NHL 22: Trailer, Matthews on cover, release date, and more

EA Sports dropped a bunch of information regarding NHL 22, including a trailer you can watch above.

Let’s begin with the nuts-and-bolts NHL 22 information, then delve into some other aspects.

NHL 22 release date, Matthews on cover, trailer, and more

EA Sports announced that NHL 22 will release on Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Xbox One, and the Xbox Series console on Oct. 15.

After gracing the cover of NHL 20, Auston Matthews returns as the cover athlete for NHL 22. Because it’s the Internet, there were complaints about Matthews being on the cover again. There’s precedent for this, however. Alex Ovechkin has been a cover star more than once, and even did so for both the EA NHL and defunct NHL2K series. (Somehow, hockey fans survived such treason.)

Jonathan Toews donned more than one EA NHL cover, too. (Patrick Kane was going to join him as a two-time cover star, until, uh, he did not.)

Again, you can watch the NHL 22 release trailer in the video above this post’s headline.

NHL 22 first EA NHL game to use ‘Frostbite’ engine

For a specific group of hockey video game fans, the lure of the “Frostbite” engine was real. While FIFA and Madden games used the engine, EA NHL did not.

In the jump to the next-generation of consoles, NHL 22 will be the first game in the series to use that “Frostbite” engine. The trailer gives a taste of what that might look like. That said, what really matters is how it actually plays. (We didn’t really get much of a glimpse of how this all affects the typical overhead camera used for moment-to-moment gameplay.)

So, “Frostbite” was something EA NHL fans were clamoring for. It will be interesting to see if it’s a “Be careful what you wish for” situation.

Back in 2019, Mike Williams of US Gamer detailed some of the problems EA developers encountered with the “Frostbite” engine. The short version: it was something designed mostly for first-person shooter games. When development teams tried to do different things with the engine, they struggled.

Now, the company’s been using Frostbite for a long time, so maybe they ironed out the wrinkles. We’ll see around NHL 22’s Oct. 15 release date (and maybe sooner, via early access and other factors).

Either way, if it’s a bumpy ride, people will make plenty of jokes.

‘Superstar X-factors’ aims to make stars feel like real-life counterparts

One common complaint about EA NHL games is that players feel too “samey.” Aside from player ratings, you rarely felt much of a difference between using Auston Matthews, some other superstar, or a player who is merely average.

NHL 22 claims to make superstars “distinctly feel like their real-life counterparts.” That’s another wait-and-see deal, as the series aimed for such improvements before, only for tweaks to feel subtle at most.

(There’s even a potential drawback if the changes really work. After all, would a superstar in the most skilled hands throw off the balance of competition? Making games = complicated.)

Another bumpy jump to the next generation?

Memorably, the EA NHL series struggled when consoles jumped last generation (for example: Playstation 3 to Playstation 4).

With NHL 14, EA NHL didn’t make the jump. Instead, they waited for NHL 15, a game that was slammed for having missing features.

One wouldn’t expect EA Sports to advertise if NHL 22 will miss any features. Some of that might boil down to just how ambitious this jump to a “next generation” really will be. If you played NHL 21 and other recent iterations, you’ll realize that the games are jam-packed with game modes and features.

Perhaps the changes will be mostly gradual, including … whatever this means:

Uh, alrighty!

Anyway, it’s good to have release date (Oct. 15) and other bits of information about NHL 22. We’ll see if the changes translate to a better, prettier game soon enough.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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    Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

    Ilya Mikheyev
    Bob Frid/USA TODAY Sports
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    VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

    Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

    Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

    Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

    Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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    Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports
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    Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

    The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

    Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

    After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

    Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

    Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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    David Kirouac/USA TODAY Sports
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    MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

    But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

    “I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

    Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

    “I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

    Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

    Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

    Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

    All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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    Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports
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    SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

    Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

    The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

    Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

    Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.