Carolina Hurricanes forward Eric Staal to be on cover of “NHL 08”

The 23-year-old is an avid gamer and follows Alexander Ovechkin on the cover. “I am a huge fan of the NHL franchise and played ‘NHL 07’ fanatically,” Staal said in a statement.

Staal won the Stanley Cup with Carolina last year and was part of the Canadian team that won the IIHF World Hockey Championship in May.

NHL 08 is the 16th version of the EA NHL hockey franchise, and is being developed by the company’s Vancouver studio. It will be released in September.

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Florida Panthers goalie John Vanbiesbrouck was the first player to be featured solely on the cover in 1997. Others who have appeared on the box since include Peter Forsberg, Mario Lemieux, Jarome Iginla, Joe Sakic, Markus Naslund and Vincent Lecavalier.

Dany Heatley was slated for the cover in 2004, but was replaced by Sakic after the car accident that killed teammate Dan Snyder.