Eastside Hockey Manager 2007 offers a wealth of options to the aspiring General Manager as well. You dictate where your scouts go and who they look for. You can specify individual players, the upcoming opponents, or prospects in the upcoming draft. As General Manager, it is even possible to specify what position of player, what age, and to get recommendations if the scout thinks they’re a certain level of quality.
Of course, like real hockey, scouting isn’t perfect. It pays off significantly to scout players repeatedly, as their value may go up and down. You may draft an early 1st-round bust like Alexander Daigle but pick up a 4th-round gem such as Mark Recchi. As painful as this may seem, we’ve found that an attentive human player can usually draft much better than the AI. Of course, the top picks almost always pan out in one form or another, but whether or not they become superstars as projected is never guaranteed. In one game as the Oilers, a defenseman I drafted in the third round ended up winning the Norris Trophy eight years later.
Player growth and development is merely reflected in their attributes, skills and stats. The first two are rated from 1-20, while stats are of course the living examples of their performance on the ice. One area where EHM could improve is to show the physical change in players. You’ll find yourself, for example, drafting 6’5”, 229lb players… who are 17 years old. They never grow, never gain or lose weight, and are remarkably static. We’re not sure if these physical traits have an effect on the game, but it’d be a nice touch of realism to see that scrawny 17-year-old potential superstar fill out his frame. Similarly, you get odd statistics for a player’s size every now and then. You’ll find 5’10”, 170lb centers with high strength, for example.
The game’s AI is very, very good. It is easier to talk about the few points where it makes mistakes, rather than writing up a long list of its strengths. However, for the sake of balance… the AI is really remarkable. It values players very well based on their current ability and potential. It is especially unforgiving in trades that involve draft picks, and it commands a high price for its superstars. When the Anaheim Ducks soured on Scott Niedermayer and had him rated at 4 stars rather than his usual five (or even “UNT”, meaning Untradeable), they still expected nothing less than my two best prospects, a first round pick, and a very good second-line left winger. Ironically enough, this is almost the exact same kind of trade the Edmonton Oilers got in return for Chris Pronger when he demanded out of town in real life. The AI is also better about contracts than it was in EHM 2005, getting into cap trouble less often and being able to get out of it easier. Of course, every now and then, it’s possible to fleece the AI in a trade. I got Jay Bouwmeester for a 2nd-round draft pick and a defenseman of mine the Florida AI had seriously over-rated (sorry, Steve Staios). It is nice, however, that a player on a hot streak or one that benefits from being on a line with a lot of chemistry can be traded for a lot more than he’s worth (or that you think he’s worth).
Where the game’s artificial intelligence fails is in waivers. Surprisingly often, it will give up second- and third-line quality players for nothing simply by putting them on waivers for the player or other AI GMs to pick up. It is weak at offering trades to the player, though there is, if anything, an over-abundance of roster moves. Blockbuster deals are somewhat common though not abusively so, however, major supporting cast players, as well as the older, or the ones with expiring contracts, get moved around with alarming frequency. Michael Peca, Scott Hannan, Eric Brewer, Sergei Fedorov, Pavol Demitra, Lubomir Visnovsky, Brendan Shanahan, Petr Sykora, Robyn Regehr, Martin Biron, Alex Auld, and Martin St. Louis are noteable figures to have moved around a lot in many of my games.