Connor McDavid is NHL 18’s newly announced cover athlete

Connor McDavid, the Edmonton Oilers’ beloved captain and one of the main faces of the National Hockey League’s marketing campaigns, will grace his first video game cover when NHL 18 launches this September. This agreement, which is far from surprising, was confirmed during tonight’s 2017 NHL Awards, where number 97 also received some pretty impressive hardware.

“Representing NHL 18 as the cover athlete is an incredible honor,” said Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers. “I’ve played EA SPORTS NHL every year since I was kid. To appear on the cover, something that has been done previously by so many players that I respect and admire, is very exciting. I can’t wait to play NHL 18.”

Along with Connor McDavid’s celebratory expression and a close-up look at the Oilers’ new adidas home jerseys, NHL 18 will ship with some notable changes and additions:

First up is the Creative Attack system, which lets players pull off special plays and branch said moves together. That is then followed by the complementary Defensive Skill Stick and its improved counter attack, extended poke check and stick sweep mechanics. These implementations will also be used by your teammates’ individual AI, in order to help them leverage the risks and rewards of each situation.

Joining the above will be an Expansion Draft setting that will let us all be the Golden Knights’ GM, as well as a very intriguing 3-on-3 mode called NHL Threes. To us, this is the most exciting addition, because it means that we may end up getting the sequel (well, the spiritual successor) to 3-on-3 NHL Arcade that we’ve been hoping for. That game was incredible fun.

As its press release describes, NHL Threes will offer faster gameplay, bigger hits, over-the-top action and higher scoring matches. That, in addition to couch co-op, team play and a campaign mode in which you’ll compete in a “circuit-style journey” while unlocking rewards for good results.

Three-on-three won’t just be limited to NHL Threes, however, as EA Sports has also announced that 3-on-3 competition is coming to the ever-popular EA Sports Hockey League. Their goal is to make the experience a more strategic and risk-versus-reward based version of the sport through its inclusion.

NHL 18 will bring everything we’ve mentioned, along with some other changes and improvements, to retail on September 15, 2017. The game is now up for pre-order, too, offering two different editions: the Young Stars Edition and the Young Stars Deluxe Edition. The former will offer Connor McDavid themed items, his player card in Hockey Ultimate Team, a jersey he helped design, and 20 gold card packs for the aforementioned mode. Conversely, the Deluxe Edition will include all of the above, plus 20 more Gold Plus Packs for HUT. Most notable, however, is the fact that both versions will feature three days’ worth of early access, although EA Access owners may not care about that given the game’s confirmed ten hour trial via that service.

You can register for the upcoming NHL 18 beta now, if you please.

Now, with all that being said, here’s hoping that we’ll see Auston Matthews on the cover of next year’s installment.