John Carlson joins Alex Ovechkin in EA Sports NHL 21 top-10 ratings


With Alex Ovechkin gracing the cover of hockey's most popular video game for the first time since the 2007-2008 season, his overall rating increased for the first time since the 2017-2018 season. 

Sporting a 93 overall, Ovechkin's rating is tied with Sidney Crosby and ranks second in the NHL behind only the sport's undisputed best player in hockey, Connor McDavid at 95. The Edmonton Oilers' star center has a 95 rating. Last year, Ovechkin's 92 ranked fourth, overtaking Stanley Cup champion Nikita Kucherov of the Tampa Bay Lightning, who stays at 92.  

At age 35, Ovechkin scored his 700th career goal, a league-high 48 goals, a career-high five hat tricks, and was as sharp as ever in his 15th NHL season. His 700th goal was historic, as he became only the eighth player in league history to do so. Also, Ovechkin would have reached the 50-goal mark for the ninth time in his career. He'll have to settle for leading the league in scoring for the ninth time in his accomplished career. 

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It was an impressive season from the Great Eight, and he was rewarded with not only the cover but a one-point boost in his overall rating. Seeing his ratings through the years always makes for an interesting graphic. 

Four other Capitals ranked inside the top-50 of this year's game, headlined by defenseman John Carlson's best-ever 91 rating following a career year. Producing the most assists by a defenseman with 60 last season, Carlson's overall rating jumped two points. After finishing second in Norris Trophy voting to Roman Josi, Carlson is ranked as the league's second-best defenseman behind only Victor Hedman. 

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Carlson's teammates Evgeny Kuznetsov (89) and Nicklas Backstrom (88) also made the cut for the top-50 players in this year's game. Kuznetsov also nabbed the game's fifth-best deking ranking thanks to goals like this one. 

Former Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby has initially stayed rated at an 89, good for  the NHL's ninth-best goalie despite some struggles this season before a move to Vancouver in free agency. While it's still unclear what new Capitals goalie Henrik Lundqvist's rating will be once the update comes out, the Caps future answer at the position, Ilya Samsonov, got an 83. 

Midseason acquisitions Ilya Kovalchuk and Brenden Dillon received 83 and 82 ratings, respectively, while T.J. Oshie and Jakub Vrana were the next top-rated players on the team with 85 and 84 scores. 

For reference, the New York Islanders, who bounced the Caps out of the first round of the playoffs, don't have anyone over an 86: Matthew Barzal. Still, they have 14 players rated 80 or higher, showing their depth compared to the Caps' 12 such players.