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.

With increased workload, Steve Mason settling in as unquestioned No. 1 goalie

With increased workload, Steve Mason settling in as unquestioned No. 1 goalie

As Steve Mason has gone recently, the Flyers have gone right with him.

That theme held true in Tuesday’s 3-2 overtime win over the Florida Panthers, as the Flyers extended their winning streak to six games on the back of a 42-save performance from Mason.

For Mason, it was not only his fifth consecutive win, which equals a career high, but also the fifth straight game that he’s surrendered no more than two goals.

"Biggest thing is the saves we got, no doubt about that,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “I thought Mase, it was one of those nights where he was our best player."

"He's been amazing,” Jakub Voracek said. “He's had a lot of streaks like this through his career. Last five, six games, he's been outstanding. Last year he pushed us to the playoffs, he was outstanding. When he got traded here, he was outstanding. It's good to see him play like that."

"Mase was the difference tonight,” Wayne Simmonds said.

On a night where the Flyers’ overall play could be best described as sloppy, Mason was sharp from the opening puck drop.

Despite facing of barrage of shots early, Mason was locked in, stopping 14 of the whopping 15 shots he faced in the first period. The only blemish on his opening period record was a goal from the slot area off the stick of Aleksander Barkov, who beat Mason to his short side on a perfect cross-ice feed from Mark Pysyk.

After the Flyers rebounded with a cleaner second period to take a 2-1 lead, Mason was forced to stand on his head for the final 20 minutes of regulation. The Panthers dominated puck possession yet again in the third, outshooting the Flyers, 17-4, and tying the game at two with just under five minutes remaining.  

"It was a game where you had to come up with big saves,” Mason said. “We spent a lot of time in our own end. It was good to come up with two points, but I think we all understand we have to be better."

While Jussi Jokinen, who was unaccounted for on a Florida rush, tallied the equalizer late in the third period, the Flyers were lucky that wasn’t the go-ahead goal thanks to a highlight-reel save by Mason earlier in the period.

An Aaron Ekblad shot from the point hit a screened Mason in the shoulder and bounced right onto the stick of Jokinen, who went around Mason and shot the puck on an open net.

But Mason made a last-ditch effort and dove at the puck, just getting his glove on it to protect the Flyers’ lead and cap off a spectacular save

"The original shot came through cross body and hit me in the shoulder so I didn't pick that up initially through the screens,” Mason said “Went down to my right there and just made a desperation attempt to get anything on it and fortunately I was able to get the glove on it.

“They had their chances. We were able to come through when we had to. Simmer comes up with some key goals again. At the end of the day we have to be better. The first period we weren't good enough, the second was a little bit better, but then again in the third we have to be better overall."

Mason began the season as a part of a goalie tandem with Michal Neuvirth. Neither goalie got off to a hot enough start to put a claim on the position, but Mason was trusted into the No. 1 role after Nuevirth went down with a lower-body injury against the Wild on Nov. 12.

Through his first 10 games prior to Nuevirth’s injury, Mason was stopping just 87.4 percent of the shots fired his way, while allowing an average three goals per outing.

Since then, Mason’s made 11 of a possible 12 starts and his increase in workload has coincided with his turnaround, boasting a .929 save percentage since becoming the consistent starter. During his current five-game winning streak, the 28-year-old carries a .947 save percentage and a 1.80 goals against average. 

And Mason getting hot at the same time he’s back as the Flyers’ unquestioned starting goaltender isn’t any coincidence either.

"You do read things at a higher level and that's something that you always work for,” Mason said of the increased workload. “To be reading plays and kind of reading things before they happen. It all goes back to practicing and working hard. You work hard sometimes you get rewarded for it.
 
“I've said it numerous times, I want to be playing lots of hockey. This is a position that I'm used to being in and where I'm most comfortable. So just have to keep continuing to put my work in and whenever Hak calls my name be ready."

Best of NHL: Last-place Islanders take down rival Rangers

Best of NHL: Last-place Islanders take down rival Rangers

NEW YORK -- Andrew Ladd scored in the second period and Jaroslav Halak stopped 36 shots to lead the New York Islanders to a 4-2 victory over the crosstown-rival Rangers on Tuesday night.

John Tavares, Jason Chimera and Scott Mayfield also scored at the Barclays Center to help the last-place Islanders improve to 4-0-1 in their last five games.

Jimmy Vesey and Marc Staal scored for the Metropolitan Division-leading Rangers and Henrik Lundqvist finished with 28 saves. The Rangers have alternated wins and losses in regulation in their last eight games.

Halak beat Lundqvist for the ninth time in their last 10 matchups. Halak had won eight straight -- including the last five after joining the Islanders before the 2014-15 season -- before Lundqvist ended the streak in the Rangers' 5-3 win in the season opener Oct. 13 at Madison Square Garden. Lundqvist is now 1-6-1 in his last eight against the Islanders (see full recap).

Schwartz lifts Blues over Canadiens in OT
ST. LOUIS -- Jaden Schwartz got his second goal of the game in overtime, leading the St. Louis Blues to a 3-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night.

Paul Stastny also scored for St. Louis, which has won four of five. The Blues rallied from a 2-0 deficit and have a point in their last 13 home games.

Tomas Plekanec and Paul Byron scored for Montreal, which completed a five-game trip 2-3.

Goalie Jake Allen made 28 saves to improve to 13-3-3.

Schwartz lifted a backhander past goalie Al Montoya with 1:22 left in overtime.

Stastny and Schwartz scored in a 2:51 span in the third period to tie it at 2 (see full recap).

Blackhawks blank Coyotes to snap modest skid
CHICAGO -- Marian Hossa had two goals, Scott Darling made 22 saves and the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Arizona Coyotes 4-0 on Tuesday night to snap a two-game slide.

Artem Anisimov and Dennis Rasmussen also scored to help Chicago maintain a three-point lead over St. Louis in the Central Division.

Darling made a handful of tough stops but wasn't heavily tested in his first shutout this season and third of his career. He started his third straight game in place of No. 1 goalie Corey Crawford, who had an appendectomy in Philadelphia on Saturday.

The 37-year-old Hossa scored his team-leading 13th and 14th goals in his 27th game -- surpassing his total of 13 last season in 64 contests (see full recap).