Due to how the salary cap and draft system works in the NHL, teams are either contenders, approaching contender status, on the downswing, or entrenched in a rebuild. So, one of the most rewarding jobs in NHL 22 Franchise Mode is to rebuild a struggling team into a Stanley Cup favourite.
It’ll likely take several seasons, as you’ll need to develop highly-rated prospects, but the best rebuild teams are those with decent draft assets, a couple of top prospects, and value enough to trade for more potential.
Here, we’ve selected the best teams for you to rebuild in NHL 22, each of which needs a GM with the bravery to rip up what’s there, tough it out for a few seasons, and reap the rewards of developing world-class talents. A handy companion for a rebuilding team is our Franchise Mode guide – particularly the scouting tips.
1. Montréal Canadiens
The Montréal Canadiens may have made it to the Stanley Cup Finals in the new-look NHL campaign of 2021, but the offseason and the state of the team lend them heavily to being the best team to rebuild in NHL 22’s Franchise Mode. Now is the perfect time to do so, too, as veterans Jeff Petry (87 OVR), Shea Weber (86 OVR), and Carey Price (90 OVR) are all at least 33-years-old and boast decent trade value.
From there, you could even consider moving on Brendan Gallagher (85 OVR), Tyler Toffoli (85 OVR), and Mike Hoffman (84 OVR) for fair returns. With them all gone, you’ll have a lot of cap space, a decent starting goaltender in Jake Allen (84 OVR), and some strong talents to begin your rebuild around.
Nick Suzuki (85 OVR, Elite med) will be the star of the show, with Cole Caufield (83 OVR, Elite med), Christian Dvorak (83 OVR, Top 6 med), and Alexander Romanov (79 OVR, Top 4 med) all set to be core members of the future lines. To help pad this out, you start with a first and second-round pick in 2022, as well as three third-round and two fourth-round selections.
2. Buffalo Sabres
A perpetually rebuilding team, the Buffalo Sabres need a GM who can make big calls, pick well in the draft, and convince top talents to stay put. Having said that, to fund your rebuild, your first move should be to grant Jack Eichel (91 OVR) his wish and trade away the 24-year-old center. You already have ample cap space, but you should be able to get a couple of high picks and a top prospect of the same Elite med potential from the trade.
You’ll be left with Dylan Cozens (82 OVR, Elite med), Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (76 OVR, Elite med) and Rasmus Dahlin (85 OVR, Elite med) to build around. Others like Will Butcher (82 OVR, Top 4 med), Casey Mittelstadt (77 OVR, Top 6 med), and Victor Olofsson (85 OVR, Top 6 med) will need top-line minutes to increase their overalls and bring their trade values more in line with their potential.
With just three core prospects, you’ll want as many first-to-third round selections over the next few drafts to pad the team, and luckily, you’ll start with two first-round picks. In 2023, you also start with two second-rounders. Shifting Eichel – especially if done early – could enable you to craft your future top lines in the next two drafts.
3. Seattle Kraken
It’s tough to knock a new major league team for wanting to ensure financial security, given the last couple of years and how they’ve impacted sports. Still, it was disappointing to see the Seattle Kraken pass on just about every elite-tier talent of the 2021 Expansion Draft. In NHL 22, they’ve got nearly $10 million in cap space and a rather mediocre team, so they can be one of the more fun of the best teams to rebuild in Franchise Mode.
Philipp Grubauer (87 OVR) is well worth keeping at 29-years-old, as are Vince Dunn (82 OVR, Top 4 med), Jared McCann (83 OVR, Top 6 med), Haydn Fleury (80 OVR, Elite med), and Kole Lind (76 OVR, Top 6 med). Most of the Kraken’s best players have fair trade value, will be in their 30s this season, and have hit their potential, capping out between 86 and 82 overall. So, trade away as many as you see fit for prospects and picks.
