Leafs top Forbes list as most profitable team

News flash: The Toronto Maple Leafs are worth a lot of money.

Once again, the Leafs topped the annual Forbes list of the most profitable hockey franchises with an estimated total value of US$521 million.

Hockey is by far Canada’s most popular sport and the numbers show that. The Montreal Canadiens ranked third on the list with a net worth of $445 million; the Vancouver Canucks are ranked seventh, worth $300 million; the Calgary Flames ranked 13th at $220 million; the Edmonton Oilers ranked 15th at $212 million; the Ottawa Senators ranked 17th at $201 million.

The newest Canadian franchise, the Winnipeg Jets, increased 21 per cent in value this past year, which was the most in the NHL. After True North Sports and Entertainment purchased the Atlanta Thrashers in May for $110 million and relocated to Winnipeg, the franchise is now worth $164 million.

Hockey’s popularity is at an all-time high in North America and so is its profitability. TV ratings are up, as are internet hits. Last season’s Winter Classic between Pittsburgh and Washington garnered an American audience of 4.5 million, making it the most-watched regular season NHL game in 36 years. The average number of unique visitors to NHL.com and the 30 NHL team websites has increased to a record 22 million per month.

The average NHL team is now worth $240 million, which is 5 per cent more than last year. One stat that jumps off the page is the fact the average NHL team is worth 47 per cent more than it was before the lockout that cancelled the 2004-2005 season.

Here is the complete list of where the 30 NHL teams rank:

1) Toronto Maple Leafs $521 million

2) New York Rangers $507 million

3) Montreal Canadiens $445 million

4) Detroit Red Wings $336 million

5) Boston Bruins $325 million

6) Chicago Blackhawks $306 million

7) Vancouver Canucks $300 million

8) Philadelphia Flyers $290 million

9) Pittsburgh Penguins $264 million

10) Los Angeles Kings $232 million

11) Dallas Stars $230 million

12) Washington Capitals $225 million

13) Calgary Flames $220 million

14) Minnesota Wild $213 million

15) Edmonton Oilers $212 million

16) San Jose Sharks $211 million

17) Ottawa Senators $201 million

18) Colorado Avalanche $198 million

19) Anaheim Ducks $184 million

20) New Jersey Devils $181 million

21) Tampa Bay Lightning $174 million

22) Buffalo Sabres $173 million

23) Carolina Hurricanes $169 million

24) Winnipeg Jets $164 million

25) Nashville Predators $163 million

26) Florida Panthers $162 million

27) St. Louis Blues $157 million

28) Columbus Blue Jackets $152 million

29) New York Islanders $149 million

30) Phoenix Coyotes $134 million