(Reuters) – The New York Rangers are the National Hockey League’s most valuable franchise for a seventh consecutive year and the first worth $2 billion, according to the annual list published by business magazine Forbes on Wednesday.
The Rangers have missed the playoffs in three of the last four NHL seasons but their value shot up 21% compared to last year and they are worth more than double the average value of the league’s 32 teams.
The Toronto Maple Leafs ($1.8 billion), Montreal Canadiens ($1.6 billion), Chicago Blackhawks ($1.4 billion) and Boston Bruins ($1.3 billion) rounded out the top five.
Forbes said the average NHL team is now worth $865 million, an increase of 32% from last year that marks the biggest year-over-year rise since the 50% gain in 2013.
The jump in average team value is due in large part to seven-year U.S. media deals with ESPN and Turner that began this season and will pay the NHL an average of $625 million a year, according to Forbes.
The expansion Seattle Kraken, who paid a $650 million fee to enter the NHL, are 13th on the list and valued at $875 million on the back of strong ticket sales in their inaugural season.
The reigning Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning ($650 million) were 20th on the list and the Arizona Coyotes ($400 million) were the lowest-valued team.
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Ed Osmond)