On NHL 22, Franchise Mode is the best way for you to select a team, mould it in your image, and take it to glory, or even completely re-franchise, or see how the league would shake out in the aftermath of a fantasy draft.
So, to help you get started, utilise the key features, and even refine your approach, we’ve assembled ten tips and tricks for you to use in Franchise Mode on NHL 22.
1. Build your optimised scouting team
Scouting is a huge part of building a long-standing, successful, and competitive team in Franchise Mode – both on the ice and in trade negotiations. To achieve the optimal results, you’ll need to assemble the best scouting crew by doing the following:
- Go to the Owner Tab and select the Operations Budget. Here, push the Scout Salaries and Scout Travel to the maximum.
- Get a pen and paper and write a list of all of the scouting destinations (WHL, OHL, QMJHL, SHL, Liiga, Allsvenskan, USA West, USA Central, USA East, DEL, NLA, Extraliga, Ice, Russia, and Rest of the World).
- Go to the Team Management tab, Upgrade Your Team, and then select Assign Scout.
- Press L3 on the RE column to sort the scouts by their Region Efficiency, and make a note of all regions covered by scouts with at least an A- rating in the RE column.
- Now, you can see where you’re lacking quality scouting for this initial set-up. Next, press Options/Menu to bring up the Hire Scouts page.
- Press L3 on the OVR column and then work down from the top until you find a scout in a region that you need filling, and then press R3 to ensure that they’re at least an A in a destination that you need scouting.
- Once you have 20 scouts, you’ll then need to fire some. Check your scouts with less than an A- for their current RE just in case they’re better anywhere else that you need filling. If not, press Square/X to fire them.
- If you want to fully commit to building through the draft, opt to fire all but two of your pro scouts as well, leaving the highest possible OVR scout for NHL scouting and one for AHL scouting.
- Next, return to the Hire Scouts page to plug the gaps on your list of scouting regions so that you have one A-grade scout for each scouting destination. Then, get one more for the WHL, OHL, and QMJHL.
- Return to the scouting page and press Triangle/Y to send your scouts to their optimum regions. It may take them one day to move – adjusting your scout budgets earlier will facilitate these moves.
- You should end up with two pro scouts, one scout in each non-CHL destination, and two scouts in the WHL, OHL, and QMJHL.
By following the above, you’ll have an optimised scouting team that can cover all scouting destinations effectively. It works best if you have the Fog of War option off, which will cover for your lack of pro scouting with this method.
At the start of each season, it’s a good idea to review your scouting team and see if there are any scouts available for hire who have a better overall grade than your existing batch.
2. How to scout efficiently in NHL 22
The best way to increase in value and have more funds at your disposal is to scout effectively, bringing in the most valuable players in the Entry Draft each year. Here’s how to best scout efficiently:
- With your scouting optimised (as shown above), press X/A on a scout and then again on Find Prospects.
- To get started, once scouts are in their destination of choice, set their Duration to 5 Months and then press Options/Menu to confirm.
- If scouting started on Day One, return to the Assign Scout page towards the middle of February.
- Select a scout and this time choose Scout Specific Players.
- As the Entry Draft is at the end of June, you’ll want to keep an eye on the Estimated Date shown under the Assigned Players list on the right, which gives you time to scout around 18 players.
- First, sort by CS Ranking (L3), select the top player, and then pick Potential and Comparison, and do the same for each of the top 12.
- Next, sort by Scout Rank (L3) and scout the next six players not already added to the Assigned Players list for Potential and Comparison. If you have two scouts in the same region, make a note of who you’re already scouting so that you don’t waste time and can maximise your scouting coverage.
- When you’re done with a scout’s assignments, press Menu/Options to confirm and do the same with the next amateur scout on your list.
- Return to the scouting screen in mid-May just to double-check on players (R3 to see bio and scout reports) and give any late assignments that you want to run.
This method, spread across all of the scouting destinations, will give you a good read of the draft class, highlight high-potential picks, and help you to maximise even late-round selections.
Above is very much a first season approach, giving you a wide-spanning view of the class and potential. As you progress in Franchise Mode, refine the approach to target positions that you need to fill in Step 2 by changing the Position or Playing Style option.
3. Time your draft pick signings
Once you’ve selected your prospects from the Entry Draft, you’ll have three years to decide as to whether or not you want to sign them to an entry-level contract. If you don’t sign them immediately, or even prior to the second or third season, they’ll still develop by playing with their junior or minor side.
As such, it’s best to wait until your prospects are at least a 68 with their overall rating – unless you’re willing to risk them in your top-six and can force them to have a productive season. That said, if they’re approaching their third year of being on your books and have fair potential, sign them up and use them to fill your AHL lines or as trade chips.
