Teams in the NHL go through periods where asset accumulation and creating a youth movement in the lines can help improve the franchises fortunes in the long-term.
Top-six forwards could be running out of contract and if your team isn’t competing, these players have trade value to a contender. Perhaps you have a top-four defender like Alex Pietrangelo who is looking to test the market in free-agency. Maybe you have an aging goaltender like the New York Rangers and need to play the younger net-minders to gain experience. Or perhaps you are looking for a superstar young player to be the backbone of your franchise for years to come.
Here, you’ll find all the best young players – skaters and goaltenders in NHL 21 Franchise Mode. The list of best young players will feature in a table at the foot of the article, while the top six overall rated players will be in the main body of the piece.
Choosing NHL 21 Franchise Mode’s Best Young Players
The most important feature when considering the best young players in NHL 21 Franchise Mode is their starting overall rating.
Skaters that are the best in this category will feature in the body of the article; this also extends to goaltenders. The minimum requirements to be in this article is that the player must be 22-years old or younger and have an overall rating of 83 or above.
For this simulation, the 10th of October rosters were used to collect the data.
Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs (90 OVR)
Potential: Elite High
Drafted: 1st Round, 1st Pick (2016)
Best Stats: 95 Poise, 93 Wrist Shot Accuracy, 92 Deking, 92 Passing, 92 Offensive Awareness
Auston Matthews is the undisputed face of the Toronto Maple Leafs even with the likes of Mitch Marner and captain John Tavares playing alongside him. With that comes the pressure of playing for an original six team which hasn’t lifted Lord Stanley’s Cup for over 50 years.
The American put up strong numbers for the Leafs last season; 80 points in total from 70 games played with 47 goals and 33 assists. Matthews contributed six points in Toronto’s playoff bubble to the Columbus Blue Jackets, half of which came in game 4.
Matthews is the only player in our article that reaches a 90 overall rating, and is one of three with an elite high potential.
His attribute ratings of 95 Poise, 93 Wrist Shot Accuracy and 92 Deking are relatively similar to his rating from last season. Wrist shot accuracy has improved which makes Matthews dangerous on break away chances and in general play inside the zone.
Elias Pettersson, Vancouver Canucks (89 OVR)
Potential: Elite High
Type: 2-Way Forward
Drafted: 1st Round, 5th Pick (2017)
Best Stats: 95 Poise, 94 Deking, 94 Passing, 94 Puck Control, 94 Offensive Awareness
Vancouver’s recent accumulation of draft picks have turned into gold with the Canucks preparing to be a main stayer in the Western Conference playoffs for years to come. One of those players who has made an immediate impact since being drafted in 2017 is center Elias Pettersson.
The Swede managed to replicate his regular season points total from the 18/19 season, the difference being that he scored one less goal this season. What is important when looking at the numbers was that his plus/minus differential improved by +13. His first taste of play-off hockey was impressive, however the Vegas Golden Knights limited his impact dramatically.
Pettersson is the prototypical 2-way forward. He transitions well between zones and is more than capable at joking the puck when the Canucks are hemmed into their own zone.
With the puck he is a magician. 94 Passing, 94 Deking and 94 Puck Control are numbers which will give players absolute creative freedom on the ice. At 21, Pettersson has an elite high potential and could easily be the player to lead your franchise in the long-term.
Matthew Tkachuk, Calgary Flames (87 OVR)
Potential: Elite Medium
Position: Left Wing
Type: Power Forward
Drafted: 1st Round, 6th Pick (2016)
Best Stats: 91 Aggressiveness, 90 Body Checking, 90 Passing, 90 Stick Checking, 90 Balance
Calgary have been a mystery in some regards, a team with excellent top-six forwards and a solid defensive core. However, in the playoffs the Flames have shown they can’t get it done. One player who was seething from the Flames bouncing out in the playoffs is Matthew Tkachuk.
Tkachuk is a physically tough player who throws his weight around at any time, but is a more than capable player when entering the offensive zone. In the regular season, Tkachuk scored 23 goals and provided 38 assists in the shortened season. He did however, go missing in the playoffs with only two points from six games before the injury which sidelined him for the remainder of the playoff series with Dallas.
Tkachuk is a power forward by trade and players who love to check opponents into the board or in open ice will enjoy using the Calgary left winger. 91 Aggressiveness and 90 Body Checking are great stats for players who like to fore-check intensively.
But Tkachuk also has 90 Passing and 90 Balance, meaning he is a strong skater and a capable passing option when transitioning forward. His potential is elite medium, but he is an excellent option for your franchise.
Patrik Laine, Winnipeg Jets (87 OVR)
Potential: Elite Medium
Position: Right Wing
Drafted: 1st Round, 2nd Pick (2016)
Best Stats: 94 Hand-Eye, 94 Slap Shot Power, 93 Wrist Shot Accuracy, 93 Wrist Shot Power, 92 Slap Shot Accuracy
The sun could be setting for Patrik Laine and the Winnipeg Jets as it seems from the outside that the Finnish right winger is starting to lose admirers in the province of Manitoba.
