NHL 21: Release date, cover, trailer, demo, EA Play, beta, gameplay, features, price, editions, potential delay & more

EA dominate the ice, but will their next title improve on last year’s offering and raise the bar?

Nick Farrell by Nick Farrell
NHL 21 potential cover star Nathan Mackinnon

The NHL is on hold thanks to COVID-19, but lucky for us, NHL 21 isn’t.

EA is looking to continue its dominance over hockey games in 2020 while competing with 2K Games over other sports like American football.

That means we can expect a great game this year.


Let’s go over everything we know so far about NHL 21.

Release Date

PAPI: Auston Matthews led NHL 20’s launch on September 13

EA has released information on its current state and a roadmap for the rest of the year. According to this schedule, NHL 21 is slated for a Q3 launch this year.

EA announced titles NHL release date Q3 2020
THERE’S STILL HOPE- EA currently has NHL 21 slated for Q3 of 2020

This is very welcome news for fans in the face of potential delays or cancellation due to coronavirus.

And with Madden gameplay on display in the Inside Xbox stream, confirming its upcoming release on the Xbox Series X, things are looking great.

Cover Star

Last year’s cover star was the electric forward from the Toronto Maple Leafs, Auston Matthews.

EURO REPPING: Patrik Laine and Elias Pettersson donned the cover in Scandinavia

This upcoming year it is hard to say who will get the nod for the cover.

Keep your eyes on Nathan Mackinnon as the frontrunner. Having never been on the cover before, he has been electric this season and is in with a good chance of making the cover.

READ MORE: Absolutely everything you need to know about Madden 21

One of the common trends EA has done over recent years is to select regional cover stars for certain countries.

As pictured above, Finland’s cover featured Patrik Laine and Swedens’s cover featured Elias Pettersson.

That should continue this year, with notable players such as Germany’s Leon Draisaitl and the Czech Republic’s David Pastrnak looking to get the nod on covers away from the US.

New Gameplay Features

Every year EA Sports aims to implement new and innovative gameplay features that are never before seen.

LEVELING UP: What new features we will see in NHL 20?

Look for new features in the skating, defensive, shooting and A.I departments this year! Perhaps we will see further improvement on the A.I, similar to what Fifa received this year past. More responsive A.I on higher difficulty settings is what fans have been wanting for years now!


There is no official trailer yet, but be sure to bookmark this tab and check back when one releases!

The first trailer last year was the cover star reveal – which was announced on June 20, 2019.

This was followed by the above gameplay trailer on 16 July, 2019.

EA Play to confirm details?

Covid-19 has seen off in-person, physical gaming expos this summer, but that isn’t stopping EA.

ea play confirmed

Taking place on 11 June, the digital version of EA Play is sure to hold some nuggets of info for NHL 21.

Price & Editions

Expect the usual price point of $59.99 USD when NHL 21 release, as well there will be some special editions so keep your eyes peeled.

GIVE ‘EM CHEL: Changes could arrive this year

The NHL series has only ever released on console so expect it to be on the Xbox One and PS4. With the next generation consoles coming, maybe we will see copies available on the Xbox Series X and PS5 when they release!

READ MORE: The top Cloud games coming in 2020

Unfortunately, don’t expect NHL 21 to arrive on either Nintendo Switch or PC.

Be a Pro Mode

NHL’s take on the classic career mode has received a lot of criticism over the last two years. The mode has you create your own player, and then it prompts you to either pick an NHL team or pick one of the countless Junior teams.

OVERHAUL PENDING? NHL 20’s Be a Pro mode needs an improvement

Other than that, it is one of the weaker career modes we have seen in sports titles.

Fans have been begging EA to adjust the mode similar to what 2K Games has done with the NBA franchise. Perhaps, using a different storyline with some dialogue to make you connect to your NHL player more.

Franchise Mode

Franchise mode received the biggest overhaul during NHL 20; EA implemented coaches, dynamic line chemistry, in-depth scouting reports, and conversations between you and the players.

Although NHL 20 introduced an ample amount of new features, some of these should be fine-tuned for the next game.

Having an overall better system in place for the player conversations is a must for fans. Coaches and line chemistry was one of the best features introduced in NHL 20, and fans are hoping EA can propel these additions into some of the best the series has.

Hockey Ultimate Team (HUT)

One of the new features introduced last year was Squad Battles, a take on the classic FIFA game mode. The mode is still on-going and refreshing challengers every day or week.

Going forward to this year’s title, it is hard to say what additions HUT needs. As of now, there are over 400 Hockey collectible players and it would not hurt to see even more additions.

With both FIFA and Madden boasting in-depth and regularly updated Ultimate Team content we expect to see EA lift some ideas from those titles and bring them into NHL 21.


Like any sports game, ratings are one of the core components for each year’s iteration. NHL 21 should offer some upgrades and downgrades to numerous players going into the new game.

Here’s our predictions for the top five players for NHL 21.

  • Connor McDavid
  • Sidney Crosby
  • Alex Ovechkin
  • Nathan Mackinnon
  • Nikita Kucherov

READ MORE: Absolutely everything you need to know about MLB The Show 20


No official news on the demo/beta yet for NHL 21. Last year, everyone was given a chance to check out the new game from July 26-31, so be on the lookout for sometime around then too!

Nick Farrell

Full-time student studying Communications with a minor in Business at the Memorial University. Contact: [email protected]