Player development in FHM6 is based on the concept of development speeds. These speeds can vary for many reasons: the player’s potential, the stage of his career, the level of competition, his playing time, injuries, and more. There’s also a random element that can cause development to speed up or down from year to year.
A rapid development speed will mean very frequent improvements to a player’s attributes; these can happen at a rate of one per month per category (or, in very special cases, even more often than that.) The user has some passive control over this by placing the player in favorable development circumstances and keeping him happy, but also one active tool: training.
Training decisions are made in the training view of any roster page. Here, you can single out specific players for extra coaching attention by clicking on the assignment boxes beside their name, broken down into individual attribute categories. This extra attention awards coaching bonus points to the player, which can significantly boost his development speed.
The largest coaching bonus a player can receive in a category is 20 points. Each team has a variable number of bonus points available in each category, determined by the quality and skills of their coaching staff – you can get an idea of the relative strengths and weaknesses of the staff by looking at the specialist coach listings at the bottom of the personnel screen.
Since there are a limited number of coaching bonus points available, if you nominate too many players for extra attention, you will see the bonus points they receive drop as the coaching resources are spread thinner and thinner. There is no such limitation on the players; they can be trained in all four categories at once if you wish.
Goalies can only be trained in two categories, Mental and Goaltending, and only one goalie at a time can receive training in a particular category at a time. So, if you’re carrying three goaltenders, one will be unable to get special attention.
Moving a player off a roster will lose all of his bonus points for that month, so be careful about shuttling players back and forth from the minors frequently, as it can impede their development.
Aging works like development, only in reverse. At a certain point, the game will determine that a player is going to start going downhill (there are actually two separate elements to this, physical and skill decline, and they don’t necessarily start at the same time.) Once that happens, he gets a decline speed, which begins to eat away at his attributes. You can slow the process somewhat by giving him special coaching attention, but he’ll inevitably regress faster than you can prop him up, and at some point either he or you will need to make a tough decision about his future in hockey and/or with the team.
New to FHM6 is the possibility of Variable Potential. Some players will be given a special marker that allows their potential to either rise or decline over time. This will produce more draft surprises – first-rounders that bust, or late-rounders that turn into elite players. Scouts may give you some warning if they think a player has this trait.