In the offensive category everything is mostly like it was in NHL 10. The only two real differences to my build that I didn't envision are the 90 hand eye and the 90 wrist shot power. Eye hand has multiple uses including deflecting shots and more importantly handling incoming passes including one-timers. Having a 90 lets me corral high powered passes from my center sent through traffic. It is also important to know what kind of hands the person you are passing to has. You are not going to be able to send a bullet cross crease to a rookie grinder with any hope of him doing anything with it so you may want to adjust your strategy accordingly depending on your linemates. Wrist shot power makes a big difference, bigger than last year it seems to me. Just going from an 85 to a 90 has made my shots a lot more deadly and increasing power compared with accuracy will allow for fewer hit posts (one of the oddities of the engine). The higher power also generates more rebounds for my line to put back.
In the defensive category there are a couple of key attributes if you don't want to spend all day in the penalty box and one that I think everyone should have at least a decent amount of. Discipline helps keep you from taking penalties of all kinds. According to the description it would seem it just helps hits but since going from a 70 to a 99 it has reduced my random stick fouls a ton. Along with this having a high stick check also helps with reducing stick fouls. I run a 90 but I would say nothing less than an 85 if you can. Defensive awareness is very important it helps a lot with disrupting and picking off passes. With a low defensive awareness pucks will just fly by you like you are not there. I am running a epic 95 but I would think if you can get a 75 or 80 at least you would probably be ok. The more the better because if you are in position to pick off a puck and it just goes by you are not only probably giving up a good chance against you are also probably giving up the opportunity to turn the puck over and create a chance the other way.
For athletics this year speed is definitely more important this year than last. I would go as far to say that for your first probably two or maybe three cards you probably want to throw most of your points into acceleration and speed with spares into agility. Being able to keep up is second to pretty much nothing else in this game. Putting on the 13" blades early on can help with your straight line speed as well but will hurt your agility and likely your defensive ability if you aren't used to them. The other two big stats are endurance and strength. Endurance keeps you from tiring out so quickly over the course of a period and let's you use the hustle feature a lot more often. It is also crucial for skating at high speeds for long periods of time. I run a 90 which keeps me pretty fresh even at the end of the period not sure what you could get away with, 70 definitely was not enough, 85 might be. Strength is important because it modifies so many other things. It helps shot power, ability to hit, ability to take a hit, hold off other players, etc. I run with an 80. I am, oddly enough, only running a 67 balance (85 last year) because I think other attributes are more important this year. I fall down if I get hit hard sometimes but when I get body position on a defender they can't really push me around if I lean into them due to the strength. I would say favor strength over balance at a maybe 3 to 1 point spending level.
So there you have it a few attributes and my thoughts on how useful they are.