Arguably the most important player on the ice, centers do a bit of everything while being the main link in your offence.
Finding a great young center that you can build around is tantamount to sustained success. So, could one of these featured players be your Connor McDavid or Anže Kopitar?
Choosing NHL 22’s best young centers
This page will look at the best up-and-coming centers in NHL 22, with Jack Hughes, Quinton Byfield, and Trevor Zegras making an appearance. Each is ranked primarily based on their potential grade, but also their overall rating and age.
At the bottom of the page, you will find the full list of all of the best young centers in NHL 22.
Jack Hughes, 84 OVR (Elite High)
Team: New Jersey Devils
Best Attributes: 93 Deking, 92 Acceleration, 92 Agility
The only player with Elite high potential on this list – before a bevvy of Elite med talent – Jack Hughes has some top-class ratings with still more potential to fulfil.
Hughes has an amazing deking ability at 93, and when combined with his acceleration and agility of 92, he will be difficult to stop when he has the puck. He also has 90 speed, so he can zoom around defenders while looking for wings with his passing of 88.
During the 2020/21 season for the Devils, Hughes had 20 assists and 11 goals in 56 games, with one on the powerplay and one being a game-winner. During the 2019/20 season, he played in 61 games with 14 assists and seven goals, four on the powerplay and two game-winners.
Tim Stützle, 84 OVR (Elite Med)
Team: Ottawa Senators
Best Attributes: 90 Deking, 90 Agility, 90 Speed
The 2020 third-overall pick, Tim Stützle equals Hughes in overall rating, but none of his ratings hit the peaks of Hughes’. However, he is a year younger.
He has great speed with 90 in all three speed ratings, pairing those with 90 in deking. He is an adept playmaker with 88 in passing and puck control and 87 in hand-eye. He also has an 86 in offensive awareness, meaning that he should be able to find the open or cutting skater for a shot.
In 2020/21, Stützle played 53 games with Ottawa to score 17 assists and 12 goals, four on the powerplay and two game winners. During the 2019/20 season for Adler Mannheim, Stützle had 27 assists and seven goals in 41 games.
Trevor Zegras, 82 OVR (Elite Med)
Team: Anaheim Ducks
Best Attributes: 89 Deking, 88 Passing, 88 Puck Control
Trevor Zegras makes an appearance on this list as the 2019 ninth-overall pick has solid all-around skills, but for the purposes of these rankings, it’s his Elite med potential that makes him one of the best young centers.
Another Playmaker, he has 89 deking, 88 in all speed categories, and 88 passing, puck control, and offensive awareness. He is already a good center – with the ability to play left wing as well – in terms of setting up the offense, and should only improve over the next couple of seasons.
In 24 games for Anaheim during the 2020/21 season, Zegras had ten assists and three goals. In 17 games for the San Diego Gulls, he had 11 assists and ten goals in 17 games, adding two assists and one goal in three playoff games.
Dylan Cozens, 82 OVR (Elite Med)
Team: Buffalo Sabres
Type: Two-Way Forward
Best Attributes: 87 Deking, 87 Speed, 87 Slap Shot Power
With the uncertainty surrounding Jack Eichel’s status and future with Buffalo, the Sabres may hope that Dylan Cozens can become what they hoped Eichel would be, should the latter depart. The seventh pick in 2019, Cozens is worth acquiring from the Sabres – further thwarting Buffalo’s success in NHL 22.
The first Two-Way Forward on the list, Cozens has many ratings in the mid-to-upper 80s. He has an 87 in deking, all three speed categories, and slap shot power. He has an 86 in hand-eye, passing, puck control, defensive awareness, stick checking, offensive awareness, wrist shot accuracy, and wrist shot power. He also brings the ability to switch to right wing.
In 41 games with Buffalo during the 2020/21 season, Cozens had nine assists and four goals, one of which came on a powerplay. With Lethbridge in 2019/20, he had 47 assists and 38 goals in 51 games.
Alex Newhook, 79 OVR (Elite Med)
Team: Colorado Avalanche
Best Attributes: 90 Acceleration, 90 Agility, 90 Speed
Yet another Playmaker, 2019 first-rounder Alex Newhook is well-rated in many skills, but some others are in need of improvement. That said, the 20-year-old’s Elite med potential indicates that his attributes will soon perk up.
