Breaking down Forbes' NHL team values

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Breaking down Forbes' NHL team values

The company and magazine that reveals and ranks the world’s richest people also calculates the game on ice. On Monday, Forbes released its annual NHL team valuations -- an estimate of the value of each of the 30 teams -- and despite what you’ve seen or read during nasty labor negotiations, there’s money to be made in the NHL.

According to Forbes, 19 teams returned a profit -- from the Maple Leafs at the top, hauling in $48.7 million, to the Colorado Avalanche (17th), turning a modest $300,000. The Flyers climbed up one spot to seventh.

Impressively, the Flyers were still able to turn a $6 million operating income despite the lack of revenue after failing to qualify for the playoffs. The Comcast enterprise is now valued at a half-billion dollars, an increase of 49 percent from 2011-12. Here are some other observations:

Do big UFAs still make cents?
The NHL’s new 10-year CBA effectively ended long-term, front-loaded contracts, allowing more owners to put profits into their pockets. Perhaps Ed Snider and the other board members at Comcast-Spectacor can thank the Nashville Predators for strengthening the Flyers' bottom line. Had Nashville refused to match the offer sheet for defenseman Shea Weber, the Flyers would have been operating in the red after cutting Weber a check for $14 million last summer. No surprise the Minnesota Wild had the largest operating loss of any NHL team at $13.6 million -- the result of signing Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to identical 13-year, $98 million contracts.

Blackhawks are perfect business model
Not only have the ‘Hawks hoisted the Stanley Cup twice in a four-year span, they’ve proven to be one of the league’s most profitable, with an operating income of $25.6 million -- second to the New York Rangers among U.S.-based teams. The Blackhawks are now valued at $625 million -- up 79 percent from the previous year. Owner Rocky Wirtz has lived by the motto “You have to spend money in order to make money,” and within the hockey operations, the Blackhawks have spent wisely. As co-owners of the United Center, the 'Hawks are one of four NHL teams with little or no debt.

Don't count your money by the Cup
The Maple Leafs, Rangers and Canadiens are the Big Three when it comes to current value, revenue and operating income, but that clearly hasn’t translated into success on the ice. The Blueshirts were the last of those teams to win Lord Stanley’s Cup back in 1994, with the Canadiens winning a year earlier. Plus, the wealth is distributed a little more evenly. Last year, Toronto, New York and Montreal accounted for a whopping 83 percent of the league’s income. This year, they accounted for just over half of that amount.

Canadian teams are moneymakers
If the NHL is seriously considering expanding to 32 teams, it’s hard to argue putting two more franchises in Canada. All seven of the Canadian teams rank in the top 16 for the first time in Forbes’ rankings, including three in the top four. Combined, the seven Canadian teams had earnings totaling $129 million -- an average of $18.4 million per team. Comparatively, the 23 U.S.-based franchises collectively had an operating income totaling $81.3 million, or an average of $3.53 million per team. The Winnipeg Jets are now valued at $340 million, or twice what True North Sports & Entertainment paid to bail the franchise out of Atlanta just a few years ago.

Harris right on the money
Sixers owner Josh Harris rescued the New Jersey Devils from an NHL takeover, purchasing the franchise and the lease to the Prudential Center as well as assuming all debt for $320 million back in August. If you thought Harris overpaid, consider that Forbes’ value of the Devils came in at $320 million. However, when evaluating the Devils franchise, a few disturbing aspects stand out. The Dallas Stars (playing in a non-traditional hockey market) and the Buffalo Sabres (playing in one of the league’s smallest markets) are pulling in as much revenue as the Devils, who lost $4.2 million in 2012-13 coming off their run to the Stanley Cup Final the year before. Harris' franchise also has a debt/value ratio of 81 percent, by far the highest of any team in the NHL.

There's a new game in town: The Philadelphia Rebels

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John Boruk/CSNPhilly.com

There's a new game in town: The Philadelphia Rebels

The opportunity to watch a Briere play again in Philadelphia will be an exciting reality for hockey fans this season.

No, Danny Briere isn’t coming out of retirement as the former Flyers forward has committed to handling the day-to-day operations of the organization’s newest ECHL team.  

However, Briere will be keeping close tabs on his younger son, Carson, who’s currently on the Philadelphia Rebels' 30-man roster and is setting his sights on making the team’s final cuts during training camp.

“It’s great,” Briere said Monday. “Growing up here for most of my life, I love Philly. It’s fun getting to play in the same city that [my dad] did. Whenever I think of him playing, I always think of that playoff run [in 2010] for the Flyers.”

After spending the past two seasons at IceWorks in Aston, Pennsylvania, the NAHL’s (North American Hockey League) Rebels are moving their operation to the Penn Ice Rink at the Class of 1923 Arena, where they made the formal announcement on Monday. It will be the organization’s third different home rink in the past four seasons after relocating from the Rio Grande Valley in 2015.

“It was a no-brainer,” team owner Marko Dundovich said. “When the opportunity presented itself, it was very easy. I think it will give the boys a better opportunity to play, get them seen and I think it’s going to continue to grow here, and our business and organization will do much better here.”

The Rebels and junior hockey simply didn’t attract a broad appeal in the Philadelphia suburbs like ownership had hoped, and as a result, attendance lagged as the team typically averaged around 125 fans a game.

