The Stanley Cup may finally be coming back to Canada this season, but not to the city that many will expect. Now that EA Sports has run the annual simulation of the coming season in NHL 19, the result is clear: the Toronto Maple Leafs will be Stanley Cup Champions, ending their fifty-one year drought.
This news follows on the heels of the Leafs being named the odds-makers favorites, as Canadian sports media have highlighted the new acquisitions, roster moves, and key players who could finally give the Leafs their run at the Cup (as they do, admittedly, every season). But this time, Leafs Nation has the EA Sports hockey simulation engine behind them.
That's bad news for fans of the Winnipeg Jets, who many believed would be the team to take home the Cup last season, assuming they could halt the momentum of the runaway Vegas Golden Knights. With no major moves and the young stars only getting better, the Jets remain a Stanley Cup contender. But it won't be their job to bring the Stanley Cup back to Canada since Montreal raised it in 1993, as EA's simulation predicts Toronto will defeat the San Jose Sharks for the honor.
But the Toronto fans may want to check those expectations for now. Based on EA's track record in predicting Stanley Cup winners before the season begins, the odds might actually be stacked in... well, every other Canadian team's favor. Take a look:
Obviously, the method of predicting a Stanley Cup winner is an inexact science - ask any NHL fan, and they'll tell you that every other rating or stat for a player or team could be debated as accurate or wildly skewed. The predictions are made in the spirit of fun and anticipation, not accuracy, and the above list of simulated winners and actual winners is proof. Still, out of more than two dozen teams, the sophisticated simulation of NHL 19 chose Toronto. And that alone is enough to boost Leafs fans' spirits ahead of what promises to be a thrilling season.
Aside from the Stanley Cup champs, the simulation also determined the top award recipients, including the game's third straight prediction that Connor McDavid will take home both the Hart and Art Ross Trophies. More accolades for new Leaf John Tavares, and newly-moved Erik Karlsson are included in the studio's official detail. Have a look:
Big off-season acquisitions played a large role in the NHL® 19 simulation this year. Led by star center John Tavares, this year’s predicted Conn Smythe Trophy winner, the high-octane Maple Leafs dominate the Eastern Conference before defeating the San Jose Sharks in the 2019 Stanley Cup Final, ending a 50-year championship drought for the Original Six franchise.
The EA SPORTS NHL season simulation is conducted annually by artificial intelligence that uses real-life data from each player. Results are determined by the videogame when two teams match up based on player ratings, line combinations, and include variances such as injuries and hot streaks to give a realistic outcome of a game or series.
Some other notable predictions from the season simulation include:
- Following an off-season full of rumors and uncertainty surrounding his future in Ottawa, Erik Karlsson settled down with his new team, leading the Sharks to the Stanley Cup Final and claiming his third James Norris Memorial Trophy, as the league’s best defenseman
- Former NHL® 18 cover athlete Connor McDavid continued to dominate the league, taking home the Hart Memorial Trophy (league MVP) and Art Ross Trophy (scoring champion)
- The Vegas Golden Knights proved to be more than a one-year-wonder, claiming the Presidents Trophy thanks to a league-high 118 points
- Powered by #1 overall pick and Calder Memorial Trophy winner Rasmus Dahlin, the Buffalo Sabres returned to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since the 2010-11 season
NHL 19 is available now for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Source: EA Sports