Vladimir Tarasenko has had himself quite a year.
In the past 365 days, the 24-year-old St. Louis Blues sniper has scored 40 goals for the first time in his NHL career, led the Blues in points with a career-high 74, added nine goals and 15 points in 20 post-season games and helped St. Louis get to the Western Conference final. Oh, and he also signed an eight-year, $60-million contract in there, too.
As if that wasn’t enough, Tarasenko has earned himself another honor: being the cover athlete of the newest instalment of EA Sports’ NHL franchise. Tarasenko is the second Blue to grace the cover, following Chris Pronger, who was on the cover of NHL 2000.
“It’s an incredible honor to represent my teammates and all the Blues fans around the world on the cover this year,” Tarasenko said. “As a player, it’s a big deal to be fan selected for something like the Cover Vote, and I’m excited to be involved in the game this year.”
Tarasenko was revealed as the winner of EA Sports’ cover vote at Wednesday’s NHL Awards, beating out finalist — and Western Conference final opponent Joe Pavelski — to don the cover of the newest game. En route to winning the cover vote, Tarasenko beat out Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman, Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn and Pavelski fell in the final round.
The cover announcement was almost secondary for fans of the series, though, as the game’s first trailer was also released.
While it’s hard to pick out exactly what’s new about the next iteration of the game, EA put on full display the new celebrations that will be available to fans, including Jaromir Jagr’s salute, P.K. Subban’s one-knee slide and the Dab. There’s also a celebration available to fans who pre-order the game, which will harken back to the days of NHL 94.
The other noticeable change is to netfront battles and defensive play. The team at EA had mentioned tying up opponents, and that’s shown several times throughout the brief trailer. So is the extended stick lift, which is something the team had touched on to help players stick check a player without getting engaged physically.
It appears a new deking system — or at the very least new moves — will also be included. There were a few slick handles from Tarasenko in the trailer that aren’t regularly seen in recent versions of the game.
NHL 17 is slated to release Sept. 13 on Playstation 4 and Xbox One.