(Photo Credit: EA Sports NHL, via Twitter)
Everyone on Franchise Mode wants to bring through some of the best young talent and develop them into world-class stars of their team. As it goes for centers, there are already a few superstar players who are also under the age of 21. To compile this list of best young centers for Franchise Mode on NHL 19, the players in question have had to have a minimum potential of three-and-a-half stars and are subsequently ranked by current overall ability. You may also notice some rather dubious choices for centers on EA Sports’ behalf.
Connor McDavid (OVR 94, Franchise med POT)
Age: 21Nationality: CanadianRole: PlaymakerDrafted: Edmonton Oilers, 2015 (1)Height: 185cmWeight: 87kgShoots: LeftBest Stats: Offensive Awareness 97, Acceleration 97, Agility 97
Rated as the best player in NHL 19, Connor McDavid obviously tops the ranks for best young center and best young player in the game. After posting 100 points two seasons ago, he finished the 2017/18 campaign with 108 points. He’s already the star of the Edmonton Oilers and the face of the franchise.
Auston Matthews (OVR 89, Elite high POT)
Age: 20Nationality: AmericanRole: PlaymakerDrafted: Toronto Maple Leafs, 2016 (1)Height: 191cmWeight: 98kgShoots: LeftBest Stats: Offensive Awareness 92, Deking 92, Passing 92
Following in the footsteps of McDavid, Auston Matthews was drafted first overall to a legendary Canadian franchise and looks to bring them back from years of heartache to postseason glory. Now that he’s got John Tavares in the team, that task just became much easier.
Jack Eichel (OVR 87, Elite high POT)
Age: 21Nationality: AmericanRole: PlaymakerDrafted: Buffalo Sabres, 2015 (2)Height: 188cmWeight: 93kgShoots: RightBest Stats: Deking 92, Hand-Eye 92, Wrist Shot Accuracy 91
If not for McDavid, Jack Eichel may well have the tag of a first-overall selection. His team, the Buffalo Sabres, have been in turmoil for a number of years with many rebuild attempts failing to materialize. But now, with Eichel developing very well and the addition of this year’s first-overall pick, Rasmus Dahlin, there is renewed hope in Buffalo.
Mathew Barzal (85 OVR, Elite med POT)
Age: 21Nationality: CanadianRole: PlaymakerDrafted: New York Islanders, 2015 (16)Height: 183cmWeight: 86kgShoots: RightBest Stats: Deking 92, Passing 92, Puck Control 92
Mathew Barzal has been thrust into being the New York Islanders’ new talisman at center following the departure of superstar John Tavares. He left because the Isles didn’t build him a team worthy of challenging for the postseason consistently, but perhaps they can make the most of Barzal and his emergence as a top center.
Nico Hischier (84 OVR, Elite med POT)
Age: 19Nationality: SwissRole: Two-Way ForwardDrafted: New Jersey Devils, 2017 (1)Height: 185cmWeight: 79kgShoots: LeftBest Stats: Deking 90, Acceleration 90, Speed 90
Despite only entering the league last season, Hischier managed to play all 82 games and tally 20 goals and 52 points – good for second among New Jersey Devils players. The Swiss center has proven himself to be very mature for his age with high hockey IQ and blistering pace. He and the young Devils look set to be real playoff contenders over the next few years.
Pierre-Luc Dubois (83 OVR, Elite med POT
Age: 20Nationality: CanadianRole: Power ForwardDrafted: Columbus Blue Jackets, 2016 (3)Height: 191cmWeight: 94kgShoots: LeftBest Stats: Slap Shot Power 88, Defensive Awareness 87, Offensive Awareness 87
Quietly compared to other names on this list, Pierre-Luc Dubois has developed into a solid center who can play in all phases of the game and at either end of the ice. He made his NHL debut last season and played all 82 games, scoring 20 goals and 48 points from center and on the wing. He’s expected to go even bigger this season.
Alex DeBrincat (83 OVR, Top 6 med POT)
Age: 20Nationality: AmericanRole: SniperDrafted: Chicago Blackhawks, 2016 (39)Height: 170cmWeight: 75kgShoots: RightBest Stats: Discipline 95, Deking 93, Speed 92
Alex DeBrincat almost came out of nowhere for the Chicago Blackhawks last season. Having been given the nod in preseason as a teenager, DeBrincat ended up playing all 82 games, tallying 28 goals and 52 points. He spent almost all of last season on the wing, only engaging in 59 faceoffs, and is expected to play out wide again this season.
Travis Konecny (82 OVR, Top 6 med POT)
Age: 21Nationality: CanadianRole: Two-Way ForwardDrafted: Philadelphia Flyers, 2015 (24)Height: 178cmWeight: 79kgShoots: RightBest Stats: Deking 88, Acceleration 88, Speed 88
Another peculiar addition at center from EA Sports in NHL 19, Travis Konecny has played very, very little time at center or even in the faceoff circle. In any case, Philadelphia has been waiting a long time for the talented forward to breakout for the Flyers. After a relatively tame first season which displayed glimpses of his talent, Konecny broke out for 24 goals and 47 points last season.
Nolan Patrick (80 OVR, Elite med POT)
Age: 19Nationality: CanadianRole: Power ForwardDrafted: Philadelphia Flyers, 2017 (2)Height: 188cmWeight: 90kgShoots: RightBest Stats: Slap Shot Power 87, Wrist Shot Power 87, Balance 87
As a rookie last season, Nolan Patrick proved himself to be a very valuable two-way center – less a power forward as EA describes – putting up a positive faceoff win percentage through over 700 duels, a positive rating, and 30 points. Now more familiar with the NHL, Patrick will certainly exceed the stats of his rookie season.
Anthony Beauvillier (80 OVR, Top 6 low POT)
Age: 21Nationality: CanadianRole: Two-Way ForwardDrafted: New York Islanders, 2015 (28)Height: 180cmWeight: 82kgShoots: LeftBest Stats: Acceleration 87, Agility 87, Speed 87
Taken just 12 picks back of teammate Mathew Barzal, Anthony Beauvillier broke into the team two seasons ago and built on a decent showing of 24 points by scoring 21 goals and 36 points last season. Commonly found on the wing, Beauvillier can play at center as well, and may be needed there following Tavares’ departure.