When you set out on a new career in Franchise Mode, you have an important choice to make – unless you pick your favourite team – and that’s if you want to win-it-all now or if you want to build your own team.
READ MORE: NHL 21: Best and Worst Teams to Use and Rebuild
Going straight in with the best team in the game can be lots of fun, and you can aim for records and greatness from the get-go. However, it can also be very rewarding to pick a lowly team, a team that’s a few pieces away from being a Stanley Cup hopeful, or tear up a team and then build towards a dynasty.
These are the best teams to pick for whatever way you want to take on Franchise Mode in NHL 20. The images are drawn from the start of Franchise Mode running on the November 21 Online Roster.
NHL 20 Best Team: Tampa Bay Lightning
They may have crumbled in the 2019 NHL Playoffs and be off to a slow start – given their roster – this season, but the Tampa Bay Lightning are the best team in the league – in NHL 20 Franchise Mode and the real NHL. They boast tremendous depth and a plethora of star power at each position, with most of their top players still under 30-years-old.
The headline players include Brayden Point (89), Steven Stamkos (90), Nikita Kucherov (92), Victor Hedman (91), Ryan McDonagh (87), and Andrei Vasilevskiy (91) – all of whom can be on the ice at the same time with very strong, fully-equipped lines beneath. It’s an immaculate team that’s ready to win now and then continue to win for many seasons to come.
NHL 20 Worst Team: Ottawa Senators
The Ottawa Senators have been selling away their team for the last couple of seasons, and now they’re very much at the bottom and starting to build back up the standings. The team is young with a decent amount of potential, but right now, Ottawa’s best player is a 22-year-old defenseman, Thomas Chabot, who’s rated 86 in NHL 20.
There’s a lot of building that needs to be done with this team: they’re not yet in a place where it’s just about sitting back and waiting for the prospects to develop. The Senators need more prospects in the system and better players on the ice. For now, there are some useful players, like speedster Anthony Duclair (80) and center prospect Logan Brown, who can up his potential significantly with consistent major league play.
NHL 20 Team on the Cusp: Florida Panthers
The Florida Panthers have appeared to be on the cusp of becoming post-season regulars for a few seasons now, on paper, but plagues of injuries, an increasingly tough Atlantic Division, and peculiar coach sackings have hindered them greatly. Now, though, the young Panthers are right on the cusp of being among the very best teams in the Eastern Conference.
Their star players include Sergei Bobrovsky (89), Aleksander Barkov (90), Jonathan Huberdeau (90), Aaron Ekblad (86), and Vincent Trocheck (85), who are surrounded by other highly-rated talents in NHL 20 Franchise Mode. To take these Panthers to the top, you’ll want to add a top-six right wing and probably improve the defensive depth, bringing in a defensive defenseman with a low-80s rating to play in a top-six role.
NHL 20 Best Team to Rebuild: Chicago Blackhawks
In real-life, the Chicago Blackhawks have been on the decline since winning the Stanley Cup in 2015, missing the playoffs altogether in each of the last two seasons. They’ll most likely miss out this season as well, but they are still grossly overrated in the NHL 20 Franchise Mode. This does, however, make them a great team to rebuild with in the game.
You can come into Franchise Mode with the Chicago Blackhawks and shoot for the Stanley Cup in the first season – potentially winning the trophy – and then enter into a rebuild. The team is already right up against the salary cap, with the likes of Patrick Kane (91), Jonathan Toews (87), Duncan Keith (85), Brent Seabrook (80), and Corey Crawford (86) all drawing massive salaries and starting the first season at 30-years-old or over. Despite this, they all boast a tremendous amount of trade value – bar Seabrook – and can be shipped off to weaker teams for plenty of early draft picks in return.
The culling of the cap will also become a necessity with so many great prospects developing at speed. Adam Boqvist (77) and Alexander Nylander (79) have Elite med potential while Kirby Dach has Top 6 high potential – which can improve – and are all ready or just about ready to be in the NHL lines.
To further help the team through this rebuild transition and to forge a new foundation, there’s plenty of younger talent on the roster. First, there’s the absurdly well-rated Robin Lehner (87) in net with his Elite exact potential as well as Alex DeBrincat (86), Dylan Strome (83), and Erik Gustafsson (84) being 21-years-old, 22-years-old, and 27-years-old, respectively.
You could probably enjoy a run at the Stanley Cup in your first NHL 20 Franchise Mode season, but to get the next dynasty underway, it’d be best to trade away the big-names by the 2020 trade deadline or in the following offseason. From there, you have a great core of young talents as well as lots of draft currency to bulk-up the prospect pool and build your all-conquering team.
NHL 20 Best Prospect Pool: Detroit Red Wings
The Detroit Red Wings’ prospect pool is teeming with top-set talents. While a couple of other teams have one extra Elite-level potential skater than the Red Wings, Detroit have Filip Zadina as their crown jewel with Elite med potential as well as six potential top-six forwards and three top-four defensemen. It’s a stacked pool that’s just lacking a classy goaltender.
Better yet, the team’s four best players – Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha, Tyler Bertuzzi, and Andreas Athanasiou – are all under-25. So, there’s a strong batch of youngsters in the NHL lines already, with even more on the way up.
In the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, the Red Wings also tote five picks in the first three rounds. So, stay on top of your scouting game, get all 20 of your scouts out and searching in all regions – doubling up in the Scandinavian and Canadian leagues – and maybe try to add another first-round selection.
It’s always great fun building up a team through the draft and with some savvy free agent pickups, but if you want to win-it-all straight away in NHL 20 Franchise Mode, the Bolts give you the best chance at glory.
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