The 99s and 100s of the NHL

There’s only one 99 in hockey, but in video game hockey there are several – actually, there are a few 100s, too.

In EA Sports’ NHL series, players are given an overall rating that reflects their skill level, based on the hockey prowess of the real-life player. EA’s sports games come out for the year ahead (NHL ’94 was released in ’93, for example, ahead of the ’93/’94 hockey season), so player ratings are based on the past year’s performance. Before patches and online updates were the norm, player ratings could get out of date pretty quickly. I thought it’d be interesting to look back and see which players lived up to their scores, and which ones maybe didn’t deserve them in the first place.

NHL 94

  • Mario Lemieux takes top spot, as the only player rated 100
  • Ray Bourque is the only 99
  • Ed Belfour is 98
    • Mario Lemieux led the NHL with 160 points in the 1992/93 season and Belfour won the Vezina Trophy, but Bourque was second to Chris Chelios for the James Norris Memorial Trophy. Chelios had 73 points in 84 games, while Bourque scored 82 in 78. Bourque had seven game-winning goals to Chelios’ two.
      • It’s worth noting Tom Barrasso played eight less regular season games than Belfour that year, and won two more.
      • It’s even more worth noting Lemieux was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma that season, and he recorded his 160 points in just 60 games.
      • This was Teemu Selanne’s rookie year, and he set the (current) record for goals in a season by a rookie; he and Alexander Mogilny tied for the overall goal lead that season at 76. But in NHL 94, Selanne is rated 90 to Mogilny’s 96. It may be the greatest injustice of the entire franchise.
    • In 1993/94, Lemieux was dealing with back problems and would play only 22 games. The Great One – who played just 45 games the season before – took back his points-leader crown, recording 38 goals and 92 assists for a total of 130. Dominik Hasek won the Vezina, while Belfour didn’t even crack the top 10 in save percentage (though it was identical to what he had the year before). Bourque scored more points than in his ’92/’93 year, and won the Norris.

NHL 95

  • Sergei Fedorov gets the highest rating, at 99.
  • Belfour is, again, 98.
    • Tough to figure Belfour out, considering his ’93/’94 year was worse than his ’92/’93. He had fewer wins and was seventh in the Vezina standings. Fedorov scored 120 points, and won MVP, MOP, and the top defensive forward award.
      • This game was the first in the series to have trading. Fedorov was a beast.
    • ’94/’95 was a lockout year. Fedorov scored 50 points in 48 games, 20 shy of Eric Lindros. Belfour was fourth in GAA, third in minutes played, and tied for first in shutouts.
      • Apparently the SNES version of NHL 95 had different player stats. That’s… odd.

NHL 97

  • 100 – Lindros, Ron Hextall, Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr
  • 99/100 – Fedorov
  • 99 – Bourque
    • After taking a year off for health reasons, Lemieux returned to the NHL for the ’95/’96 season and picked up right where he left off, scoring 161 points in 70 games and winning the Hart trophy. Lindros was ninth in goals that year, ninth in assists, and sixth in points; Jagr, Joe Sakic, Ron Francis, and Peter Forsberg outscored him. Colorado won the Cup that year, and Sakic was named MVP of the playoffs, but NHL 97 gives him a 94.
      • EA started handing out 100s a little more liberally in this one. Honestly, I would’ve skipped over this year but Ron Hextall stood out – like, Hextall, really? Turns out he was tied with Chris Osgood for first in GAA that year at 2.17. Philly also placed first in the east during the regular season.
      • According to Myke’s walkthrough on gamefaqs.gamespot.com, Fedorov is listed as 99 on the Red Wings and 100 on the Western All-Stars.
    • In ’96/’97, Lemieux was, again, points leader. I think it’s safe to say his 100s are warranted. Keith Tkachuk was the goals leader, and Wayne Gretzky – two years shy of retirement – played all 82 games and notched 72 assists (it was Gretzky’s first season with the Rangers, and the only one with them in which he had a positive plus/minus). Hextall still put up 31 wins, but his save percentage was a dismal .897. It was also a golden age for goalies, with Patrick Roy, Hasek, and Martin Brodeur all having stellar seasons. Bourque had a -11 over 62 games (the first time in his professional career he recorded a negative plus/minus; it would happen three more times).

NHL 2000

  • Jagr, Paul Kariya, Selanne, Hasek
  • 99 – Forsberg, John LeClair, Sakic, Brodeur
    • Jagr, Selanne, and Kariya ranked 1, 2, and 3 in points scored during the ’98/’99 season, though Jagr was 20 points clear of the pack. Selanne led in goals, Jagr in assists. Kariya took 86 more shots than anyone else in the league. Interestingly, the NHL 2000 100 Club is made up exclusively of players who scored 100+ points in ’98/’99; Forsberg and Sakic came close.
      • Al MacInnis is the highest rated defenseman, at 97. In ’98/’99, at age 35, he had 200 more minutes on the ice than he’d ever had before, and won the Norris.
    • EA decided no defensemen were 100-worthy, and, in ’99/2000, Chris Pronger made them pay. Pronger won the Hart and the Norris, and was +52. His Blues won 51 games that year – the most in the league – but were knocked out of the playoffs in the first round by San Jose. Jagr was the regular season points leader, with Kariya and Selanne placing fourth and fifth respectively. Brodeur had 43 wins and six shutouts in the regular season, and won the Cup that year, while Hasek was one of three goalies to post a .919 save percentage.
      • Belfour also had one of the best save percentages in ’99/2000 at .919. He’s rated 97 in this game, and had a save percentage of .906 when rated 98 in NHL 94.
      • Pavel Bure scored 58 goals for the Florida Panthers in ’99/2000, 14 of them game-winners. He’s rated 96.

