Thursday, February 9, 2017

13-14 Select Justin Schultz Auto Rookie /199

As little as a year ago, Oilers fans were dumped hardcore on one of the most sought after college free agents from 2012. It turns out he just needed a new focus and a new scene and this season he has had a resurgence in his career and is on track to have his best season ever. True it doesn't hurt to have the forward crew that he has to work with and you or I could rack up a few points being Crosby's D-man but only 52 games into this season, he has at a career high for points already and will likely eclipse his goal high of 11 before the season closes too. The best stat though is his +/- which leads the team at a +29 and is good enough for 5th in the NHL as of Feb 9. While a Norris might be a stretch for Justin given his competition (Brent Burns), this is turning into a great story and one I hope continues to be successful for Justin Schultz.

13-14 Select Justin Schultz Auto Rookie /199
I'm both a fan of Justin Schultz and the 13-14 Select set so you get the best of both worlds with this card. A nice jersey swatch and autograph. I do have a couple more Schulz auto but I will save those for another day. Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

7 Super Select Auto Rookies

I don't even remember when I bought this lot but it's been probably close to two years ago which makes it kind of fun because at the time of the purchase my reasons for excitement could change when I reflect back on the deal. If memory serves me right this batch probably set me back around 30 dollars with shipping and exchange. Almost from the get go, Select auto rookies on the secondary market were well below their Upper Deck counterparts which made collectors like myself happy and in search of deals. The two exceptions were Tarasenko and MacKinnon. Since then even both of them have come down to earth a bit but Tarasenko would be the big fish in that pond. All of these rookies are /399 and feature sticker autos. Please sit back and get comfortable and enjoy the show.

13-14 Select Mark Arcobello Auto Rookie /399
Of all the rookies here, none broke out of the gate hotter than Arcobello. He was nearly a point a game for his first 10 games and then someone threw a bucket of ice on his career. He bounced around a bit stopping in Nashville, Pittsburgh, Arizona and Toronto. 9 goals and 7 assists in 27 games with the Coyotes was his most productive stop but sadly he was in the AHL by the middle of the 2015-16 season. He is currently tearing up the Swiss League leading Bern in scoring (21 goals and 44 points) and sits one point back of Linus Klasen for the league lead. Not sure if he will make a come back to North America but it's safe to say he will continue to excel in the European leagues.

13-14 Select Drew Shore Auto Rookie /399
I wasn't too sure what to expect with Drew Shore. Two years ago I felt he still had potential to be an everyday NHL player but like Arcobello, two years can expose lots about a player and their futures become less cloudy. Much like Mark Arcobello, Drew is in the Swiss league and is excelling as well. Drew has 21 goals as well and 35 points through 39 games for Kloten HC. I predict a similar future for Drew Shore as Mr. Arcobello.

13-14 Select Mikael Granlund Auto Rookie /399
This card was probably initially the second most exciting from the lot. A former 9th overall pick who had made a relatively smooth transition to the North American game and saw some improvement each season he played. These past two have been big steps for Granlund and currently he is having his finest season yet. As we near the All-Star break, he has 10 goals and 36 points in 44 games which is good enough for second in team scoring for the Wild. Given he is only 24, he may have something else to show us before he reaches his prime.

13-14 Select Matt Tennyson Auto Rookie /399
Wasn't too excited about this card to be honest. It's one of those rookies you know are bundled in with others to try and move more product. However, unlike Shore and Arcobello, Tennyson is still in the NHL. He has found himself a home on the Carolina Hurricanes blue line where he is logging about 14 min a night. He could be in a nice location for a team on the rise and could be a solid defensive tool for a young Hurricanes club.

13-14 Select Rickard Rakell Auto Rookie /399
Of all the players in this lot, the past two years have been the kindest to Rakell. After an ok rookie season scoring 9 goals, the departure of Kyle Palmieri, Rakell saw an increase in ice time and took full advantage of it scoring 20 goals last season. He waited out the preseason and finally was rewarded with a pretty impressive contact of 22.8 million over 6 years and this season he is showing the Ducks they got a huge deal. Rakell is scoring at a rate of about 0.5 goals per game which at this pace could translate into a 40 goal season for the young forward. That makes this auto a little more fun than an autograph of a 9 goal scorer if you ask me.

