One of the more enjoyable tasks you could accomplish in Franchise mode is completing a successful rebuild. Building a roster from the ground up can be rather tedious, but in the end, it can have a big pay off if it’s done right. If you’re looking to take on a project in NHL 21’s Franchise mode, you might be wondering which teams would be the best to rebuild in this year’s game. Here are five teams you might want to consider trying to reconstruct in NHL 21.
New York Rangers
The New York Rangers are arguably the easiest team to rebuild on this list because there honestly isn’t much to do here. Even though the Rangers haven’t made the NHL playoffs in each of the past three seasons, there’s a ton of talent on this roster. LW Artemi Panarin was a Hart Trophy finalist in 2019-20, and C Mika Zibanejad and LW Chris Kreider beef up the Blueshirts’ top six. But what’s the most appealing about this team is that the Rangers are filled with young talent.
G Igor Shesterkin has the chance to be something special, as does young defenseman Adam Fox. Oh, and did we mention Kaapo Kakko and the top pick from the 2020 Draft, LW Alexis Lafreniere. The Rangers are a bit weak down the middle at the moment, so it might take another season or two to get this team ready for prime-time. But other than that, the Rangers would be a great pick for those who want to play around with many different assets.
Detroit Red Wings
We go from one of the easiest teams to rebuild to arguably the hardest. The Detroit Red Wings were the worst team in NHL last season by a healthy mile, thanks to the fact that their starting roster is pretty barren. Yes, there are a few building blocks here in C Dylan Larkin, LW Anthony Mantha, D Filip Hronek, and RW Tyler Bertuzzi.
Outside of those players, though, there’s a lot of room for improvement. And it’s going to take some time to fix, too, as outside of D Moritz Seider and LW Lucas Raymond, there’s not many impact talents that are sitting in the prospect pool.
The Ottawa Senators, much like the Detroit Red Wings, were pretty bad in 2019-20. The good news about the Senators is that unlike Detroit, Ottawa should be easier to rebuild. The Senators have a decent amount of young talent on their roster, as D Thomas Chabot and LW Brady Tkachuk can become stars in the near future. New acquisitions Matt Murray and Evgenii Dadonov are also solid building blocks and potential trading assets should you attempt to further break this roster down.
The Senators also have a slew of prospects that can be future studs, including D Erik Brannstrom and Tim Stuzle. You can also add defensemen Jake Sanderson and Jacob Bernard-Docker to that list if you decide to add them into the game via NHL 21’s Creation Suite (since the two are NCAA players and thus are not in this year’s game). In short, Ottawa won’t be the hardest team to re-build, thanks to the numbers of assets they have, but the team still needs some work and time before becoming a legitimate contender once again.
Los Angeles Kings
The Los Angeles Kings have had a lot of pain over the past few seasons, but that has led to some high draft picks over the past two years. The big prize for the Kings came in October when Los Angeles drafted C Quinton Byfield with the second overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. The power forward centerman has the potential to form a strong 1-2 punch down the middle alongside Anze Kopitar, and with Gabe Vilardi and Rasmus Kupari also in the fold, you should be just fine in terms of centermen.
The Kings also have other young studs in the fold, including forwards Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Arthur Kaliyev, defensemen Tobias Bjornfoot and Sean Durzi, and goaltender Cal Petersen. Couple those prospects with a veteran core that should hold up for a few more seasons, and you should be able to bring the Kings back to relevance pretty quickly.
The Blackhawks are the only team on this list that made the NHL playoffs last season, but there are a few reasons why you may want to re-construct this team. One, the current core Chicago needs some work. The Blackhawks do have two superstars in Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, but players like Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook may not be what this team needs at the moment. Second, Chicago desperately needs goaltending in the worst way. Malcolm Subban and Colin Delia will most likely not get in done, especially in the Central Division. Considering those two points, it might be wise to get to work with the Hawks’ roster.
The good news with the Hawks is that there’s a lot of assets to work with. C Kirby Dach, RW Alex Nylander, and D Adam Boqvist should be future pillars of this team, as should Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome. However, the depth of the Central Division won’t do this team any favors. It’s going to be a grind to get this team back to the top, and it might mean moving one of the big guns on this team to fortify the Blackhawks’ future.