Laine did improve on his previous campaign with 63 points and significantly improved his plus/minus from -24 to +8. However, he only featured once in the playoffs in Edmonton as he succumbed to injury, and the Jets were bounced in the playoffs by the Calgary Flames.
Laine is a similar type of player to Matthews except that the Winnipeg Jets player plays on the wing. What he offers are great shooting stats; 94 Slap Shot Power, 93 Wrist Shot Accuracy, 93 Wrist Shot Power and 92 Slap Shot Power.
In NHL 21, Laine is someone who could lead your powerplay with his excellent sniping abilities and as he enters the last year of a two-year deal. Laine could be an attractive option going forward.
Rasmus Dahlin, Buffalo Sabres (86 OVR)
Potential: Elite High
Type: 2-Way Defender
Drafted: 1st Round, 1st Pick (2018)
Best Stats: 90 Defensive Awareness, 90 Endurance, 90 Durability, 89 Slap Shot Accuracy, 88 Shot Blocking
A player who probably doesn’t get talked about enough as the Buffalo Sabres have continued on a sled of mediocrity is defender Rasmus Dahlin. The Swede was the first pick in the 2018 draft and has played 141 games in two seasons for Buffalo.
Where it’s been difficult for Dahlin has been the continuity or lack thereof in Buffalo. A team that is constantly switching coaches and player personnel can’t be great for his development.
Dahlin is a 2-way defender and some who is capable in multiple facets of the game. He has great Endurance (90) and excellent Durability (90), meaning he can take longer shifts. With his defensive capabilities, including 90 Defensive Awareness and 88 Shot Blocking, he will become one of the best defenders in time in NHL 21.
If you wish to save Dahlin from the recent mess that is the Sabres, he comes off his rookie deal at the end of the season and becomes an RFA. If you have the assets to trade for the only elite high defender on our list, it is recommended.
Carter Hart, Philadelphia Flyers (86 OVR)
Potential: Elite Medium
Drafted: 2nd Round, 28th Pick (2016)
Best Stats: 91 Speed, 90 Agility, 89 Glove Low, 89 Angles, 89 Rebound Control
The only goalie to feature in our list is Philadelphia Flyers net-minder Carter Hart. The Canadian spent his first professional season with the Flyers AHL affiliate side in Lehigh Valley but found his way into a Philadelphia uniform thanks to crippling injuries to several goaltenders.
Under Alain Vigneault, Hart became the disputed starter ahead of Brian Elliott with the American making 43 appearances with a save percentage of .914. Hart only managed one shutout in the regular season but where the Sherwood Park native shined brightest was in the playoffs with some truly memorable performances.
Hart is a quick goalie with 91 Speed and 90 Agility, and his fundamentals are strong – he has an 89 Glove Low rating and 89 Angles. Good goalies are able to control rebounds or parry the puck away from any danger, and Hart is rated 89 in this element.
Like Dahlin, Hart is on the final year of his rookie contract and will garner significant money in Franchise Mode. The question players will need to ask is whether what they have in net is good enough to be a long-term option, or is there enough cap space or assets to bring Hart to my franchise.
All the Best Young Players in NHL 21
Here’s a complete list of all of the best young players in NHL 21 Franchise mode.
|Auston Matthews||Center||Toronto Maple Leafs||Elite High||90||22|
|Elias Pettersson||Center||Vancouver Canucks||Elite High||89||21|
|Matthew Tkachuk||Left Wing||Calgary Flames||Elite Medium||87||22|
|Patrik Laine||Right Wing||Winnipeg Jets||Elite Medium||87||22|
|Rasmus Dahlin||Defenseman||Buffalo Sabres||Elite High||86||20|
|Carter Hart||Goaltender||Philadelphia Flyers||Elite Medium||86||22|
|Quinn Hughes||Defenseman||Vancouver Canucks||Elite Medium||86||20|
|Andrei Svechnikov||Right Wing||Carolina Hurricanes||Elite Medium||86||20|
|Miro Heiskanen||Defenseman||Dallas Stars||Elite Medium||86||21|
|Charlie McAvoy||Defenseman||Boston Bruins||Elite Medium||86||22|
|Pierre-Luc Dubois||Center||Columbus Blue Jackets||Elite Medium||86||22|
|Cale Makar||Defenseman||Colorado Avalanche||Elite Medium||85||21|
|Nico Hischier||Center||New Jersey Deveils||Elite Medium||85||21|
|Alex DeBrincat||Right Wing||Chicago Blackhawks||Elite Medium||85||22|
|Brady Tkachuk||Left Wing||Ottowa Senators||Elite Medium||84||20|
|Clayton Keller||Center||Arizona Coyotes||Elite Medium||84||22|
|Mikhail Sergachev||Defenseman||Tampa Bay Lightning||Elite Medium||84||22|
|Martin Necas||Center||Carolina Hurricanes||Elite Medium||83||21|
|Jacob Chychrun||Defenseman||Arizona Coyotes||Elite Medium||83||22|
|Adam Fox||Defenseman||New York Rangers||Top 4 D Medium||83||22|
|Nick Suzuki||Center||Montreal Canadiens||Top 6 F Medium||83||21|