13-14 Select Eric Hartzell Auto Rookie /399
In early 2014 it was difficult to see who would emerge as the backup to M-A Fleury. So many young goalies with varying potentials. Fast forward 3 years and the funny thing is M-A Fleury isn't even their number one starter, they have already won another cup and Zatkoff is in L.A. Eric a former Hobey Baker nominee is currently overseas in a Slovak league and sadly never made it off the bench in an NHL game.

13-14 Select Seth Jones Auto Rookie /399
At the time this was the big fish in the pond. While some of the other cards have gotten more and less exciting, this one has been pretty consistent and with his play this season it's easy to see that when I look back at this post in 10 years, Seth could be the best of the Super 7. At the half way point of the season he is already nearing career highs in goals, assists and points and at this pace is looking at 13 goals and 41 points which gives fans a glimpse of what he really can offer. I am looking forward to the next few seasons and perhaps he could be a true superstar on the blue line.

Thanks for checking out this lot deal. I used to love to pick these up from time to time, perhaps I will go hunting again some day for a fun one from this set or another. In the meantime, hope everyone enjoys the All-Star festivities and I hope to get a few All-Stars posted up here very soon!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Another White Whale Captured - A Piece of Pelle

Pelle Lindbergh was a special player and one who I always had a fascination with. I would wonder, what could he have done had he not made a poor choice one night? He had some much promise and ever since him, the Flyers seem to have been cursed when it comes to goaltenders. I moved around a lot especially in my early adult years especially at University. One thing I always had with me was this little display:

This is a little to big to fit on my scanner so I took a photo with my phone. These are all the cards the were released in North America from his playing days. He should have been in the 84/85 OPC set in my opinion but was only mentioned on the back of one card. I completed this little PC back when I was 13 years old and all 4 cards have pretty much been in that case ever since. It's a little scratched up now and I suspect some day I will need to upgrade it at some point but for now it still is within reach in my hockey card closet and I display it regularly. 

Now I know that I probably will never have a Pelle Lindbergh auto because they are just well beyond my budget and what I would be willing to pay for a single autograph but instead I was able to land this card which is equally awesome to me.  

2015 Leaf/ITG In The Game Used 2 Vintage Memorabilia Lindbergh/Parent /30

It's hard to see the pieces but the Pelle piece is a piece of nylon that looks nice and crusty. It's probably off a glove or blocker I am guessing and the Bernie piece is a nice chunk of leather which I would guess is off his pads or glove. This card is numbered to just 30 and looks magnificent in person.

Here is the back side and as you can see ITG is now a Leaf product but unlike some of their pieces I believe this one was very well done. While Pelle is not going to ever make the Hall of Fame, I felt my collection really needed one more piece of Pelle just to make this PC complete and I believe this card really does it for me. There are lots of memorabilia pieces out there now and I may find another one or two before my collecting days are over but any additions will be merely by happenstance and not anything I am going to actively track down. It's nice to sometimes close out a PC and I believe I am pretty much there with this one! A nice finish if you ask me. Does anyone out there have a PC they have been able to "finish"?

Thursday, January 12, 2017

14-15 SPx Emerald Rookies Damon Severson Patch Auto /10

More Damon Severson folks, I appologize but he's rapidly become my main PC it seems and this one is another fun one I couldn't help but share!

14-15 SPx Emerald Rookies Damon Severson Patch Auto /10
When it comes to autographs, I must say I sure do like the ones with inscriptions on it. It's fun to see a player's printing/handwriting beyond their name. Having a thousand Wayne Gretzky autos would be cool but having one with a note, quip or expression would be even that much cooler and in when comes to Damon Severson I am pretty lucky to have a few of his autos and now I have one with a "Go Devils" attached to it. The nice thing is he had to take a little more time signing this and I get a chance to see some additional penmanship. The rainbow gold foil is pretty cool on the card and the green normally wouldn't be the most appealing but given the Devils colour history it's a nice thing that works for this card in my opinion. It's got a decent patch and it's numbered to 10 which are all fun bonuses to go with my "Go Devils".

