There are many ways to enjoy the sport of ice hockey across the game modes of NHL 21. Franchise Mode is, naturally, the go-to mode for team play, but Threes also offers a fun way to play based on the 3-on-3 overtime and All-Star format of the NHL.
Here, we’re exploring all of the best, and some of the worst, teams to use in NHL 21 across its game modes, including the best team to rebuild in Franchise Mode, the worst team in the NHL, the best Threes sides, and the best NHL team in the game.
NHL 21 Best Team: Tampa Bay Lightning
Having just won the Stanley Cup with a team predominantly made of young players and skaters in their prime, all without captain Steven Stamkos, it’s tough to deny Tampa Bay Lightning as the best team in Franchise Mode.
Headlined by the likes of Nikita Kucherov (92 OVR), Andrei Vasilevskiy (91 OVR), Victor Hedman (91 OVR), and Steven Stamkos (90 OVR), the Bolts are perfectly positioned to run for the double, and perhaps even the three-peat with the right GM at the helm.
NHL 21 Worst Team: Ottawa Senators
While there are some decent talents and exciting young players in the lines, the Ottawa Senators are easily the worst-rated team in Franchise Mode; if you want the ultimate challenge, try to win the Stanley Cup with this Sens roster.
Thomas Chabot (86 OVR) and Brady Tkachuk (84 OVR) have fairly good overall ratings but are easily the team’s best-rated. So, users will need to try to coax some value out of the speed of Anthony Duclair (82 OVR), or the muscle of Nikita Zaitsev (82 OVR).
NHL 21 Best Team to Rebuild: Minnesota Wild
Not only do the Minnesota Wild need ripping up and rebuilding, but they still have a decent situation to do so in NHL 21 Franchise Mode.
All of Jared Spurgeon (84 OVR), Ryan Suter (87 OVR), Mats Zuccarello (83 OVR), Alex Galchenyuk (82 OVR), and even Matt Dumba (85 OVR) can be shifted for decent returns in the pursuit of prospects and picks.
Minnesota already have a decent batch of prospects in the pool, with Hunter Jones (Starter med), Calen Addison (Top 4 med), Alexander Khovanov (Top 6 F med), Mason Shaw (Top 6 F med), and Connor Dewar (Top 9 F high) set to feature on the NHL lines in the coming seasons.
During NHL 21’s early access, EA Sports had yet to include players from the 2020 NHL Draft. When an update arrives, however, Marco Rossi, Marat Khusnutdinov, and Ryan O’Rourke look set to become the best of the batch.
With a fairly weak roster that can be put into full tank mode after a few trades, the Wild can capitalise on their five picks in the first three rounds of the 2021 Draft, which includes two first-round picks already.
NHL 21 Fastest Team: Tampa Bay Lightning
As well as starting NHL 21 as the best team in Franchise Mode, the Tampa Bay Lightning also boast more players with over four-star for their skating than any other team. Among the Lightning’s best skaters are several who rank among the fastest in the game.
Kucherov (93 acceleration, 93 agility, 92 speed), Brayden Point (92 acceleration, 93 agility, 90 speed), Stamkos (93 acceleration, 93 agility, 92 speed), Tyler Johnson (92 acceleration, 92 agility, 90 speed), and Ondrej Palat (90 acceleration, 90 agility, 90 speed), offer tremendously speedy attribute ratings to use in all situations.
NHL 21 Best Alumni Team: Detroit Red Wings
The Alumni All-Time teams offer a few of the best teams in NHL 21, as you’d assume, and yet, among the NHL Alumni Associate teams, one option has good enough team ratings, to contend with the All-Time teams.
Standing as the best Alumni team in NHL 21, the Detroit Red Wings come in with 94 goaltending, 99 goaltending, and 100 offence.
With players like Gordie Howe (95 OVR), Steve Yzerman (92 OVR), and Ted Lindsay (90 OVR) on the first line alone, few teams can compete with the Red Wings Alumni team.
NHL 21 Best Threes Team: Boston Bruins
The Boston Bruins come into the Threes game mode as the best-rated NHL team. The top forwards offer premium two-way play and a scoring punch, with Patrice Bergeron (91 OVR), Brad Marchand (91 OVR), and David Pastrnak (91 OVR) being strong in all areas of the rink.
In goal, there’s the near-unflappable Tuukka Rask (90 OVR), with the massive Zdeno Chara (84 OVR) or the mobile Charlie McAvoy (86 OVR) just in front.
Of course, the best Threes team overall is one of the All-Star teams, the Atlantic All-Stars. Also featuring Pastrnak, the Atlantic All-Stars are further bolstered by Shea Weber (88 OVR) in defence.
NHL 21 Best Online Team: Tampa Bay Lightning
As you’d assume from a club ranked as the best Franchise Mode team and the fastest team in NHL 21, the best NHL team to use when playing online is the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Speed is a very important aspect of the game, as is line depth – which the Bolts have by the bucket – but the Lightning’s most appealing factor is their mighty and mobile goaltender, Vasilevskiy (91 OVR).
Throw in the several 90-plus-rated skaters dotted throughout the lines, and you’ve got a remarkably potent and user-friendly team to use online in NHL 21.
It’s always a great challenge to look to rebuild an NHL franchise from the ground up, but if you want to win now in most game modes, the Lightning ranks as the best team to use.