Likely because the Vegas Golden Knights worked the expansion draft and subsequent trades so well, the Kraken haven’t ended up with a glistening haul of draft picks. In 2022, Seattle have all of their own picks, plus a fourth-rounder, with a bonus second and fourth-round selection in 2023. It’s a tough rebuild given the roster, but that comes with the added novelty of building a brand new franchise.
4. Los Angeles Kings
The Los Angeles Kings have hit the bottom after slowly sinking back down from Stanley Cup triumphs in 2012 and 2014, so they’re one of the best teams to rebuild. With the Cup-winning side’s core – Anže Kopitar (90 OVR), Drew Doughty (87 OVR), Dustin Brown (82 OVR), and Jonathan Quick (82 OVR) – still on the roster and well into their 30s, now’s the perfect time to rip away the franchise legends to build for the future.
Luckily for an incoming Franchise Mode manager, the foundations of the rebuild are already in place. Quinton Byfield (78 OVR, Elite med), Brandt Clarke (73 OVR, Elite med), Alex Turcotte (77 OVR, Elite med), and Arthur Kaliyev (77 OVR, Top 6 med) are all very good prospects in NHL 22. Still, you can add several more lofty picks or Elite-tier prospects to stack the rest of the top-six by moving on the Cup-winners.
In 2022, the Kings have their picks for the first two rounds, but aren’t set to feature in the seventh round. The second season’s draft currently sees LA get a bonus fourth-round selection. So, it’s not the best situation for a speedier rebuild, but you have the chips to quickly make the Kings the stars of the show in subsequent drafts.
5. Chicago Blackhawks
Finally, the Chicago Blackhawks round off the list of the best teams to rebuild in NHL 22. Similarly to the Kings, the Blackhawks are on the downswing from their dynastic Stanley Cup success, winning in 2010, 2013, and 2015. Still, the side’s over-30s – Jonathan Toews (86 OVR), Patrick Kane (92 OVR), Marc-André Fleury (90 OVR), and Tyler Johnson (83 OVR) – boast a good amount of trade value, particularly the right-wing sniper.
The good thing about rebuilding the Blackhawks is that the talent – at least, the forward talent – is already well-established. Alex DeBrincat (88 OVR, Elite med), Kirby Dach (83 OVR, Top 6 high), Dominik Kubalík (84 OVR, Top 6 high), and Dylan Strome (83 OVR, Top 6 med) can already be solid performers in the NHL, with Alexander Nylander (78 OVR, Top 6 med) and Nicolas Beaudin (76 OVR, Top 4 med) on the way through.
If you plan to rebuild through the draft, goaltenders and defensemen will need to be prioritised. However, to do that, you’ll want to trade away the valuable veterans to bolster your selection options. The Blackhawks are without their first-round pick in 2022, but do have three third-rounders and two six-rounders. In 2023, Chicago have a bonus second-round pick and all of their other selections.
6. Arizona Coyotes
Another perpetually rebuilding team, just as the Arizona Coyotes look to have a solid prospect pool, a new general manager comes in to rip it all up and start again. What makes the Yotes rank so lowly here is that there’s very little value in the organisation, but their collection of draft picks gives them a deserving nod.
There are some decent young skaters in Arizona already, with Dylan Guenther (73 OVR, Elite med), Jakob Chychrun (85 OVR, Elite med), Victor Söderström (77 OVR, Top 4 high), and a downgraded Clayton Keller (84 OVR, Elite low) headlining the team’s potential stars.
You won’t have much trade leverage with the low-rated, high-paid players on the NHL lines, but the Yotes do give you the best collection of starting draft picks for 2022. As the new GM, you’ll get to play with three first-round picks, five second-rounders, and the usual third, fourth, fifth, and sixth-round picks. You’ll need to endure a relatively trying and dull opening campaign, but can essentially build a new team in the first summer.
Those are our picks for the best teams to rebuild in NHL 22’s Franchise Mode: which will you choose to tear apart and build back up into a Stanley Cup contender?