4. Attack the free agency immediately
From the very first day of the season – even after the opening of the free agency window at the end of a campaign – go to Team Management, Manage Contracts, and then select Free Agents. Next, hold RT and select Affordable to show all of the players who you could add to your lines.
The free agency is another way that you can add value to your team without losing anything. It’s best to check your lines for gaps first, and to make sure that a signing won’t block any young skater who you want to get valuable minutes, but you can almost always improve via the opening free agency.
The key areas to look at on the Free Agents screen are:
- TI column: indicates the number of teams that are interested in signing that player – can lead to paying more than they’re worth.
- Cap Space: in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen.
- CON column: shows if they’re a restricted free agent (RFAT) and require compensation in the form of draft picks to their team, or a completely free unrestricted free agent (UFA).
- POT column: if you’re looking for a player who’ll increase in value, pick one of the top potential players.
Also, if you’re looking for a new goaltender, one to play in your AHL, or as your back-up, be sure to hold L2/LT to change from All Skaters to Goalies.
5. Build around your prospects in the AHL
After you’ve signed young draftees to your team, you won’t always be able to add them to your NHL lines straight away. To make sure that they have the best chance of developing in the AHL, bring in players around them who are strong but also aren’t of a high enough overall rating in the same position that your prospect will lose minutes.
To see how your AHL lines will run, go to Team Management, Manage Rosters, Edit Lines, press Menu/Options, Triangle/Y, and then pick Best Lines. From here, both clear the path for your top prospects to get plenty of minutes, and add strong players in the positions next to them – either via trading or the free agency.
6. Get maximum trade value by trickling in draft picks
Getting extra draft picks years ahead of time can all but guarantee you a healthy stream of young talents to either work into your team or trade on for even more valuable assets. To trade for draft picks, go to Team Management, Upgrade Your Team, Propose Trade, Add Item, and then press L2/LT to find Draft Picks.
You should always try to pad out a trade with a few picks – even ones for the fifth, sixth, or seventh round. Your initial offer should exceed what you think the other teaaam will accept; otherwise, the other team will just accept, and the trade will go through without a prompt to confirm or negotiate further.
So, once the trade looks balanced, add a high pick and then gradually reduce it by a round until they accept. This way, you can make sure that you’re squeezing as much out of a deal as possible – especially as even seventh round picks can uncover Elite-potential players.
7. Adjust the initial settings for a better beginner’s experience
If you’re new to Franchise Mode, adjust the set-up options before starting so that you can get to grips with the fundamentals before expanding to include other factors. We advise using the set-up shown above, which:
- Removes the cumbersome Player Morale and Fog of War features;
- Keeps it as a realistic NHL experience with the Salary Cap and CPU Trades;
- Gives you a hand with owner goals, budgets, line optimisation, and staff management when needed.
8. Utilise trade block information for good deals
While you can trade for pretty much any player or asset in NHL 22, if you have the cap space and trade value, you can usually get trade block players cheaper than their value – especially if returning something that meets their team’s needs.
You can tell if one of your players is one that the other team needs as they’ll be in green, while a player who they want to trade away is in red. As mentioned, you don’t have to play to the trade blocks, but they do hold significantly more weight in negotiations.
9. Appease your owner for cash rewards
If you’re playing with Owner Mode on, you’ll want to make the most of the money put on offer by your team’s owner. Go to Owner, Owner Negotiation, and then Owner Goals to see what they want you to achieve. There are decent-sized rewards that you can earn throughout the season and then flip into the Marketing and Budget tile of the Owner tab.
It’s also good to know that some Owner Goals can change based on the ability of your team as you approach a new season. So, if you start with the aim of getting to the Stanley Cup Finals but then trade away your three highest-rated players, the Owner Goal can adapt to reflect the new direction of your team.
10. Know when to commit to the rebuild
After editing your lines and rosters, you’ll likely have a good idea of what state your team’s in, with an Owner Goal prompt potentially telling you even more. Still, the best way to view your team’s ability against its value is on the trade screen.
Under Team Management, Upgrade Your Team, and then Propose Trade, select to add an asset from your team and then sort your players by OVR. This shows their game day value, so check that against their Age and Trade Value.
You’ll want to start your rebuild just before or just as your star players greatly decline in value, which is usually around 32 or 33 years of age. While their overall ratings may be serviceable, their trade values start to plummet, and yet they cost the same to your salary cap.
So, when you spot this trend, commit to a big rebuild that season. You’ll still want to get the best possible returns for the players, but shift them on before they can’t earn you some good picks and prospects. If you then need to top-up your salary to not drop below the floor, offer some one-year deals to free agents.
Hopefully, these NHL 22 Franchise Mode tips and tricks will help you to master the game mode and forge a dynasty for your team.