NHL Social Insights Leaderboard: Does a Good Season Lead to Good Social?

By Mike Metzler

May 20, 2021

Who had the best NHL season in social? Comparing this season’s data with last year’s, it is without a doubt the Florida Panthers that were most improved. The team increased average cross-platform engagements per post by an incredible 195% compared to their previous season average. Second was the Minnesota Wild with a 41% increase and third was the Ottawa Senators at 37% improvement year over year. Interestingly, the Sens were the only team that charted a top-ten improvement and did not make the playoffs.

Increase in Average Engagements Per Post

Comparing 2021 to 2019/2020 Regular Season 

top 10 NHL teams performance social 2021 season

1 Florida Panthers 196%
2 Minnesota Wild 42%
3 Ottawa Senators 37%
4 Carolina Hurricanes 31%
5 Canadiens de Montreal 21%
6 Toronto Maple Leafs 18%
7 New York Islanders 18%
8 Pittsburgh Penguins 12%
9 Vegas Golden Knights 11%
10 Tampa Bay Lightning 10%


Average Cross-Platform Engagements Per Post

Jan 13-May 16, 2021 NHL Regular Season (Playoff Teams Highlighted)

The Toronto Maple Leafs took the top spot on social this season, charting the highest average cross-platform engagement averaging 4,387 engagements per post. The Boston Bruins came in second at 3,512, followed by the Pittsburg Penguins at 3,417, and Capitals at 3,107 average engagements per post. Similar to the  year over year improvements in engagements per post, the majority of top-performing teams on this ranking also made the playoffs. The New York Rangers were the top team in the ranking that did not make the Playoffs, coming in fifth with 3,001 average engagements per post.

nhl top teams on social media engagements

1 Toronto Maple Leafs 4,387
2 Boston Bruins 3,512
3 Pittsburgh Penguins 3,417
4 Washington Capitals 3,107
5 New York Rangers 3,001
6 Chicago Blackhawks 2,373
7 Philadelphia Flyers 2,009
8 St. Louis Blues 1,745
9 Vegas Golden Knights 1,741
10 Vancouver Canucks 1,590


The Effect of a Great Season on Social Media

Jan 13-May 16, 2021 NHL Regular Season

When averaging all the teams who made the playoffs compared to teams that didn’t, playoff-bound teams averaged 69% higher cross-platform total engagements per team on the season. Further evidence that winning performance has a strong impact on social for the season is also shown with average engagements per video and average engagements per post.  Teams who made the playoffs averaged 56% more engagements per video and 46% more engagements per post during the regular season.

Average Total Engagements Per Team Average Engagements/Video Average Engagements/Post
Playoff Teams 8,610,452 1,359 1,720
Non-playoff Teams 5,087,889 873 1,179
The Effect on Social for Playoff-Bound Teams 69% 56% 46%


Stanley Cup-Worthy Social Content from the Season


While they are not headed to the playoffs, the New York Rangers take home the cup for the top piece of content from any NHL team during the 2021 regular season. The Rangers put out a statement on Twitter calling for the firing of Department of Player Safety head George Parros after an incident with the Capitols in early May that resulted in Artemi Panarin being injured for the remainder of the season. This controversial and public reprimand led to the team being fined $250,000 by the NHL.

The next two most popular posts from the season were both posted to the Penguins’ Instagram and feature Sidney Crosby on the night he played his milestone 1,000th NHL game. This illustrates how highlighting popular players can have a significant effect on fan engagement.

Interestingly, none of the top three pieces of content were footage from a game or highlight.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins)



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins)

As evidenced by the data above it’s clear that a winning season has a strong impact on social performance through and through. And while this shouldn’t be a huge surprise to anyone, and in no way ground breaking, it is significant that the difference remained so stark even in the face of teams with larger total audiences. Teams would do well to look at these data points and their own record when planning for branded content activations and setting prices for activations that occur later on in the season.

This data was sourced from the Conviva Social Insights – NHL Teams Leaderboard. Our cross-platform social leaderboard ranks social accounts based on industry using various social metrics across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.