Rangers tops in gear sales with upstart Golden Knights No. 4

The Vegas Golden Knights have been the story of the NHL this season, as the expansion team has the best record in the Western Conference. They've also been the story off the ice, as Golden Knights gear has sold briskly in Las Vegas and around the rest of the hockey world.

But despite this mania surrounding brand-new products for a brand-new franchise, the Golden Knights aren't the top-selling team brand in the NHL this season.

That honor goes to a team 92 years older than Vegas.

According to Fanatics, which runs the NHL's ecommerce shop and produces its replica fan jerseys, the New York Rangers are the top-selling team this season for all items, from jerseys to hats to jackets and other gear.

The Pittsburgh Penguins, last season's Stanley Cup champions, are second; the Chicago Blackhawks are third; then come the Vegas Golden Knights in fourth place, followed by the Boston Bruins.

The Rangers' participation in the 2018 Winter Classic was a factor, as Winter Classic host teams traditionally see a bump in sales. (The Rangers were technically the road team, but the game was played in Queens, New York.) For example, Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko went from well outside the top 10 to No. 8 overall in 2017 after the St. Louis hosted the Classic.

The Winter Classic effect is also evident in individual merchandise sales, which mostly includes player jerseys but also encompasses items like T-shirts.

Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who had the fifth-best-selling jersey last season, is the third-highest-selling player in 2017-18. Teammate Mats Zuccarello, who didn't finish in the top 20 best-selling jerseys last season, is currently fifth in player merchandise sales.

Sidney Crosby, who had last season's top-selling jersey, is first overall for individual player sales, followed by Toronto Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews, Lundqvist, Edmonton Oilers star Connor McDavid and Zuccarello.

Fanatics, the nation's largest online seller of licensed sports apparel, signed a deal in 2016 to operate Shop NHL and create fan gear for the league. Sources told ESPN's Darren Rovell that it was a 16-year agreement.