(Image Source: EA Sports)
When starting off a new Franchise Mode, you’ll most probably have a goal in mind – usually to win the Stanley Cup within x-number of years. You can go about this in many different ways, such as with the best team available or by ripping up a team on the way down and then rebuilding them into a winning unit. Whatever your plan is, these are the best and worst teams to manage.
NHL 19 Best Team: Tampa Bay Lightning
OFF: 93 - DEF: 95 - GOA: 92
With the 88-rated Andrei Vasilevskiy in net as well as Steven Stamkos (91), Victor Hedman (91), Nikita Kucherov (91), and Ryan McDonagh (87) skating around, Tampa Bay Lightning is the best team on NHL 19.
The Bolts have a great amount of depth with Tyler Johnson (83), Ondrej Palat (84), and Brayden Point (85) in the top nine, as well as top young defenseman Mikhail Sergachev (84) and Anton Stralman (84) in the top four.
Best of all, from a long-term Franchise Mode perspective, the average age of the ten best players in the team is 26.2-years-old, so there’s plenty of years of success ahead.
NHL 19 Worst Team: New York Islanders
OFF: 91 - DEF: 90 - GOA: 88
With John Tavares gone for nothing in return, a very shallow prospect pool, and only five picks in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, the New York Islanders are the worst team in NHL 19’s Franchise Mode.
Mathew Barzal (85) is the new star of the show at 21-years-old, while the likes of Nick Leddy (84), Josh Bailey (85), Jordan Eberle (85), and Anders Lee (84) have all reached their potential. The best goalie on the roster, with no real replacement on the way, is the Buffalo castaway Robin Lehner (83), who is one of the lowest rated starting goaltenders in the game.
The best course of action for this team is to rip it up for the little value that’s there and start all over again, but, if you do go down this route, be sure to keep Josh Ho-Sang (78) and play him in a top-six role – preferably the top line – as he quickly ups his rating beyond 85 overall despite his starting value and he’s a very speedy skater.
NHL 19 Best Sleeper Team: Philadelphia Flyers
OFF: 92 - DEF: 89 - GOA: 87
The Philadelphia Flyers have something very special brewing right now. With so many young stars playing top-class hockey alongside some seasoned greats, this team is almost ready to boom into a Stanley Cup run.
Claude Giroux (89), Jakub Voracek (88), Wayne Simmonds (86), and James van Riemsdyk (84) headline the team’s veterans while the incredibly youthful defense continues to improve with the likes of Shayne Gostisbehere (86) and Ivan Provorov (84) having already broken through.
There is but one reason why this team can’t go all the way in the first season of Franchise Mode on NHL 19: the goaltenders. Neither Brian Elliott (82) or Michal Neuvirth (81) play up to their in-game billing as starters and need to be replaced. But, with Carter Hart (70) being so highly rated and on his way up, you’ll only want a temporary filler, but one that can keep net for a Stanley Cup run.
Ben Bishop (85) of the Dallas Stars isn’t too highly valued and can be brought in rather cheaply, and Carter Hutton (82) shoots up in rating and value over the course of a couple of seasons. But, it’s hard not to take advantage of the incredibly low trade value placed on Pekka Rinne (89) or Henrik Lundqvist (88). Trading away the current goalies and a higher pick would go a long way towards taking the Flyers from sleepers to champions.
NHL 19 Best Team to Rebuild: Montreal Canadiens
OFF: 90 - DEF: 89 - GOA: 96
In NHL 19 and in real life, the Montreal Canadiens are in desperate need of tearing up the team and going for a full rebuild – staff and all. In the game, the Habs happen to have many high-value players who make for perfect trade bait to bring in top prospects and lofty draft picks.
The team begins with ten picks in the upcoming draft – including four in the first three rounds – as well as players primed for big trades. Jonathan Drouin (84), Shea Weber (87), and Carey Price (92) can all be shipped off for huge returns, such as a few picks in the first two rounds and some prospects. Then, there are many others like Brendan Gallagher (84) and Max Domi (82) who can garner some picks and prospects.
Montreal already boasts a fair few decent young players to keep around, including Jesperi Kotkaniemi (66), Noah Juulsen (78), Nick Suzuki (67), Jesse Ylonen (62), Victor Mete (79), Nikita Scherbak (76), and William Bitten (63), but you’ll want to collect plenty of picks for the next couple of drafts.
In 2019, there are five very strong prospects headlining the class, but in 2020, the mighty Alexis Lafreniere enters the draft with Elite high potential. There has also been a defenseman pop up with Franchise medium potential as well, so it’s well worth trading for as many early 2020 first rounders as you can or trading up for a very high price on the day.
NHL 19 Best Prospect Pool: Buffalo Sabres
OFF: 91 - DEF: 91 - GOA: 87
The Buffalo Sabres have been rebuilding for years, but have seen very little return on the ice. But, on NHL 19, their team is buzzing with highly rated prospects and great young stars.
Rasmus Dahlin (82), Casey Mittelstadt (79), Alex Nylander (75), and Brendan Guhle (76) headline the rookie skaters while the immensely talented Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (66) is set to develop into one of the best goaltenders in the league. With Jack Eichel (87), Rasmus Ristolainen (86), and Sam Reinhart (83) already in the NHL lines, there’s a lot of young talent ready to emerge in Buffalo.