NHL 20 Franchise Mode: Best Young Centers

One of these young centers could become the face of your franchise in NHL 20.


When it comes to Franchise Mode on NHL 20, one of the most satisfying elements is giving young talents a chance in your NHL lines and developing them into world-beating superstars.

The chances are that you’re top-line center will become your most important player and quite possibly your highest point scorer when they reach their full potential. Centers play a pivotal role in the team’s strategies, especially a team’s top center, be it as a playmaker, a sniper, a grinder, or in the increasingly coveted two-way role. Many rebuilding teams will look for a potential superstar center and then build their teams around them however they see fit.


So, here are the best young centers in NHL 20’s Franchise Mode. They are all 21-years-old or younger, with all of the figures taken from the 10 October 2019 Online Roster – to give EA Sports a bit of time to adjust to the NHL rosters.

Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs

Overall: 90
Age: 21-years-old
Potential: Elite high
Player Type: Center Sniper
Contract: $11.335 million, 5 years, 1-way
Nationality: American

Auston Matthews was a special talent coming through the US system, deciding that the best way to prove himself to NHL scouts was to play abroad during his draft year. With the ZSC Lions in the NLA, he notched 46 points in 36 games of men’s hockey. Since being drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs first overall, the Arizona-native has become a leader among the budding team and will be pivotal as they aim to win the Stanley Cup in the coming years. His first three years as a Bud have seen Matthews steadily increase his rate of points per game, from 69 in 82 games in 2016/17 to 73 points in 68 games of the 2018/18 season.

As his overall rating of 90 OVR suggests, Auston Matthews is already one of the best centers in NHL 20. In Franchise Mode, he is a pivotal part of the Maple Leafs’ set up, boasting strong attributes in every facet of the game. His faceoffs attribute at 81 and poise of 95 mean he’s strong in duel, while ratings of 90 or above in all senses, puck skills, shooting, and speed ratings mean that he’s very user-friendly.

Elias Pettersson, Vancouver Canucks

Overall: 87
Age: 20-years-old
Potential: Elite high
Player Type: Two-Way Center
Contract: $0.925 million, 2 years, 2-way
Nationality: Swedish

After being selected fifth overall in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, the Vancouver Canucks thought it best send Elias Pettersson for one more season in his home nation of Sweden. With the Vaxjo Lakers, Pettersson scored 56 points in 44 games of men’s hockey, winning the SHL and proving himself as a top talent once again. Vancouver called him up to the NHL, but few expected him to make the impact that he did in 2018/19. Pettersson scored 28 goals and 66 points in 71 games, marking himself as one of the most exciting young skaters in the league. This season, the Swede got off to a hot start as well, nailing six goals and 20 points through the first 14 games.

The NHL 20 rating team certainly took notice of Pettersson’s enigmatic play, giving him a hefty overall rating of 87 OVR entering his sophomore season, along with an Elite high POT rating. With 94 deking, 91 hand-eye, 91 passing, 92 puck control, 90 stick checking, 92 offensive awareness, 90 poise, 91 agility, 91 slap shot accuracy, 92 wrist shot accuracy, 90 wrist shot power, and 89 defensive awareness, Pettersson is already a tremendous center to have in Franchise Mode. Down the line, he’ll become one of the best in the game.

Alex DeBrincat, Chicago Blackhawks

Overall: 86
Age: 21-years-old
Potential: Elite med
Player Type: Sniper Center
Contract: $0.780 million, 1 year, 2-way
Nationality: American

On a team that already has a scoring machine in Patrick Kane, the Chicago Blackhawks found themselves another with a second-round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. After back-to-back-to-back seasons of 100-plus points with the Erie Otters in the OHL, the Blackhawks finally called upon Alex DeBrincat, and he delivered. Since 2017/18 and up to the 12th game of the 2019/20 season, the versatile American hasn’t missed a game, tallying 72 goals and 135 points in 176 NHL games.

With the exception of his durability, which is given a rating of 90, DeBrincat’s physicality ratings are rather low, as are most of his defensive attributes in NHL 20. However, the diminutive center boasts 91 or above across all puck skills, 91 slap shot accuracy, 92 wrist shot power, 91 offensive awareness, 92 acceleration, 91 agility, and 92 speed. He’s a great skater to have on the team, but with a 65 for faceoffs, DeBrincat is best deployed on the wing.

Pierre-Luc Dubois, Columbus Blue Jackets

Overall: 85
Age: 21-years-old
Potential: Elite med
Player Type: Power Forward Center
Contract: $0.895 million, 1 year, 2-way
Nationality: Canadian

Pierre-Luc Dubois is another incredibly durable young center, not missing a game since being called up to the Columbus Blue Jackets’ NHL lines at the start of the 2017/18 campaign – as of the team’s 14th game of this season. In his second season, the former Cape Breton Screaming Eagle notched his 100th NHL point, now sitting on 119 in 178 games and featuring as Columbus’ top-line center.

While only his durability is rated in the 90s, Dubois boasts a very well-rounded attribute set in NHL 20. The highlights include an 89 for passing, puck control, and offensive awareness as well as 88s in defensive awareness and slap shot power. At 191cm and 84 kg, Pierre-Luc Dubois is a great weapon to have at either end of the ice.

Nico Hischier, New Jersey Devils

Overall: 84
Age: 20-years-old
Potential: Elite med
Player Type: Two-Way Forward
Contract: $0.925 million, 1 year, 2-way
Nationality: Swiss

In the running to the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, much of the talk was about Nolan Patrick, captain of the Brandon Wheat Kings in the WHL. But over the course of Patrick’s shortened season, Nico Hischier – in his first season outside of Switzerland and with the Halifax Mooseheads – proved himself to be top of the class with 86 points in 57 games. Clocking 99 points in his first two seasons with the New Jersey Devils, the Swiss center hit 100 in the second game of this campaign with an assist, playing alongside Taylor Hall and Kyle Palmieri.

Only 20-years-old at the start of Franchise Mode in NHL 20, Nico Hischier already totes a bunch of 90s across key attributes. The two-way center is rated 90 in deking, acceleration, agility, and speed as well as 89s for passing, puck control, and offensive awareness. As he develops towards his Elite med potential, his 75s in faceoffs and poise see a decent uptick, making him a formidable center.

Those skaters shown above are the top five young centers in NHL 20’s Franchise Mode, but the following players are also worth a look:

NameAgePlayer TypeHandednessPotentialOverall Rating
Jesperi Kotkaniemi19PlaymakerLeftElite med82
Jack Hughes18PlaymakerLeftElite high82
Nolan Patrick20Power ForwardRightElite med81
Tyson Jost21Two-Way ForwardLeftTop 6 med81
Martin Necas20PlaymakerLeftElite med80
Cody Glass20Two-Way ForwardRightTop 6 high80
Robert Thomas20Two-Way ForwardRightTop 6 med80
Filip Chytil20Two-Way ForwardLeftTop 6 med80

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NHL 20: Complete Team Strategies Guide, Line Strategies Guide, Best Team Strategies

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NHL 20 Draft: Best Players and Top Draft Steals 2020

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NHL 20 Franchise Mode: Best Young Left Wingers

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NHL 20 Ratings: Best Young Skaters

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Ben Chopping

Will give almost any game a chance, particularly those that include wildlife, monsters, or prehistoric creatures of any kind.

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