What are your thoughts? Do you like additional remarks on your cards? Thanks for stopping by and I will share something next time that isn't Devils related!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

14-15 UD Premier Premier Rookies Aaron Ekblad Patch Auto Rookie /199

When you think about your favourite NHL team, who would be the cornerstone your franchise is built around? Every long term successful NHL franchise has had one or two key players which laid the foundation of their successes. Think 50's Montreal and you have the Rocket. Think 80's Oilers and you have Gretzky. Think 90's Red Wings and you have Yzerman and this list goes on and on. Most times when you think of these teams, the player that stands out the most is the offensive superstar and usually is a forward. With the exception of Bobby Orr, when was the last time you got super excited about a defenseman? Erik Karlsson and PK Subban have brought a little appeal to the position over the past couple years but when you consider them one of the best in the game and compare that to a Crosby or a Price they pale in comparison in all facets. It just seems that NHL defensemen aren't that "sexy".

Since 1980 only 7 defensemen (technically 8 have but I am not counting Wendel Clark as he jumped to LW during his first season) have been drafted first overall in the NHL entry draft. Here is a list of those 7 and please brace yourself:
1982 Gord Kluzak 123 points in 299 games. Zero NHL awards or honours.
1992 Roman Hamrlik 638 points in 1395 games. Olympic gold medalist and 3 time all-star.
1994 Ed Jovanovski 500 points in 1128 games. 3 time gold medalist and 5-time all star etc.
1995 Bryan Berard 323 points in 619 games. Calder trophy, All-Rookie Team and Masterton Trophy.
1996 Chris Phillips 288 points in 1179 games. Several international medals.
2006 Erik Johnson 231 points in 552 games. Currently injured but has won several international medals and did play in 1 All-Star game.

Are you underwhelmed yet? Truth is, many of the best NHL defenseman in the last 25 years haven't been first overall picks. While nothing is a sure thing, I am willing to bet that none of those above 6 will be in the HOF any time soon and unfortunately despite some pretty excellent NHL careers, most would be considered "busts" so one degree or another based on the expectations of a first overall pick! Since 1982, 4 Hall of Famers have been chosen first overall and an additional 4 could be safe bets to get a call.

Now comes the 7th defenseman who was a first overall pick since 1982. Aaron Ekblad.

Aaron Ekblad is one of those players who I believe has the potential to be a cornerstone player that a successful franchise could be built from. Much like the 80's Bruins had Bourque, the 90's Devils had Scott Stevens or the 90's Rangers had Brian Leetch. I am not going to call Aaron Ekblad the next Bobby Orr because there is no next Bobby Orr. But I believe that Aaron Ekblad has already shown the potential to change a game and there is really nothing this kid can't do. He is already as successful as many other former number 1 picks and he is only 20 years old. His performance at the 2015 World Championships showed that he is truly a rare talent and a big reason for the Panthers turnaround is Aaron Ekblad. While defenseman aren't that "sexy" to necessarily watch and collect, I believe Ekblad could be an exception to this rule.

14-15 UD Premier Premier Rookies Aaron Ekblad Patch Auto Rookie /199
When I look at all the different releases from 14-15, I can't find one I like better than UD Premier. Even The Cup cards aren't as nice as these ones. Check out the size of the patch! It's a pretty solid one in my opinion and it manages to squeeze three colours into the window. Combine that with a nice on card auto and a clean use of foil and acetate you get a winner in my eyes. Well done Upper Deck, definitely a product that is nearly flawless in my opinion. The bigger named rookies are numbered to 199 while some of other more common ones were 299 and there were a few non-patch rookie autos also numbered to 299. 14-15 might be best remembered for Johnny Hockey's entry into the NHL but if I had my choice between him and Ekblad, I would take Ekblad every time!

