Faceoffs are an integral part of the sport of ice hockey, with possession-based strategies becoming fundamental to the top teams of the NHL.
In NHL 21, you’re given a diverse set of controls to win each faceoff. However, even if your technique isn’t the best in the circle, having one of the top faceoff centers in the game can help you to win more faceoffs.
Winning the puck regardless of which line you have on the ice is crucial to your success. So, here are the best faceoff centers in NHL 21, ranging from top-line forwards to reliable bottom-six pivots.
Choosing the best faceoff centers in NHL 21
In order to find the best faceoff centers in NHL 21, we narrowed down the search to forwards with attribute ratings of at least 85 faceoffs and 80 poise – calculating the average of the two to find each player’s faceoff score.
On this page, you can see each of the top-five faceoff centers featured, as well as a full list of all of the top faceoff centers in NHL 21 at the foot of the article.
Patrice Bergeron (Faceoff Score: 94.5)
Overall Rating: 91
Player Type: Two-Way Forward
Team: Boston Bruins
Best Attributes: 95 Poise, 95 Defensive Awareness, 95 Stick Checking
Now 35-years-old, Patrice Bergeron remains the prime example of a two-way center in the NHL. During the shortened 2019/20 campaign, the Canadian managed to score 31 goals to compliment his 15.27 shooting percentage and 57.9 faceoff percentage through 61 games.
During the Boston Bruins’ 13-game playoff run last season, the right-shot pivot won 56.1 per cent of his 321 faceoffs, and also laid down 15 hits, blocked 17 shots, and held a team-high +2 rating.
In NHL 21, Bergeron ranks as the top faceoff center in the game by a narrow margin. His 95 poise and 94 faceoffs, however, are just a glimpse of the workhorse’s best attributes.
Being the complete two-way forward, the veteran comes in with 94 offensive awareness, 95 defensive awareness, 95 stick checking, 92 passing, 92 puck control, and 88 strength.
Jonathan Toews (Faceoff Score: 94.0)
Overall Rating: 87
Player Type: Two-Way Forward
Team: Chicago Blackhawks
Best Attributes: 95 Poise, 93 Stick Checking, 93 Defensive Awareness
Jonathan Toews has already featured in over 900 games for the Chicago Blackhawks, with his 815 points, +193 career regular season rating, and 56.9 faceoff win percentage proving that he’s been world-class since entering the league in 2007.
Already a three-time Stanley Cup-winning captain, Toews has plenty more to give at 32-years-old, but is presently a central component of the Blackhawks’ big rebuild. Even so, the Winnipeg-native managed to amass 60 points in 70 games last season.
Toews’ overall rating has taken a hit in recent editions of the EA Sports franchise, now sitting with an 87 overall rating. Still, his faceoffs ability remains very strong, thanks to his 93 faceoffs and 95 poise.
The former third-overall selection is a great contender away from the puck drop, too, as demonstrated by Toews’ 93 stick checking, 93 defensive awareness, 90 endurance, 89 durability, 87 strength, and 88 hand-eye.
Sidney Crosby (Faceoff Score: 93.0)
Overall Rating: 93
Player Type: Playmaker
Team: Pittsburgh Penguins
Best Attributes: 95 Stick Checking, 95 Passing, 95 Offensive Awareness
For the fifth time in his storied career, Sidney Crosby was forced to work his way back from a long-term injury in 2019/20, but still managed to rank third in points for the seventh-placed Pittsburgh Penguins.
Despite his injury troubles, Crosby continued to prove himself as one of the best centers in the NHL, scoring 47 points and holding a 55.6 faceoff win percentage through 41 games.
While ‘The Next One’ takes the crown, Crosby is one of the highest-rated centers in NHL 21: it just so happens that his strongest attribute ratings include his 91 faceoffs and 95 poise.
Unlike most of the top faceoff centers, the Penguins captain is a playmaker. So, along with his superb defensive ratings, Crosby is also an excellent player to have around the goal, as shown by his 95 passing, 94 puck control, 94 deking, 94 hand-eye, 93 wrist shot accuracy, and 91 slap shot accuracy.
Ryan O’Reilly (Faceoff Score: 92.5)
Overall Rating: 89
Player Type: Two-Way Forward
Team: St. Louis Blues
Best Attributes: 95 Discipline, 95 Faceoffs, 93 Defensive Awareness
Ryan O’Reilly has firmly established himself as one of the best defensive forwards in the NHL, while also having a knack for making goal-scoring plays. Last season, he led the St. Louis Blues with 61 points in 71 games.
Where the Stanley Cup winner is at his most dominant, however, is in the faceoff circle. Still only 29-years-old, O’Reilly won 56.6 per cent of his 1,556 faceoffs in the regular season and held a 62.7 faceoff win percentage in the playoffs.
Of the top faceoff centers in NHL 21, the Clinton-born forward boasts the highest pure faceoffs rating at 95, which is joined by his lofty 90 poise.
In defence is where O’Reilly shines, with his 93 defensive awareness, 89 shot blocking, 93 stick checking, 89 strength, 86 body checking, and 95 discipline putting him up there with some of the game’s best blueliners.
Anže Kopitar (Faceoff Score: 90.0)
Overall Rating: 90
Player Type: Two-Way Forward
Team: Los Angeles Kings
Best Attributes: 93 Stick Checking, 92 Defensive Awareness, 92 Slap Shot Power
With two Stanley Cup trophies to his name already, Anže Kopitar is presently in the middle of a rebuild with the Los Angeles Kings.
