I am an avid hockey fan and play NHL 11 pretty much daily. After seeing some of the new things that they've added to NHL 12 I'm really not all that excited. As with Madden, for example, yearly publishing of sports games tends to just lead to refinement, minor tweaks, maybe some new modes, and roster changes. This is a common complaint for sports gamers (and those who hate on them), that it's the same game every year. I'm content with NHL 11 and really don't feel the need to pay 60 bucks just so I can hit the goalie and see players' helmets fly off after a hit.
IMO they should start staggering sports games and release them biennially.
Start working on DLC. Have roster update DLC for starters. Isn't that one of the top reasons people buy sports games every year? Then maybe start getting fancy: subscription (probably the only genre other than MMO that can get away with a subscription fee) for up-to-date roster info. Be able to have rosters based on current injuries, trades, stats, etc... Then possibly integrate that into online. For example, the Eastern Finals are still underway and going to game 7. Make it an online event somehow where people can play against one another as the Bruins or Tampa. Maybe even base it on real-time, too.
Meanwhile, make us an amazing NHL 13. Keep all of the cool stuff you have already for NHL 12 but keep going. Incorporate some of the technology that is available. Throw in some of the Unreal, Havok, or Dice's engines. (I don't know if that's possible, I'm not a programmer. But use some of the amazing tech that's available.)