What are your thoughts, would you draft your team back to front? Front to back or go with a solid defense core? Don't get me wrong, I would definitely draft a Crosby, or McDavid over any defenseman in the NHL. But after these two, would you take a player like Tyler Seguin over Aaron Ekblad or Erik Karlsson? Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, January 6, 2017

14-15 Fleer Showcase Hot Prospects Red Glow Damon Severson /27

Continuing along with 14-15 Fleer Showcase, here is one more for my Damon Severson PC which is the complement of this card. I sometimes roll my eyes when companies pump out parallel after parallel and pretty much use up every gem type known to man with their naming. However, Fleer Showcase keeps the list pretty short and the different levels offer something unique as well. In the case of Damon Severson his Red Glow cards are with the fight strap off his jersey which is pretty cool and adds something extra to plain white relic! 

14-15 Fleer Showcase Hot Prospects Red Glow Damon Severson Auto Strap  /27
As you can see, my scanner had issues on what part of the card to focus on and it looks like the auto and the Fleer foil were the winners meanwhile lots of the other text lost. In person it's a pretty nice looking card and looks nice on display (you'll have to take my word for it). There is also a White Hot version /3 but I have not yet stumbled across it and I suspect it could never happen either. However, I will always keep my ears to the streets and maybe I will luck into it and complete my hat trick. 

Thanks for stopping by and Happy Friday to those reading this today!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

My New Year's Resolution

About a decade ago I made a resolution to stop making resolutions. I was pretty good at avoiding them, perfect in fact until now. This year I have decided to make a resolution involving my blog. In past years I was pretty good at making regular posts and I felt a drive to do so. The past two years have been pretty lean in the posts department and it's not because of a lack of drive. This past year was better than two years ago and I am pledging to increase my activity still. I have a goal of 120 posts and I am even hoping to exceed that but I wanted my goal to be also achievable given the business of life and parenthood.

Speaking of turning things around, the Columbus Blue Jackets have been a team on a mission and they seem to show no signs of stopping. The team itself really isn't much different than last year, but the players themselves have seemed to just step up their game. Bobrovsky has played very well this year and has been  healthy and when you combine that with young players like Wennberg, Saad, Atkinson and Jones have all made huge developmental leaps in their game. Inject a rejuvenated Sam Gagner who is on pace to have the best season in his career after being left for dead by a majority of the NHL and rookie phenom Zach Werenski you have a team that is currently tops in the NHL. What is extra scaring is former 30 goal men like Boone Jenner and Scott Hartnell aren't even hitting their strides yet.

14-15 Fleer Showcase Hot Prospects Alexander Wennberg /175
Here is a good card to start the year on if you ask me. This card looks great in person with the silver patch. A few other colours are present too and the gold foil is a nice addition to the card. Some of these rookies are numbered to /375 and others /175. There are other Red Hot Variations of these too which I will share one I have in my collection at a later date. If you are looking for an affordable patch auto rookie on the secondary market that is very visually appealing, I do recommend these cards. While I tend to go after Trilogy Auto Rookies from this particular year, these are definitely cool cards too.

Alex Wennberg is currently second in team scoring with 34 points in 36 games which is 6 points shy of his career high of 40 which he set last season in 69 games. Alex is a playmaker first and foremost and I think he will be a great number one pivot for the Blue Jackets for many years to come given he is only 21 years old.

I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year and thank you for stopping by, I love this hobby and interacting with fellow bloggers and collectors and I hope to do even more of that this year! Happy 2017.

Friday, December 9, 2016

16-17 Artifacts Pavel Zacha Rookie /999

Continuing on the path of pairs, I have a pair of this particular card but rather than scan it two times and illustrate two different serial numbers I decided to just focus on one of them.

Year after year, Upper Deck releases the Artifacts brand early in the season and for me personally it's always a delight. The cost is usually around 100 CDN and what you get for your money is typically pretty solid. Before last year it was 10 packs per hobby box but now you only get 8 in a hobby box. In those 8 packs you pretty much are guaranteed a "hit" per pack. A hit in this case is essentially an insert, auto, game used, rookie/rookie redemption or a serial numbered card. For more discriminating collectors, you essentially get three game used/auto cards per box plus a rookie redemption so half your packs are going to at least make someone really smile. There are also some case hits including rookie signatures and other great value added items which make Artifacts loads of fun to rip.

