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Islanders move up NHL franchise value rankings yet again

UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 21: (L-R) Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin attend the retirement ceremony for John Tonelli that celebrated his career with the New York Islanders and saw his jersey retired and raised to the rafters of NYCB Live's Nassau Coliseum on February 21, 2020 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 21: (L-R) Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin attend the retirement ceremony for John Tonelli that celebrated his career with the New York Islanders and saw his jersey retired and raised to the rafters of NYCB Live's Nassau Coliseum on February 21, 2020 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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The New York Islanders may not have gained value from last year but they’ve gone up a few spots in a league-wide value ranking.

In 2019 Forbes valued the New York Islanders franchise at $520 million. That was up from $440 million in 2018. That ranked the Isles as the 18th most valuable franchise at the time according to Forbes.

This year, Forbes’s valuation stayed at $520 million, but the Isles rose from 18th to the 16th most valuable franchise in the NHL. They’re one of only a handful of teams whose value didn’t fall from the previous year.

The other teams who held their values from 2019 were the New York Rangers ($1.65 billion), Toronto Maple Leafs ($1.5 billion), Montreal Canadiens ($1.34 billion), Chicago Blackhawks ($1.085 billion), and the Boston Bruins ($1 billion).

Look, I know going up two spots isn’t in-and-of-itself huge news. But year over year growth is.

Trending in the Right Direction

According to Forbes, the Islanders have the largest negative operating income differential in the league at -$38 million. The next lowest is the Florida Panthers at -$29 million. Losing money is never a good sign, but consider the greater context of the New York Islanders at the moment.

Their owners have spent heavily to turn this franchise around. The Islanders have a new practice facility, new President and GM, new coach, they’re operating at the salary cap ceiling, and have a $1.3 billion privately financed arena currently under construction.

All of that investment isn’t going to be cheap, but if it works, and the Islanders turn into a winner it will be all worth it.

Sure, the Islanders have a relatively small fan base compared to other teams. According to Forbes, the Isles generate $9 of revenue per fan, compared to the New York Rangers who generate $32 of revenue per fan. But this fan base has endured decades of hardships.

This fanbase has endured owners who didn’t care, owners who didn’t actually have any money, and GM’s who had no idea what they were doing. The team was run into the ground. If not for Charles Wang, there probably wouldn’t be an Islanders team anymore they’d have been relocated elsewhere a while ago.

The picture I’m trying to paint here is that the Islanders fan has had little to cheer for. And the casual fan has had nothing to get their attention and put their butts in a seat for a game.

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By investing heavily into the franchise the Scott Malkin and John Ledecky are hoping to change that. So far it’s working. Over the last two years, the Islanders have the seventh-best record in the NHL and made the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 1993.

And look, the bottom line looks good for them too. They bought the Islanders for $485 million and it’s already gained $35 million since they took over. And with UBS Arena set to open in 2021, that figure is certainly poised to jump much much higher.

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