EA Sports today released the demo for their annual NHL game and as usual it looks fantastic. The action, graphics and AI in NHL 13 have come a long way since Cliff Ronning dominated or it was a gimme to score on a wraparound. The actual demo itself covers new features like NHL Moments Live along with the old standby of playing the third period with last year's Stanley Cup finalists, Los Angeles and New Jersey.
If you want to play as Minnesota, however, you'll have to wait until the game drops on September 11. Honestly, there's nothing Wild-related outside of this piece:
There are Tim Horton's in video game Minnesota. And Zach Parise.
At the same time, EA has released player rankings for each team (see Minnesota's below). This year's batch seem to be more accurate than in past year's, which ends up being a good sign that someone is paying attention rather than being forgotten until the last second. Every fanbase believes their players are better than they are but when there's something like James Sheppard being Minnesota's fourth-best forward, things are a little off.
-Parise at 90 is fair coming off of a 31 goal season and captaining the Devils to an Eastern Conference championship. It's equal to former teammate Ilya Kovalchuk, one point above Marian Gaborik and an area that shows the newly-acquired forward is elite yet not in the league of Sidney Crosby (95), Alexander Ovechkin (93) or Steven Stamkos (91).
-Ryan Suter (88) is below Shea Weber (90), which I'm okay with as he has to show he can be the #1 guy in Minnesota. Surprising, however, is seeing Suter above Norris winner Erik Karlsson (86) and Mike Green (85) but being an 88 overall puts him as a top-5 defenseman in NHL 13. If he can be that with the Wild this year, fans will be more than happy.
The only 88 and above blue liners besides Suter are Zdeno Chara (91), Weber, Duncan Keith (90), Dion Phaneuf, Niklas Kronwall and Dan Hamhuis (88)
-Kyle Brodziak at 80 has to be one of the best third-liners in the NHL.
-The two goalies seem to be close to what they should be combined but individually Niklas Backstrom seems high at 87 and Josh Harding seems low at 80.
-There's always one: Erik Christensen is still on the roster despite having signed a deal in Europe.
-Mikko Koivu (86) and Dany Heatley (85) could be interchanged based on their past couple years but both at their best are closer to Parise than Brodziak. The problem, of course, is that injuries have cost Koivu time.
-Speaking of injuries, Pierre-Marc Bouchard at 82 reminds us more than anything how much his play was missed last year.
-Besides Suter, the blue line consists of Tom Gilbert (83) and everyone else. That's not a shot at the defense, which had its moments and disappointments last year, and don't get me wrong, no one thinks the Justin Falks of the world should be pushing 80. I am okay with everyone besides Jared Spurgeon but when the fourth-highest defensemen is a 75, EA Sports is making a point.
-The biggest disappointment for me is not being able to see what some of the prospects like Mikael Granlund and Charlie Coyle are ranked.
You can find the Western and Eastern Conference rankings over at Puck Daddy and instructions to download the NHL 13 demo at EA Sports' website.