NHL 11 provides solid progression for EA's NHL series from years past. The game has successfully incorporated the 3 leagues (OHL, WHL, and QMJHL) that make up the CHL junior leagues, and have a unique way of incorporating them into the be a pro and be a GM game modes.
In gameplay, the most notable adjustments include the hold pass button feature that provides a harder pass the longer you hold, adjusted checking system which creates a less 'arcade-y' feel, broken sticks, and updated faceoff physics. These adjustments can be frustrating at times, however, in an attempt to make a game as close to the real thing as possible, I would say it is a solid improvement from years past.
HUT (or Hockey Ultimate Team) is brand new to the NHL series. You buy/acquire hockey cards of players throughout all of the leagues available, and you build your team, adding attributes and contracts to each player. While I think it's a unique experience, EA went way too far with the online focused achievements for HUT.
The EASHL remains one of my personal favourites in terms of online competitive play. This year, teams are able to customize NHL and EA generated jerseys for their teams, as well as be able to practice with the team without computers. Just make sure you don't take a run at someone from behind in an OTP or EASHL league game, because you could get a 5 minute major and be forced to watch the rest of the game from overhead thanks to the misconduct rule implemented.