Newhook is the only other player apart from Hughes and Stützle with a 90 rating in any skill here, having that in all three speed ratings. He also has 88 deking and an 87 for both shot power ratings. His other offensive skills are in the mid-80s, but he will need to work on his defensive game and faceoffs prowess.
Newhook played six games with the Avalanche in 2020/21, yielding three assists and adding one goal and one assist in eight playoff games. In 12 games for Boston College, he had nine assists and seven goals. In 2019/20, he had 23 assists and 19 goals.
Quinton Byfield, 78 OVR (Elite Med)
Team: Los Angeles Kings
Type: Power Forward
Best Attributes: 88 Balance, 87 Slap Shot Power, 87 Wrist Shot Power
Quinton Byfield stands out at 6’4’’ as a tall center. The second-overall pick in 2020 can fill the potential that matches his height, with the Power Forward boasting an Elite med potential.
For his height, having an 88 in balance is needed on the ice. Byfield also packs a punch in shot power with an 87 in both shot power ratings. He also has good speed with 85 in acceleration and speed, and an 84 in agility. He will need to improve his faceoffs rating of 77, but his other skills are enough to keep him on the ice as he develops into his lofty potential.
In six games with the Kings in 2020/21, Byfield tallied one assist. In 32 games with the Ontario Reign, he has 12 assists and eight goals. In 2019/20 with the Sudbury Wolves, he had 50 assists and 32 goals.
Alex Turcotte, 77 OVR (Elite Med)
Team: Los Angeles Kings
Best Attributes: 88 Agility, 87 Acceleration, 87 Speed
Another King of Los Angeles – though he has yet to see ice time with the pro team – Alex Turcotte will take the most development of the featured players on this list, but he is still a worthy acquisition.
He has great speed with 88 agility, 87 acceleration, and 87 speed. Turcotte also has good passing and puck control at 85. His stick checking and wrist shot power are both 86. To bolster him as a key piece in your lines, you will need to focus his development on the offensive side and faceoffs.
During 2020/21 with the Ontario Reign, Turcotte had 15 assists and six goals in 32 games. With the University of Wisconsin in 2019/20, he had 17 assists and nine goals in 29 games.
All the best young centers in NHL 22
In the table below, you’ll find all of the best young centers in NHL 22, sorted by their potentials.
|Jack Hughes||Elite High||84||20||Center||Playmaker||New Jersey Devils|
|Tim Stützle||Elite Med||84||19||Center/Left Wing||Playmaker||Ottawa Senators|
|Trevor Zegras||Elite Med||82||20||Center/Left Wing||Playmaker||Anaheim Ducks|
|Dylan Cozens||Elite Med||82||20||Center/Right Wing||Two-Way Forward||Buffalo Sabres|
|Alex Newhook||Elite Med||79||20||Center||Playmaker||Colorado Avalanche|
|Quinton Byfield||Elite Med||78||19||Center||Power Forward||Los Angeles Kings|
|Alex Turcotte||Elite Med||77||20||Center||Playmaker||Los Angeles Kings|
|Cole Perfetti||Elite Med||74||19||Center||Playmaker||Winnipeg Jets|
|William Eklund||Elite Med||73||18||Center/Left Wing||Two-Way Forward||San Jose Sharks|
|Anton Lundell||Elite Med||70||10||Center||Two-Way Forward||Florida Panthers|
|Jesperi Kotkaniemi||Elite Low||82||21||Center/Left Wing||Playmaker||Carolina Hurricanes|
|Nicholas Robertson||Elite Low||74||20||Center/Left Wing||Playmaker||Toronto Maple Leafs|
|Aatu Räty||Elite Low||67||18||Center||Two-Way Forward||New York Islanders|
|Kirby Dach||Top 6 F High||83||19||Center/Right Wing||Playmaker||Chicago Blackhawks|
|Mason McTavish||Top 6 F High||71||20||Center||Power Forward||Anaheim Ducks|
If you want to ensure that your first line will be orchestrated by one of the best players in NHL 22 down the line, be sure to acquire one of the best young centers listed above.