Rangers Top Forbes' 2021 List of Most Valuable NHL Teams; NYR Becomes 1st $2B Team

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVDecember 8, 2021

New York Rangers center Kevin Rooney (17) is congratulated by teammates after scoring against the Chicago Blackhawks during the third period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)
AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski

The New York Rangers have become the first NHL team to receive a $2 billion valuation by Forbes.

Mike Ozanian of Forbes reported Wednesday that the Rangers top the magazine's annual list of NHL team values, which saw the league average jump from $653 million to $865 million over the past year—a 32 percent increase despite the lingering impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here's a look at the top 10 teams on the Forbes list for the 2021-22 season:

1. New York Rangers ($2 billion)

2. Toronto Maple Leafs ($1.8 billion)

3. Montreal Canadiens ($1.6 billion)

4. Chicago Blackhawks ($1.4 billion)

5. Boston Bruins ($1.3 billion)

6. Philadelphia Flyers ($1.2 billion)

7. Edmonton Oilers ($1.1 billion)

8. Los Angeles Kings ($1.025 billion)

9. Detroit Red Wings ($990 million)

10. New York Islanders ($950 million)

The increase in average team values comes from a significantly larger television deal in the United States ($625 million annually from ESPN and Turner, compared to $300 million from NBC), revenue from new arenas around the league and sponsorship income that's reached $676 million with even more deals expected as jersey patches arrive for the 2022-23 season, per Ozanian.

No NHL team saw a decrease in its value over the past year, and the Edmonton Oilers saw the biggest increase by doubling their valuation to $1.1 billion, according to Forbes.

The Seattle Kraken paid a $650 million expansion fee to enter the league this season and they are already in the green, being valued at $875 million, 13th in the 32-team NHL.

All of the impressive valuations come despite concerns about lackluster attendance figures.

In November, Sean Shapiro of The Athletic reported only two of the league's teams were drawing crowd sizes equal to or above the numbers they posted before the 2019-20 season was paused amid the coronavirus pandemic.

An NHL team president told Shapiro they also saw season-ticket holders opt for smaller ticket packages since they weren't able to resell as many games on secondary markets.

"They know what we know: they can't sell those tickets anymore on the secondary market, there isn't the demand anymore," the executive said. "So they don't want to be left on the hook for tickets they aren't going to use. In the long run, I think the full-season ticket holder will be a thing of the past, partially because of COVID."

While ticket sales are down, everything else is trending in a positive direction for the NHL. That's why Forbes projects all hockey-related revenue, which dipped to $2.9 billion in 2020-21, to reach $6 billion by the 2025-26 campaign.

Meanwhile, the Rangers are living up to their value with the league's best points percentage (.771) so far this season thanks to a 17-4-3 record.