It's the middle of Summer, and hockey season is still months away. It's that time in the offseason where so many get so bored while waiting that we can't help but speculate on the future of the sport. To help keep us occupied, many game developers like EA Sports take the time to show off their next sports titles.

Some like to predict who's going to win the Stanley Cup, who's going to be the best in fantasy, and of course, who's going to be the cover athlete of EA Sports' NHL 24.

There's no shortage of talent in the NHL, meaning there's many players who deserve a spot on the next game's cover. But who should get the honor this year? We've compiled a list of five players who are at least deserving to be in the conversation.

For reference: The cover athlete of NHL 23 was Sarah Nurse and Trevor Zegras.

NHL 24 Cover Athlete Predictions

Connor McDavid

Was this any surprise to anyone? The 2015 first overall pick is perhaps one of the greatest players to ever grace the sport of Hockey. The only thing McDavid has yet to earn is the Stanley Cup itself. At just 26 years old, he's still got plenty of time to make it happen. With six All Star Game appearances, five Art Ross Trophy Awards, and the five-time First All-Star Team recipient is constantly showing why he's one of the most elite players in the sport.

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McDavid previously appeared as the cover athlete for NHL 18. We think it's definitely time for him to get back onto the game's cover.

Nathan MacKinnon

MacKinnon, despite winning the Stanley Cup just two seasons ago, has yes to earn a cover spot on an NHL game. The 27-year old centre and team captain has seen both highs and lows with his team, the Colorado Avalanche. He lead the team in points and assists, and helped bring his nation the Gold Medal at the 2015 IIHF World Championship.

While he's yet to appear on an NHL cover, this game could mark his first appearance on one. He just signed an eight year deal back in 2022. His average annual value of $12.6 million is the highest in league history. He followed up his contract extension with a 100 point season in 2022-2023. He's easily the Avalanche's best player and one of the best in the NHL right now.

Leon Draisatl

Connor McDavid may have to compete with teammate Leon Draisatl, who's also one of the best in the league right now. With four All-Star Game appearances in five years, The 27-year old alternate captain has won the Art Ross Trophy, the Hart Memorial Trophy, and the Ted Lindsay award. However, since Edmonton is struggling to win the Stanley Cup, it may affect his chances.

That being said, Draisatl is a very talented player still in his prime. It may take a strong playoff push, an MVP-caliber season, and possibly a Stanley Cup to convince EA Vancouver to make him the cover athlete. That being said, we feel his chances are better than many others in the league.

Cale Makar

It seems Avalanche and Oilers players dominate this list right now, but who can blame us? Makar is one of the best defenceman in the NHL by far who's just as good offensively, if need be. He's earned 200 points in 195, the fastest for any NHL defenceman. Makar also managed to be a Norris Trophy finalist in 2022 despite missing 22 games.

He did face his first ever suspension last season after a controversial late hit against Jared McCann in the playoffs. We don't know if this one incident is enough to remove him from the conversation, and the suspension didn't stop the Avalanche from upsetting the Kraken. However, Makar always displayed good sportsmanship otherwise.

Like MacKinnon, Makar has yet to be on an NHL cover. Perhaps that all changes this year.

David Pastrňák

Finally stepping away from the Avalanche and Oilers is a Boston Bruins Star who just finished his best year with the team. After signing a eight-year, $90 million dollar contract last season, Pastrňák had his best season. He scored 61 goals, 113 points, putting him in the top three for both of those categories.

The Bruins' attempts to win a Stanley Cup fell short after losing to the Florida Panthers in the playoffs last year. But is this enough to deny Pastrňák a spot on the next game's cover? Perhaps, but he should still be in the conversation. He's yet to win his first Stanley Cup, but you don't need to be a Stanley Cup winner to get on the cover of the next EA Sports title.

When Will NHL 24 Come Out?

As of right now there is no confirmed release date for NHL 24. However, we can guess the release date by looking at the previous titles.

In recent history, NHL games typically release shortly after the regular seasons. NHL 23 released on October 11th, 2022, while NHL 22 came out on October 12th of 2021. If that's any indication, it means we can expect the next game to come out around October 11th – October 15th. But this isn't definite, and we should wait until we get word from EA Sports.

While you're waiting for the next NHL Season, check out ClutchPoints' top 5 Hockey Games We Can't Live Without.

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