goodshot

As far as I can tell, NHL 2000 is the last game to feature any ratings of 99 and 100. In NHL 2001, Jagr is rated 98. Olaf Kolzig, Roy, and Pronger are 97. Hasek is the highest ranked player in NHL 2002, at a mere 96. In NHL 2003, EA dishes out more 98s – to Sakic, Roy, Nicklas Lidstrom, and Jose Theodore – but that’s as high as it gets.

NHL 15

  • Sidney Crosby is the highest rated player at 96
  • Tied for second at 93 are Jonathan Toews, Steven Stamkos, Shea Weber, Alexander Ovechkin, Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Lundqvist, and Jonathan Quick
    • In the 2013/14 hockey season, Crosby won the Hart, the Ted Lindsay Award, and the Art Ross Trophy. There are two goalies in the 93s list, but neither of them are Semyon Varlamov, who had more wins than any other netminder that year, more saves, and was runner-up for the Vezina. Tuukka Rask had also had three straight years of a GAA of 2.05 or less. Weber was a -2 this year.
    • Carey Price had his best season in 2014/15. He won 44 of 66 games, with a save percentage of .933 and a GAA of 1.96. Jamie Benn was the points leader, followed by John Tavares. Weber would end this year +15, but arguably wasn’t even Nashville’s most valuable d-man, considering Roman Josi played more games, averaged more time on the ice, and put up more points.
      • Crosby remains king in NHL 16 and 17, as well, but in NHL 18 he shares the mantle with Connor McDavid, with both players rated at 93.

NHL 19

  • McDavid is number one, rated 94
  • Crosby is 93
  • Ovechkin is 92
    • McDavid plays on an awful hockey team but is the undisputed best player in the world, and will be for years to come. We don’t even need to look at the stats; watch him play; he’s the best. Ovechkin, who finally won his Cup in ’17/’18, and did it with fiery determination (followed by boozy celebration), should not be rated lower than Crosby here.
      • Oh, you wanted to see the stats? Okay. McDavid has been points leader for two years running (100, 108).
    • We’re more than halfway into the ’18/’19 season and nevermind Ovechkin (who continues to light it up), it’s Nikita Kucherov who EA has slighted! Kucherov’s already got 81 points this year, but is rated 91 in the game (92 since an update). Kucherov was also a 100-point player in ’17/’18.
      • Detroit’s highest player rating is 84. That checks out.

Sidney Crosby may have multiple Stanley Cups, Olympic gold medals, and a charming smile, but he’s never been a 99. John LeClair will always have that over him.

Will EA ever give another perfect or near-perfect score to a professional hockey player? Should they? Who deserves it? You, the viewer, decide!

Sources:

Hockey Reference – https://www.hockey-reference.com/

Giant Bomb NHL 94 game Wiki – https://www.giantbomb.com/nhl-94/3030-20166/

Giant Bomb NHL 98 game Wiki – https://www.giantbomb.com/nhl-98/3030-18845/

Segathon – NHL 95 Teams – https://www.segathon.com/nhl-95-teams/

GameFAQs – NHL 96 FAQ for Super Nintendo by Muff – https://gamefaqs.gamespot.com/snes/588526-nhl-96/faqs/37725

GameFAQs – NHL 97 FAQ for Super Nintendo by Myke – https://gamefaqs.gamespot.com/snes/588527-nhl-97/faqs/60797

GameFAQs – NHL 98 FAQ for Saturn by Frankie_Spankie – https://gamefaqs.gamespot.com/saturn/574736-nhl-98/faqs/38288

GameFAQs – NHL 2002 FAQ for PC by mighty mosquito – https://gamefaqs.gamespot.com/pc/516700-nhl-2002/faqs/18877

NHL 2000 Roster List by TripleJump on IGN – https://ca.ign.com/faqs/2008/nhl-2000-player-roster-868325

NHL 2003 – Hockey FAQ Guide by Myke on IGN – https://ca.ign.com/faqs/2002/nhl-2003-hockey-faq-374573

NHL 2001 Sim League forum – NHL 2001 Player Ratings by Detroit Red Wings GM/Simmer/PR Administrator – http://nhl2001sim.proboards.com/thread/49/nhl-2001-player-ratings

EA Sports – https://www.easports.com/

HeroTheyCallMe’s YouTube – NHL 2004 Rosters – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ickEc326xCs

Jake Jangles’ YouTube – NHL 12 Overall player Stats – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vtuittt-KyA

Pastapadre – Team and top overall player ratings in NHL 08 – https://www.pastapadre.com/2007/09/09/team-and-top-overall-player-ratings-in-nhl-08

Post by TNG in the NHL 07 – Rosters & Ratings thread on Hockey Fights – https://www.hockeyfights.com/forums/f36/nhl-07-rosters-ratings-59399

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