The Rangers celebrate (Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)
For the first time since the 2004-05 lockout, the Toronto Maple Leafs aren’t the most valuable franchise in the NHL. According to Forbes’ annual rankings, the Maple Leafs have fallen to third place behind the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens.
After making the post-season only once in the past decade, the Toronto Maple Leafs have officially fallen out of the top spot on Forbes NHL team valuations.
The Maple Leafs, who have sat atop the list since 2006, didn’t just drop one spot, though. According to Forbes, Toronto has slipped to third when it comes to franchise valuation and have seen their worth slip 12 percent since last season. On this year’s list, the New York Rangers have taken over the top spot thanks to a nine percent increase in value change and the second-highest earnings in the league this past season.
Forbes stated the value of the Rangers is $1.2 billion, which makes them the highest standing of the league’s three billion-dollar franchises, with Montreal sitting in second place at a valuation of $1.18 billion. The Canadiens, Forbes wrote, out earned all clubs with $91.3 million coming in this past season.
The jump from third place last season — Forbes had Montreal at $1 billion even in 2014 — to second place this year was a massive one when you consider the change in value the Canadiens had. The increase in value from 2014 to 2015 was 18 percent, the highest of any team in the league. The next biggest movers were the St. Louis Blues (15 percent increase), Columbus Blue Jackets (13 percent), Tampa Bay Lightning (13 percent) and Washington Capitals (13 percent).
By winning their third Stanley Cup in six seasons, the Chicago Blackhawks nearly became the NHL’s fourth team valued at $1 billion, but are still roughly $70 million shy of the mark, according to Forbes. Last season’s rankings had the Maple Leafs, Rangers and Canadiens crossing the billion-dollar mark, the first time the NHL had three such teams. The average value was $505 million, up from the 2014 average of $490 million.
The only team to break into the top five this season that wasn’t among the five highest value franchises in 2014 was the Boston Bruins. The Bruins, valued at $750 million, swapped places with the sixth-place Canucks, who are also valued at $750 million but generated $6 million less in revenue, according to Forbes.
Forbes’ Mike Ozanian noted that the weakened Canadian dollar hurt the seven clubs north of the border, and it also had an impact on the 23 American franchises. The dip in the Canadian dollar’s value resulted in the “devaluation of the Rogers media deal,” wrote Ozanian.
As far as moving up the list, the biggest changes came for the Dallas Stars, Anaheim Ducks and Columbus Blue Jackets, all of which moved up two spots this season. The Stars went from 15th on the 2014 list to 13th in 2015, Ducks from 18th to 16th and Blue Jackets from 29th to 27th. On the opposite end of the spectrum were the Maple Leafs, Flames (13th to 15th), Senators (16th to 18th), Predators (24th to 26th) and Coyotes (27th to 29th), all of which slipped two spots.
For the second consecutive year, the Florida Panthers finished dead last in valuations. Not only that, but the franchise’s estimated value didn’t move. In 2014, Forbes ranked the Panthers 30th with a value of $190 million, which is exactly the valuation and ranking given to the club in 2015. That said, Forbes estimated the Panthers saw a $10 million increase in revenue and a $35.8 million increase in operating income, which is the largest increase of any team.