“It was the first time we tried Junior A hockey here,” Dundovich said. “If we had a 300-, 400- or 500-person fan base, we would have been OK in Aston, but I think it was tough to sell a junior hockey ticket in Aston. It’s a difficult sell in a small town.”   

Conversely, hockey fans in Philadelphia haven’t had much of an alternative to the Flyers since the Phantoms left the city in 2009 for Glens Falls, New York. Rebels forward Aaron Maguyon, who stays with former Flyers captain Keith Primeau throughout the season, feels the team cannot only fill the 2,500-seat ice rink, but the players will greatly benefit from the college vibe.  

“I think it prepares us for the future and playing college hockey, for sure, so in that way, it’s like a sneak peek for what’s to come," Maguyon said. "I think it helps pull guys closer together. We have restaurants we can go to or just activities we can do in the city."

According to the league website, the NAHL set a new single-season NCAA record with 280-plus commitments, and the Rebels had 12 commit to Divison I programs. Head coach Joe Coombs has built a tier-II junior hockey powerhouse over the past two years. Last season, the Rebels finished with the NAHL’s best regular-season record, advancing to the championship game of the Robertson Cup in Duluth, Minnesota, where they came up short in a 2-0 loss to the Lone Star Brahmas. 

“This is business,” Coombs said. “Let’s bring the game to the people. Over the last two years, we struggled with our attendance. I didn’t even know this place was here — UPenn hockey rink — and we couldn’t think of a better venue right here in University City to try and market our brand of hockey and bring our game to the people.”  

And who knows? You might just see a few former Flyers in the seats, as well.  

NHL Notes: Penguins sign defenseman Brian Dumoulin to 6-year contract

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USA Today Images

NHL Notes: Penguins sign defenseman Brian Dumoulin to 6-year contract

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin has turned his steady play for the Stanley Cup champions into a new contract.

Dumoulin and the team agreed to a six-year deal on Monday that will run through the 2022-23 season and will pay him an average of $4.1 million per year.

The 25-year-old Dumoulin had three goals and 11 assists during Pittsburgh's run to the Cup this spring and hasn't missed a playoff game during the team's sprint to back-to-back titles.

Dumoulin averaged a team-high 21:59 of ice time this postseason, and his plus-9 rating was best among Penguins defensemen. Dumoulin was forced to take on a larger roll this spring after injuries forced Kris Letang to miss the playoffs.

Predators: Watson signs 3-year, $3.3 million deal
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Nashville Predators have signed forward Austin Watson to a three-year $3.3 million deal keeping him under contract through 2019-20.

The Predators announced the deal Monday.

Watson will earn $1 million this season, $1.1 million in 2018-19 and $1.2 million in the third year.

The 25-year-old forward is coming off his best season yet with Nashville. The 6-foot-4, 204-pound Watson had a career high with five goals and seven assists in 77 games this past season. Watson scored four goals and had nine points in 22 playoff games helping Nashville reach the Stanley Cup Final.

The 18th pick overall in the 2010 draft, Watson had three goals and 10 points in 57 games during the 2015-16 season.

Now, center Ryan Johansen is Nashville's lone restricted free agent awaiting a new deal.

Sabres: Okposo says he’s healthy after concussion
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Sabres winger Kyle Okposo said he is fully healthy after a concussion led to sleeping trouble, significant weight loss and a trip to intensive care last March.

Okposo missed the final few weeks of Buffalo's season with a previously undisclosed illness. In a letter posted on the team's website Monday, Okposo said a routine hit in practice caused his mood to change and other problems that required hospitalization.

The 29-year-old said he lost his appetite, had a negative reaction to sleep medications and that at one point he weighed less than 200 pounds. He spent time in the Neuro Surgical ICU at Buffalo General Hospital to be stabilized. Okposo's playing weight is listed at 218 pounds.

Okposo played in a 4-on-4 summer league game in Minnesota with other NHL players last week and reported feeling great. New general manager Jason Botterill said Okposo was on track to be ready for training camp.

"I've worked with a lot of different people -- concussion experts and people who have dealt with concussions themselves -- and I feel confident in the fact that I can play hockey again," Okposo said in the letter. "In fact, I know I can play again. I know I can play and not worry about hitting my head, which is a major hurdle for someone who's dealt with this. If I didn't feel 100 percent right now, that probably wouldn't be the case."

Okposo's last NHL game was March 27 against Florida. He had 19 goals and 26 assists for 45 points in 65 games during his first season with Buffalo. He signed a $42 million, seven-year contract with the Sabres last summer.

NHL: Gamble to get back Hall of Fame ring
PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- A scuba-diving treasure hunter who found an American Hockey League Hall of Fame ring in one of New York's Finger Lakes is returning it to its owner.

Gary Gavurnik, of Auburn, New York, plans to return the prized ring to former AHL star Dick Gamble on Monday. Gavurnik found it with a metal detector in Canandaigua Lake over the Fourth of July weekend.

The 88-year-old Canadian-born Gamble starred for the AHL's Rochester Americans and retired early in the 1969-70 season. He was inducted into the AHL Hall of Fame in 2007.

Instead of wearing the ring, though, he gave it to his son, Craig, who wore it every day for seven years before losing it in the lake. He never told his dad and ordered a replacement.