One of the benefits of starting an NHL 20 Franchise Mode on one of the earlier rosters is that you get easy access to a good selection of helpful free agents.
If you need to patch a hole in the bottom six of your forward lines, add a top-six or seventh defenseman, or even find a stronger backup goaltender, the free agency is a great, cap-friendly way to go about bolstering your lines.
As NHL 20 starts with a fair few free agents with decent overall ratings at each position, you’ll want to explore the selection in Franchise Mode on the first day. So, enter the game, check your lines, perform some roster moves, identify an area of weakness, and then hit the market.
Here are the best free agents in NHL 20’s Franchise Mode. All of the figures are taken from the 10 October 2019 Online Roster, so some may not be available if you start a Franchise Mode on a much later online roster.
Justin Williams, Second Line Forward
Positional Role: Two-Way Right Wing
Desired Contract: $1.9 million, 1-year, 1-way
After winning the Stanley Cup thrice and getting his hands on the Conn Smythe Trophy, Justin Williams moved to the Washington Capitals in what looked to win him his fourth Cup.
The team landed back-to-back Presidents’ Trophies, but he left one season too soon, with the Caps winning the ultimate prize of the NHL in 2018. Taking on a leadership role with the young Carolina Hurricanes, Williams was instrumental in the Canes becoming playoff contenders once again.
Justin Williams announced earlier this year that he’d be stepping away from the game for a while, but that should he return, it would be to the Hurricanes. Williams may be 37-years-old, but he played in all but three regular season games of the last eight seasons, amassing 380 points over those 619 contests.
In NHL 20’s Franchise Mode, the free agent boasts 90 durability, 90 poise, and an 86 in all puck skills, awareness at both ends of the ice, acceleration, agility, speed, slap shot power, and wrist shot accuracy. With an overall rating of 82, the two-way right wing can easily fit into a bottom-six role, if not as a second line forward.
Thomas Vanek, Third Line Scoring Forward
Positional Role: Left Wing Sniper
Desired Contract: $1.126 million, 1-year, 1-way
After establishing himself as a top goalscorer for the Buffalo Sabres over the first eight-and-a-half seasons of his NHL career, Thomas Vanek has bounced around the league.
The Austrian winger has notched goals for the New York Islanders, Montreal Canadiens, Minnesota Wild, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, Vancouver Canucks, and Columbus Blue Jackets, accumulating 373 goals in 1029 games.
Now 35-years-old, Vanek can provide ample scoring depth to any team at a low cap hit. Vanek’s 86 offensive awareness, 85 slap shot accuracy, 87 slap shot power, 85 wrist shot accuracy, 86 wrist shot power, 88 balance, and 87 strength mean that he offers a decent scoring threat in a top-nine role.
Brian Boyle, Third Checking Line
Positional Role: Power Forward Center
Desired Contract: $0.925 million, 1-year, 1-way
Brian Boyle has become famous around the NHL for his towering size, willingness to drop the gloves, and his incredible story of continuing to play after being diagnosed with a form of leukaemia, going on to win the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. The mighty center has never been a major scoring threat, but his presence on the ice is always felt.
Starting the season as a free agent after ending the last campaign with the Nashville Predators, Boyle has now signed with the Florida Panthers, tallying eight points and 30 hits through his first 18 games as a Panther.
In any roster released before 24 October, Brian Boyle will start as a free agent and is a valuable addition. Labelled as a third line checking forward, the 198cm, 111kg center boasts moderate faceoff attributes at 80 for poise and faceoffs.
However, Boyle’s power attributes, which include 88s for slap shot power, wrist shot power, body checking, and aggressiveness, 93 strength, 85 fighting skill, and 94 durability, are tremendously useful when deployed in a bottom-six role.
Luca Sbisa, Top Six Defenseman
Positional Role: Defensive Defenseman
Desired Contract: $1.075 million, 1-year, 1-way
Italian by birth, Swiss by nationality, Luca Sbisa has played in the NHL since the 2008/09 season but has only played one full 82-game season. Through 519 games, Sbisa has scored 19 goals and 106 points, often utilised for his checking ability.
With an overall rating of 79 and at just 29-years-old – which is young for a player with a fair overall rating in the free agency – Sbisa is an appealing pick-up in NHL 20’s Franchise Mode. His high ratings of 87 shot blocking, 87 stick checking, 88 body checking, and 88 strength make Sbisa a useful shut-down defenseman.
The former Philadelphia Flyers, Anaheim Ducks, Vancouver Canucks, Vegas Golden Knights, and New York Islanders defenseman has now joined the Winnipeg Jets, signing with the Ducks on 22 October before being picked up on the waivers the next day.
Michal Neuvirth, Backup Goaltender
Positional Role: Hybrid Goaltender
Desired Contract: $0.775 million, 1-year, 1-way
Michal Neuvirth has always been classed and used as a backup goaltender in the NHL. While the Czech shot-stopper has enjoyed spells in the number one seat when competing in a tandem, as was sometimes the case in Philadelphia, he hasn’t played more than 32 games in a season since 2011/12.
Last season, Neuvirth could only feature in seven games – winning once – due to injury and is still without an NHL contract. So, in NHL 20, Neuvirth is still a free agent in Franchise Mode and a half-decent choice if you need a cost-effective backup goaltender behing a solid starter.
At 31-years-old, Neuvirth’s 80 overall rating is usable, especially as its being propped up by an 88 in speed and 85 in angles, breakaway, glove low, stick low, rebound control, recover, aggressiveness, agility, endurance, and vision.
Those players are the highest rated pickups from the free agency at the start of NHL 20’s Franchise Mode. Here are a few other players with higher ratings and some of the younger free agents with decent potential:
|Jason Pominville||36||Right Wing||Playmaker||$0.975m, 1-year, 1-way||80|
|Adam McQuaid||32||Defenseman||Defensive||$1.1m, 1-year, 1-way||79|
|Anthony Louis||24||Center||Playmaker||$0.7m, 1-year, 2-way||71|
|Nic Kerdiles||25||Left Wing||Two-Way||$0.75m, 1-year, 2-way||78|
|Rourke Chartier||23||Center||Playmaker||$0.925m, 3-year, 2-way||74|
|Keaton Middleton||21||Defenseman||Defensive||$0.7m, 1-year, 2-way||65|
|Chad Johnson||33||Goaltender||Hybrid||$0.75m, 1-year, 1-way||80|
|Zachary Fucale||24||Goaltender||Hybrid||$0.7m, 1-year, 2-way||70|
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