Last week saw the release of the highly anticipated NHL 12, EA's latest entry into its award winning NHL series of video games. The game has been met with near unanimous praise and beating up Marc-Andre Fleury with Jimmy Howard has yet to get old. However, for a game series that prides itself on being the most realistic sports simulation game on the market, the stories from its regular season (in its excellent Be A GM mode) never cease to amuse me.
NHL 12 is no different. While NHL 12 has yet to bring me an MVP season from Tomas Tatar like NHL 11 did, 12 has definitely had its fair share of amusing quirks and oddities that only a video game can provide. I have done two full 2012 NHL seasons in Be A GM mode (both as the Red Wings, of course) and you need to brace yourself for what this upcoming season will bring. And with that, follow me after the jump as I try to predict the 2011-2012 NHL season using only storylines encountered in NHL 12.
Before we get started, I would like to point out that I do not believe any of these will happen. Not a single one. But that certainly has not prevented me from thoroughly laughing at these events.
- Mario Lemieux is a much more forgiving Penguins fan than the people of Pittsburgh are. He will trade Sidney Crosby for Jaromir Jagr and Claude Giroux in December. The effects of this trade will echo throughout the season.
- Red Wings stud Brendan Smith will make the team in 2012, but not as a defenseman. No, he will take Tomas Holmstrom's spot in the forward corps and play as the LW on the second line next to Danny Cleary and Valtteri Filppula. Smith has a great rookie campaign, netting 28 goals and 31 assists and bagging himself the Calder Trophy. Jeff, would you be okay with this?
- Having played every single game of the season by the All Star break, Sidney Crosby will have 43 goals already for the Philadelphia Flyers.
- The Red Wings will trade Corey Emmerton to the Jets for a 2nd round pick in next year's draft.
- Due to injuries sustained by our entire third line, we will bring back Mike Modano in February who actually manages to make a significant contribution, playing at close to a point-per-game pace.
- Ian White will don his best Brian Rafalski costume as it takes him 31 games to score his first goal. He does manage 28 assists in that time, though, so all is well.
- Niklas Kronwall will receive 7 game misconducts next season for various infractions, most notably flipping Joe Thornton over the bench at the Joe and tearing his ACL. (This was obviously something I did and NHL 12 did not simulate, but I had to share that one)
- Daniel Sedin will put up numbers the likes of which only Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky have posted. By the end of the season, he will net 95 goals and 99 assists. What of his twin brother Henrik, you ask? The Canucks captain will contribute a further 145 points next season. Yes, the Sedins will put up a combined 339 points next season. And yet, neither will win the Hart Trophy as MVP because...
- Sidney Crosby leads the Flyers to a startling 130 points on the season by posting 186 points and breaking the 100 goal barrier. Not only this, but Crosby's defense is apparently enough to push Ilya Bryzgalov over the hump and win him the Vezina finally.
- On the other side of things, Jagr will be largely forgettable as he plays in just 55 games and nets under 40 points. He retires after the season is over.
- The Jets make the playoffs as the #7 seed, presumably by paying Dustin Byfuglien in Subway sandwiches.
- Johan Franzen will be his usual self. He will hit 40 goals this season, but score less than 5 goals in both February and November. At a certain point, he will go 14 games without a point.
- I do bring bad news: Nicklas Lidstrom will not tie Bobby Orr with his eighth Norris Trophy this year. No, he will lose it to Dustin Byfuglien who manages to drop 50lbs (I kid, we all know he'd probably gain 50lbs, not lose it) and learn to play defense.
- The Sharks-Wild love affair will continue into the season as the Sharks realize they made a mistake trading away Dany Heatley and trade their top youngster, Logan Couture, to the Wild to get him back at the deadline.
- Jonathan Ericsson? Don't expect much from him this year. I ended up sending him to Grand Rapids and he wasn't touched by the other teams in the waiver wire. Jakub Kindl will flourish as our #5 defenseman, however.
- As an odd coincidence, in one of my seasons, Drew Doughty was injured in the preseason and missed the first six weeks of the season. An easter egg from EA to mimic Doughty's holdout?
- There is a good chance the Blackhawks will not makes the playoffs next season.
- Barry Trotz will finally be recognized as the best coach in the league by winning the Adams Award, leading the Predators to the fourth seed in the West and 2nd place in the Central.
- The Red Wings will face off against the Washington Capitals in the Finals (this happened in both seasons, so I am 100% sure that this will happen) and the Wings will win in overtime of Game 7. The Conn Smythe winner will be Jiri Hudler with 16 goals and 15 assists through the playoffs and will presumably give all the condescending Red Wings bloggers the finger as he skates around with the Cup.
- Most realistic rookie expectation is Adam Larsson of the Devils, who will post 25 points and play in 71 games this season.
- Marian Gaborik will only play 48 games this season, but will net 51 points and help the Rangers limp into the playoffs. The Rangers are absolutely devastated by injuries as only four players play more than 65 games and the bottom of the roster is filled almost entirely by call-ups (who play surprisingly well and like to hurt Danny Cleary).
- On a sadder note, we will lose a lot next offseason as Lidstrom, Holmstrom, Todd Bertuzzi, Ty Conklin, and Mike Modano will all retire.
And all of that is what I predict will happen next season, using only NHL 12 as my tool. What about you, Red Wings faithful? What has NHL 12 told you will happen this upcoming season?