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Forbes lists the Maple Leafs as the second most valuable franchise in the NHL

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The franchise is growing in value and lies second only to the New York Rangers in value.

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The Toronto Maple Leafs are a rich team. According to Forbes, they aren’t just cash rich, they’re asset rich.

Their chart of updated asset values for teams rates the Leafs as worth $1.4 Billion (all figures are in US dollars), right behind the New York Rangers at $1.5 B. They’ve vaulted over the Montréal Canadiens who sit at $1.25 B.

Also shown is the ratio of debt to the asset value of the franchise. Several teams are at zero, with the Leafs at a modest 8%, and then the debt loads rise to the stunning high of 83% for the Arizona Coyotes. More on that team in a moment.

In terms of revenue, the Leafs are third behind the Rangers and the Canadiens, with a healthy $211 Million. You should see revenue here as the gross income coming into the team.

Where it gets interesting is the operating income column. This is what you or I might think of as the profit or loss and isn’t just an income figure despite the name. This is revenue minus operating expenses, but it excludes things like interest (remember that when looking at the teams with very high debt) and some other expenses that aren’t due to day-to-day operation. This number tells you if the operation of the business turns a profit or a loss.

The Leafs are third on the operating income list at $76 M. And the Coyotes are at the bottom with $-19 M. Interestingly the Buffalo Sabres are also in a loss position here at $-13 M. The difference is debt load. The Sabres high but not crippling 23% debt adds more to their losses shown here with interest expense, but it doesn’t render their team virtually valueless as the Coyotes huge debt load does.

One thing you should know when contemplating the millions and billions is that each team received $16 M as their share of the Vegas Golden Knights expansion fee of $500 M. So that fee helps to stem the bleeding on a team like the Coyotes. It is clear, however, that since the NHL controls the doling out of expansion franchises, that the asset value of a team can mean much more than its profitability.

The Leafs, who are a blue chip team owned by a pair of media companies with fingers in many pies, are there to grow in value. And grow they have, with an increase of 27%, the sixth highest amount.

Other teams experiencing large asset value growth are the Carolina Hurricanes, leading the way with 61%, the Nashville Predators at 41% and the Florida Panthers at 30%. All three of those teams are still valued below the expansion entry fee of $500 M.

The Coyotes have also grown by a large amount, 25%, which says more about how low their value was before than it does how much they’ve gotten on track as a team.

Seattle has a promised renovation on an arena in the works now, and at least one media outlet is claiming that an expansion or relocation there is imminent. The Quebec arena is sitting there waiting for a team, and there is now suddenly a facility owner in Houston open to the idea of a hockey team.

So for all of these wannabe NHL owners like the Seattle group, they have to ask themselves if they want to pay $500 M for an expansion team after going through the bid process (remember that nonrefundable fee?) or if they want to buy and move the Carolina Hurricanes, who are for sale (although the NHL wants the new owner to agree to not move the team). So possibly, they should gamble on the biggest bargain of them all: the Arizona Coyotes, who aren’t worth much (perhaps nothing at all), have a massive debt load and no new arena deal, but have all those nice prospects due up any minute to wow the NHL fans.