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Connor McDavid is the NHL 18 cover athlete

Here’s the first trailer

Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

Connor McDavid, the star center for the Edmonton Oilers, will appear on the cover of NHL 18, publisher Electronic Arts announced today.

McDavid, 20, won the Art Ross Trophy as the highest-scoring player in the NHL this past season — his second in the league — with 30 goals and 70 assists for 100 points.

“Representing NHL 18 as the cover athlete is an incredible honor,” said McDavid in a news release. “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.”

EA also revealed the feature set for NHL 18 today. The main new mode, NHL Threes, is an arcade-style take on three-on-three hockey, with faster-paced action and bigger hits in a rink that’s three-fourths the size of a standard one. NHL 18 developer EA Vancouver will once again hold a beta. This year’s beta, which will include NHL Threes as well as online head-to-head action and the EA Sports Hockey League, will go live July 25. Interested parties can sign up now for more details.

With McDavid on the cover, EA Vancouver is focusing on the speed, skill and creativity of the modern NHL. Gameplay enhancements in NHL 18 include a variety of new dekes on offense and more robust analog stick controls on defense. The other way in which the game will represent today’s NHL is by integrating the Vegas Golden Knights, the league’s first new franchise in 17 years, with a major expansion-focused addition to the Franchise mode.

NHL 18 will be released Sept. 15 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. As is becoming common, the game will be available three days early to people who pre-order either of its two special editions: the $79.99 Young Stars Edition or the $99.99 Young Stars Deluxe Edition, both of which come with McDavid-focused content. You can see the cover art with McDavid below.

For much more on NHL 18, watch the gameplay trailer above and read our extensive preview based on an interview with EA Vancouver.

Update (June 22): Pre-orders for NHL 18 are now live. We’ve edited the article to add the prices for the two special editions.

NHL 18 - Connor McDavid cover key art EA Vancouver/Electronic Arts

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