Now, the veteran’s focus will turn to helping nurture the already-mighty Quinton Byfield, leading by example if he emulates his team-best effort of last season – which included 62 points, a 15.56 shooting percentage, 56 blocked shots, and a 55.2 faceoff win percentage.
Tied with Claude Giroux for his 90.0 faceoff score, Kopitar ranks higher as a top faceoff center thanks to his 90 overall rating to Giroux’s 88 overall rating.
Despite being one of the best faceoff centers in NHL 21, the Slovenian’s 90 faceoffs and 90 poise aren’t his highest-rated attributes. Instead, it’s his 91 passing, 91 puck control, 92 defensive awareness, 93 stick checking, 92 slap shot power, and 92 wrist shot power that show Kopitar’s strengths.
All of the top faceoff centers in NHL 21
In the table below, you can see all of the best faceoff centers in NHL 21, sorted by their faceoff score. Each forward classed as a top faceoff center has attribute ratings of at least 80 poise and 85 faceoffs.
|Name||Faceoff Score||Overall||Shoots||Player Type||Age||Team||Best Attributes|
|Patrice Bergeron||94.5||91||Right||Two-Way Forward||35||Boston Bruins||95 Defensive Awareness, 95 Poise, 95 Stick Checking|
|Jonathan Toews||94.0||87||Left||Two-Way Forward||32||Chicago Blackhawks||95 Poise, 93 Faceoffs, 93 Stick Checking|
|Sidney Crosby||93.0||93||Left||Playmaker||33||Pittsburgh Penguins||95 Poise, 95 Passing, 95 Stick Checking|
|Ryan O’Reilly||92.5||89||Left||Two-Way Forward||29||St. Louis Blues||95 Faceoffs, 95 Discipline, 93 Stick Checking|
|Anže Kopitar||90.0||90||Left||Two-Way Forward||33||Los Angeles Kings||93 Stick Checking, 92 Defensive Awareness, 92 Slap Shot Power|
|Claude Giroux||90.0||88||Right||Playmaker||32||Philadelphia Flyers||94 Passing, 94 Puck Control, 93 Deking|
|Aleksander Barkov||88.5||90||Left||Two-Way Forward||25||Florida Panthers||94 Puck Control, 93 Passing, 93 Offensive Awareness|
|Jordan Staal||88.0||83||Left||Two-Way Forward||32||Carolina Hurricanes||91 Faceoffs, 90 Defensive Awareness, 90 Balance|
|Sean Couturier||87.5||88||Left||Two-Way Forward||27||Philadelphia Flyers||92 Defensive Awareness, 91 Stick Checking, 91 Endurance|
|Bo Horvat||87.5||86||Left||Two-Way Forward||25||Vancouver Canucks||91 Stick Checking, 90 Faceoffs, 89 Endurance|
|Ryan Getzlaf||87.5||85||Right||Power Forward||35||Anaheim Ducks||92 Strength, 92 Balance, 90 Poise|
|Travis Zajac||87.0||80||Right||Two-Way Forward||35||New Jersey Devils||94 Faceoffs, 89 Endurance, 86 Agility|
|Dylan Larkin||86.5||88||Left||Playmaker||24||Detroit Red Wings||94 Acceleration, 93 Speed, 92 Offensive Awareness|
|Nazem Kadri||86.5||85||Left||Two-Way Forward||29||Colorado Avalanche||90 Aggressiveness, 88 Deking, 88 Speed|
|John Tavares||86.0||89||Left||Sniper||29||Toronto Maple Leafs||93 Deking, 93 Passing, 93 Puck Control|
|Matt Duchene||86.0||87||Left||Playmaker||29||Nashville Predators||94 Speed, 93 Acceleration, 93 Agility|
|Mikko Koivu||86.0||83||Left||Two-Way Forward||37||Columbus Blue Jackets||89 Balance, 89 Strength, 88 Endurance|
|Tyler Seguin||85.5||89||Right||Playmaker||28||Dallas Stars||94 Passing, 93 Deking, 93 Puck Control|
|Paul Stastny||85.5||83||Left||Playmaker||34||Winnipeg Jets||90 Discipline, 89 Stick Checking, 88 Passing|
|J.T. Miller||85.0||86||Left||Two-Way Forward||27||Vancouver Canucks||89 Stick Checking, 89 Offensive Awareness, 88 Passing|
|Phillip Danault||85.0||84||Left||Two-Way Forward||27||Montreal Canadiens||90 Faceoffs, 89 Defensive Awareness, 88 Stick Checking|
|Adam Lowry||85.0||80||Left||Two-Way Forward||27||Winnipeg Jets||90 Faceoffs, 89 Body Checking, 89 Strength|
|Jason Spezza||83.5||80||Right||Playmaker||37||Toronto Maple Leafs||88 Durability, 87 Faceoffs, 87 Strength|
|Luke Glendening||83.5||79||Right||Two-Way Forward||31||Detroit Red Wings||88 Speed, 87 Stick Checking, 87 Faceoffs|
|Brad Richardson||83.5||78||Left||Two-Way Forward||35||Nashville Predators||88 Stick Checking, 87 Faceoffs, 86 Endurance|
|Derek Ryan||83.0||80||Right||Playmaker||33||Calgary Flames||89 Durability, 88 Deking, 87 Speed|
|Jay Beagle||83.0||79||Right||Two-Way Forward||34||Vancouver Canucks||90 Discipline, 87 Stick Checking, 87 Strength|
|Brandon Dubinsky||82.5||79||Left||Two-Way Forward||34||Columbus Blue Jackets||88 Aggressiveness, 88 Body Checking, 87 Balance|
If you want to be more dominant in the duel, acquire a couple of the top faceoff centers in NHL 21 to play on your lines.
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