The concept of player specific chemistries / traits is not a novel idea. The Madden MUT franchise has incorporated player specific ability chemistries that can change the way the player performs on the field. For example, there is a Chemistry called “Never Stumble” and it serves to automatically prevent your running back from falling to the ground while stumbling. Typically, when controlling a player without the never stumble chemistry, you would have to manually use the right stick to keep them on their feet.
The FIFA FUT series has utilized the concept of “Player Traits.” EA has not been as candid with how the Player Traits impact the players performance in FUT. Some traits are more self explanatory than others, such as “avoids weaker foot.” Others, including but not limited to playmaker, finesse shot and power header are less clear on how they impact the card’s performance. Even more specifically, we are not able to view how these traits change the in-game stats. The NHL series should consider a line-based traits system.
The NHL franchise would benefit from including transparent line combination specific traits into HUT. The transparency should include an exact breakdown of how they impact the game. These traits would add a strategic layer to HUT and would allow for more realistic line-matching. It would also mean that having last change could be an advantage if your lines are organized correctly.
A simple way for this to be done would be to give a small boost to the line with the matchup advantage. Here is a hypothetical example of how a line specific trait could be unlocked when different play styles come together on one line:
Shut Down Unit: To activate the shut down unit line trait, you need to pair together a pest and a grinder who both have the two-way player trait. The shut down unit matches up well against danglers and snipers. For a Defensive unit, this could be pairing together two stay-at-home d-men cards.
Even further depth could be added by then creating offensive combinations that nullify or exploit the impact of the shut down unit. For example, having a physical playmaker paired with a dangler or a sniper could nullify the impact of a shut down unit. An additional example would be that a puck-moving d-pair would help to nullify the impact of a shut down unit.
HUT is going in the right direction by overhauling the hitting system. If it works as advertised, body checking will actually be a viable option. This is paired with physical play being tied to endurance, size, angle and speed that the players are travelling. This on its own will encourage the use of different play styles that are utilized in a real life NHL game. Adding line traits as set out above could take roster customization to a whole new level.