid and Matthews were rated 77 overall by EA Sports in their rookie season video games, but the ranking system was a bit different back then.
7. Sami Vatanen (83 Overall)
Up one point from his NHL 19 82 overall rating, Vatanen is entering the final year of his contract and his third year with the Devils. His 83 rating is a bit generous, considering the 28-year-old defenseman is coming off another injury riddled season in which he played just 50 games and recorded a career-low 27 points. Vatanen also figures to see less time on the Devils’ main power-play unit with the emergence of Will Butcher and the addition of Subban.
6. Damon Severson (84 Overall)
This is a bit surprising, considering the 25-year-old defenseman had the exact same rating in NHL 19 to start last season. He posted a career-high 11 goals, matched a career-best 28 assists last season and his strong play earned him a spot on Team Canada in the IIHF World Championships at the end of the Devils’ season. Perhaps the developers are looking for Severson to become a little more responsible defensively before thrusting him into the 85 overall plateau. After all, he was a minus-27 last season, dropping his career +/- rating to minus-87.
5. Will Butcher (84 Overall)
Similar to Severson, Butcher held the same rating in NHL 19 last September. He had a bit of a down season, seeing his point total reduced by 14 points from his strong rookie campaign in 2017-18. If the Devils pair him with Subban, which they absolutely should, and the rest of the Devils’ lineup can stay healthy, Butcher should see his production rates increase, as well as his 84 rating by the All-Star break.
4. Kyle Palmieri (84 Overall)
The New Jersey-native still sits atop the Devils’ depth chart at right wing, and thanks to all the talent and scoring depth general manager Ray Shero brought in over the summer, we might be able to see the trio of Palmieri, Hall and Nico Hischier reunited this season. Grouped together, the trio is one of the most efficient lines in the league, and Palmieri might be able to reach 30 goals as he did in his first season in New Jersey.
3. Nico Hischier (84 Overall)
This comes as a bit of a shocker, and shows that the EA Sports developers aren’t very high on the 20-year-old center. He recorded 47 points in an inconsistent lineup that craved offense on a nightly basis and increased his face-off percentage to 45.24% last season. His body of work deserves a higher rating than an 84, but let’s keep in mind he’s still just a 20-year-old kid.
2. P.K. Subban (88 Overall)
The NHL 19 cover athlete had a down season in 2018-19, dressing in just 63 games and dipping below the 23-minute mark in average ice time for the first time since the 2010-11 season. Though he’s starting to exit his prime, the new Devils defenseman still has elite potential. He was ranked an 89 in NHL 19, but if he can stay healthy, it won’t be long before he’s back in the 89-90 rating discussion.
1. Taylor Hall (89 Overall)
Coming off his MVP season, EA Sports gave the Devils’ star winger a 90 overall rating in NHL 19. He was on a little over a point-per-game pace with 37 points in 33 games before getting hurt and being shut down for the remainder of the season. He’s still an elite player and if he can stay on the ice this season and produce at a steady rate, he will be in the low 90s around mid season.
It’s important to note that Nikita Gusev, who’s yet to log a game in the NHL has not yet been ranked by EA Sports. Based on the original projections of current Devils players, you can expect Gusev to be ranked between 82 and 83 overall, given his body of work and international resume.
All in all, the New Jersey Devils are a very exciting team to play with this year compared to their teams in recent years.
“Do everything you need to do to keep the passion alive and never forget that it is a privilege to do what you love” – Martin Brodeur