NHL '11 news: GM Mode will feature restricted free agency, offer sheets, qualifying offers


Video games will never be able to truly duplicate what it’s like to be an NHL player or an NHL general manager. Sure, you can make a controller that mimics your movements and simulate the Scouting Combine experience, but human factors are often very difficult to translate.

Still, it’s fun to play general manager even if its a rudimentary version of the real-life job, so every accurate detail is greatly appreciated. An EA Sports programmer wrote today that NHL ’11 will feature restricted free agency after years of treating every player like an unrestricted free agent.

The game’s off-season mode will factor in qualifying offers and offer sheets as well (though I haven’t heard any discussion of the added difficulty level of dealing with Dale Tallon’s fax machine). One simple-yet-unprecedented tweak is that the game will now feature more than the next year’s worth of draft picks.

We now track 6 years of Draft Picks in NHL 11, so the user can offer/trade draft picks in future years (not just ‘this year’s picks) when it comes to completing a deal or an offer sheet. Because of changes to how we’ve done our Rookie Generation engine this year, teams will have a fairly accurate idea of what type of quality of player that can be expected to be received via a pick that is 4 or 5 years out. This is a significant change to our draft pick engine from the past, as before, there was a disconnect between the perceived value of a pick, and the rookie that would be drafted in that position. This year, we have a much stronger correlation between picks and the rookies that will eventually be ‘cashed in’ for them. Generally, even with this extra awareness, you’ll find that CPU teams will not be as anxious to trade for picks several years out.

One of the ways you can “exploit” video game general managers is by trading first round draft picks and lesser players to get stars in deals that would never happen in reality (Daryl Sutter notwithstanding), so any increase in accuracy would also be welcome.

Playing virtual general manager can often be almost as fun as playing the games themselves, so I – for one – am excited about these alterations. Stay tuned for more news on NHL ’11 and other hockey video games going forward.

(H/T to Sean Leahy.)

Good news: Colaiacovo traveling with Sabres

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It was a scary sight.

Carlo Colaiacovo fell to his hands and knees after taking a cross-check to the throat from Predators forward Viktor Arvidsson (above).

Arvidsson received a five-minute major and a game misconduct, while Colaiacovo suffered a dented trachea on the play.

After the game, both Dan Bylsma and Peter Laviolette agreed that there was no malicious intent on Arvidsson’s part.

“I don’t think there was intent there to maliciously cross-check,” Bylsma said. “They kind of lose the puck, turn and his stick is right at that level and delivers a blow. When you look at it, it’s a pretty stiff cross-check to Carlo’s neck.”

“It was tough for Arvidsson,” said Laviolette. “I don’t think he had any bad intentions. He just ran into somebody and the stick got caught a little bit high, but just a tough turn of events.”

The Sabres defenseman left the game and was treated at a nearby hospital, but there is some good news to report.

According to the Buffalo News, Colaiacovo was released from hospital and he was able to travel to Detroit with his teammates.

It’s unclear how long he’ll be out.

Start the Carr: Habs recall another player from the minors

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There’s been a lot of movement between Montreal and Saint John’s lately and that continued on Sunday.

This time, it’s forward Daniel Carr who’ll be getting a stint with the big club.

Carr has no prior NHL experience.

The 24-year-old spent four years at Union College before joining the Canadiens organization as an undrafted free agent.

In his first season as a pro, Carr scored 24 goals (led the team) and 39 points in 76 AHL games with the Hamilton Bulldogs in 2014-15.

This year, Carr has seven goals and 15 points in 20 games.

Montreal is without forwards Torrey Mitchell, Brendan Gallagher and Alexander Semin.

Campbell’s perfect snipe sinks Wings in OT


Brian Campbell doesn’t score as many points as he used to, but he came up with a huge goal against the Red Wings on Sunday afternoon.

With the game tied, 1-1, in overtime, Campbell skated into the slot and beat Petr Mrazek with a perfect wrister to end the game.

It was also a pretty nice passing play between Jussi Jokinen, Jonathan Huberdeau and Campbell.

Dylan Larkin opened the scoring in the second period before Reilly Smith leveled the score with just over five minutes remaining.

The Wings have blown a lead in three straight games.

Detroit was up 2-0 and 3-2 in their last game, against Edmonton, before they finally closed the game out with an overtime goal by Niklas Kronwall.

They weren’t so fortunate against the Bruins on Wednesday, as they lost 3-2 in OT after leading 2-1 with under two minutes remaining in regulation.

This was the first meeting of the season between Detroit and Florida, but they’ll see each other three times between Feb. 4 and Mar. 19.

With Jonathan Bernier sputtering, we’ll meet Garret Sparks

Garett Sparks
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You can’t blame Mike Babcock for siding with the relatively unknown when the other option is Jonathan Bernier, a goalie who’s 0-8-1 so far in 2015-16.

With that in mind, meet Garret Sparks, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ expected starter for Monday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers.

Sparks was a seventh-round pick (190th overall) in 2011, a guy who was off to a great start in the AHL. That much wasn’t lost on Babcock.

Let’s face it, though; this is as much about the Leafs’ other two goalies as it is about Sparks (whose name inspired a very obscure reference in this post’s headline).

In Bernier’s case, there’s an “enough’s enough” feel:

Meanwhile, James Reimer‘s not quite healthy enough to play yet, so the window of opportunity is open for Sparks … a little bit.

Sparks will get a chance to make an impression, even if it’s just a small one.