The economics of the 2024 Stanley Cup Finals

Summer is here and it is time for hocky. As the heat of June arrives, with it comes the end of the NHL season and a battle for the most coveted prize in ice hockey, the Stanley Cup. This year is unusually exciting, as the final is between a Canadian team and a U.S. team. Canada has had a tough time winning the Cup, the last time was in 1993, when the Montreal Canadians won against the Los Angeles Kings.

This year’s finals feature the Florida Panthers out of the East and the Edmonton Oilers from the West. The teams started the series at Amerant Bank Arena in Sunrise, Florida, before shifting to Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta. The two cities are over 2,500 miles away from one another, the longest distance ever traveled between cup finalists. In just about every sense, these two cup cities could not be more different.

The Florida Panthers return to the finals after falling to the Las Vegas Golden Knights in 2023. This season’s squad returns as seasoned favorites, looking to make good on last year’s promising finals run. Florida employs an oppressive play style supported by an aggressive forecheck, stout defense and a penchant for puck-control. Star goalie Sergei Bobrovsky has continued his transcendent play from last year, averaging a 91% save percentage in the playoffs. Playing in front is a physical offense led by forward Matthew Tkachuk and team captain Aleksander Barkov.

The Panthers will look to bring home their first ever Stanley Cup to the city of Sunrise, their home since 1998. Sunrise lies west of Fort Lauderdale and is a part of the greater Miami metropolitan area. The city is a major retail and office market, anchored by Sawgrass Mills mall and the nearby Sawgrass International Corporate Park, the largest corporate park in Florida. In the 2024 Florida economic outlook report, the Miami metro area has withstood real estate headwinds reasonably well. Much of that can be attributed to the region’s strong job growth, particularly for white-collar office jobs, which is a product of the parade of corporations flocking to Florida’s lower cost and tax environment. Strong migration to Miami has fueled diversification of the local economy, particularly in financial services and logistics and trade.

Far from sunny Florida lies the Canadian provincial capital of Edmonton, known as the “Gateway to the North.” Unlike the tourism and services-focused economy of Miami, Edmonton is a hub for Canada’s mining operations and oil and gas industry in northern Alberta. Edmonton’s central location in Alberta also makes it a key distribution node in the province. Alberta is the leading oil and gas producer in Canada, an industry which has historically accounted for between 25%-30% of Alberta’s total GDP. Activity in the region has ebbed and flowed alongside fluctuations in global oil prices, making the region’s economy particularly sensitive to shifts in energy prices. Canada possesses the fourth-largest proven oil reserves in the world, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, and over 95% of these reserves are located in oil sands deposits in Alberta.

Edmonton’s oil and gas industry isn’t just a key component of its economy, it is also the namesake of their storied local hockey club. The Edmonton Oilers return to the Stanley Cup for the first time since their defeat at the hands of the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006. This time around, the Oilers are carrying more than just the hopes of Edmontonians on their shoulders. In the 30 years since a Canadian team won the Stanley Cup, five teams from Canada have advanced to the finals with all failing to capture the cup. The Oilers themselves last won the cup in 1990, capping off a seven-year dynasty in which they won five Stanley Cups. Leading those 80s squads was the “Great One,” Wayne Gretzky, near unanimously regarded as the greatest player in NHL history.

This year’s squad has its own generational talent in Connor McDavid, who, alongside fellow star Leon Draisatl will finally get his shot at hockey immortality. The Oilers are a high-powered offense centered around their major stars and will heavily rely on their efficient power play which is converting at a league-high 37.3%. The Oilers defensive play can be rocky at times, but the presence of Evan Bouchard, one of the league’s elite defensive scorers, provides an end-to-end threat that Florida will need to be wary of. As the 2024 NHL playoffs draw to a close, will Lord Stanley’s Cup make its first-ever trip to southern Florida, or will it make its long-awaited return to the Great White North? Somehow it would feel right if Canada won again, but it is not likely.

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