I say this without the experience of actually watching him play in games. How do I know this, so irrefutably?
Because damn if the guy isn't the closest digital equivalent to Bobby Orr in hockey video games - whether its the 2K series or the EA Sports ones. This fact is made all the more glaring since there really aren't any true threats to his polygonal skating throne (the closest competition would probably be Sergei Gonchar, Sergei Zubov or former Rudy Kelly lover Luber Visnovsky).
So, it is to my great game playing excitement that most hockey pundits are labeling Bow-monster the next Brian Campbell.
Can you imagine what his unparalleled digi-speed and agility could do on a team that, you know, someone would voluntarily watch on TV? What his almost-Afinogenov-like skating would do for a team like Anaheim* or Pittsburgh* or Detroit* or Ottawa*?
At a reasonable 84 this year, it seems like Bouwmeester's rating is actually moderately accurate in NHL '08 (although, answer me this question if you're one of the 5 people who follow the Panthers: is he really that fucking fast?). But year after year he's one of those guys whose "potential" rating made him become a 90 by the age of 25** so I almost wonder if his rating will eventually suffer some residual negativity.
Anyway, this is off the top of my head, but here's a list of players who are comically overrated in hockey video games - with their ratings in parenthesis. Naturally, this is a pretty quick list, so lemme know some obvious ones I've left out in the comments:
- Michael Peca (86) Somewhere, there is a list floating around the blogosphere. It is titled "Unofficial list of players who inspire irrational hatred." Yeah, Peca is exceedingly mediocre. But maybe people hate him so unfairly because his video hockey skills are so greatly disproportionate to his actual, real life abilities.
Eric Lindros (82) I believe that one of the online roster updates finally weeded The Concussed One out of video games.*** But before that, the oft-injured power forward has been a beast on the imaginary ice years beyond his real life relevance. (John Leclair is pretty much in the same spot, with far less "shine a light in his eyes" type jokes)
- Todd Marchant (80-something) Never noticed it, really, because I never used the Edmonton Oilers back in the day and Marchant's general hockey career has been harmlessly irrelevant. But Sleek pointed him out when I did a top-5 video game countdown and it's changed his digi profile ever since. Since speed is such a huge factor in video games (especially in the days when all you really need to do was deke to score goals), his unrealistic impact has become downright jarring.
Sergei Fedorov (89) If he was this great in real life again, he could probably re-bang Anna Kournikova.
- The legacy of Alexei Yashin. Whenever people think of albatross contracts, they usually have to mention him.
Rick Dipietro and The Bulin Wall (to a lesser extent) are both well above average goaltenders. But in NHL '08 these guys are equal or even better than J.S. Giguere, Ryan Miller and Henrik Lundqvist. Something tells me that, big contract or not, the Kings would probably want to trade for Khabibulin if he was anywhere near Lundqvist's level.
* - Teams I arbitrarily picked out of a hat for being "potentially good" and maybe, somehow having some serious cap space next summer.
** - The early "franchise modes" of video games really went over the top with these "potential" ratings. If the NHL really worked that way, Gilbert Brule would be a few steps behind Evgeni Malkin and Andrew Raycroft would now be Roy 2.0. It seems like that trend is dying off now, although the creatively devoid Madden series really needs to cut that "team full of 99s" bullshit.
*** - It probably needs to be stated that, for this study, I'm only referring to NHL 08. Because the 2K series might as well cease to exist.