PHT Morning Skate: Maple Leafs ranked worst franchise in North America

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

The Toronto Maple Leafs placed last among the 122 North American professional sports franchises in ESPN’s Ultimate Standings. They considered a variety of factors, including the team, its ownership, affordability, and fan relations. On a more positive note, the Anaheim Ducks were rated as the second best North American franchise, behind the San Antonio Spurs. (ESPN)

Ilya Kovalchuk scored just 16 goals in his first KHL season, but he already has 11 in seven games in 2014-15. That puts him on pace to break Russia’s all-time single-season record. (Slava Malamud)

Michael Ryder thinks he can bounce back after recording just 34 points last season. (Star-Ledger)

Remembering the California/Oakland Seals. (SB Nation)

Pittsburgh’s top two defensive pairing might end up being Kris Letang and Olli Maatta along with Paul Martin and Christian Ehrhoff. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

The Tampa Bay Lightning have made a pretty cool billboard. How good is it? Well, it’s creative enough to get people talking about a billboard. (Puck Daddy)