What I love beyond all the hits etc, is the design that the base cards and rookies typically have year in and year out. I am going to focus on this Pavel Zacha rookie:

16-17 Artifacts Pavel Zacha Rookie /999
The design of the Artifacts rookies are usually very simplistic and easy on the eyes. The players are always the focus on the card and typically there are some foil accents added to the card. Each rookie is always serial numbered and they typically range from 699-999 depending on the number of rookies and if it's a live pull or a redemption pull. Even at 999 they are at least 5 times more rare than your standard Young Guns rookie. With that being said, not all collectors share my love of these cards and as a result they typically don't sell for more than their Young Gun counterparts and in fact are often a much more affordable alternative for collectors. For example, an Auston Matthews Artifacts redemption can be had for under 100 CDN on the secondary market meanwhile his Young Guns rookie will set you back more than 150 CDN typically. As much as this speaks to the strong following Young Guns rookies have, I also believe it speaks to the great value an Artifacts rookie has. Which rookie is right for you is entirely your decision. Budget sometimes says one rookie over another and sometimes a collector needs BOTH. What is neat to about some of the live rookies in Artifacts is the chance to get additional parallels like game used jerseys, patches or autos much like the Santini's I shared. 

Back side of the Artifacts rookies is equally easy on the eyes as the front. Very clean and easy design that isn't distracting in the least and you get a nice brief player write up as well as stats and a vitals. As you can see Pavel had a great start to his NHL career, this season has been a little less successful (a fair bit less than 2 points per game this year) but I have faith he will grow into an amazing two way player.

I really like the design of both Artifacts rookies and Young Guns this season and I plan on reviewing this year's Young Guns a little more closely in a future post. Thanks for stopping by, and I have a couple more different Artifacts Zachas to share with you another time as well.

Monday, November 28, 2016

A Pair of Santinis

When the Devils drafted Steve Santini back in 2013 my thoughts immediately went to this guy.

Steve Santini is a magician, escape artist and a collector of the macabre. He was on a show called Deals from the Darkside where he would go and track down rare and unusual items from human history usually dark in nature. For example, torture devices, swords, guns and items tied to tragedies. I for one don't collect these items but I found the show fascinating and the history aspects were pretty cool and Steve did a great job sharing his vast knowledge.

Well safe to say by looking at him, he isn't a 21 year old hockey player. The Steve Santini the Devils drafted is a 6' 2" 208 lb defensive minded defenseman who won a few awards in college and represented Team USA at the World Hockey Championships this past spring. While he won't wow you with his offensive acuity, he is the type of defenseman that all championship teams need. Someone who will chew up 20+ minutes a night and win the battles for the puck in the defensive end. While Steve hasn't seen too much time with the big club yet, he will. These types of defensemen sometimes take a little more time to mature and I look forward to seeing him grow and mature into the shutdown defenseman I believe he can be. I think he has Mark Staal potential which will be a big help to a rebuilding Devils club. In honour of our two Steve Santini's, here are a couple cards I pick up in two separate trades.

16-17 Artifacts Gold Spectrum Steve Santini Rookie Patch /49
 When it comes to the New Jersey Devils in cardboard form, their patches don't get much nicer than these. Two great pieces and the gold foil shines wonderfully with this card. I might have over traded a bit to get this one but it was worth it for the patch quality.

16-17 Artifacts Emerald Steve Santini Rookie Patch Auto /35
This one is similar to the last but we lose one patch for a jersey and gain an autograph. Steve has a pretty unique auto using his S twice with his name. His signature is reasonably legible with it looking a bit like "Steve Satin" which could make for a neat nickname perhaps. I picked this one up as part of a twitter trade and Rene was so kind to send Steve along with a few other cards and some unexpected bonus card which I hope to share on here some day soon.

Thanks for stopping by and visiting the Steves. They wish you a great day and I do as well. The fun thing about a league with 500 players is there are always players like John Madden or Paul Martin who share their names with someone else famous. Does your club have one of these?

Friday, November 25, 2016

11-12 Crown Royale Mark Scheifele Auto Rookie

Some players are just like fine wine and get better with age. Of course when you are a first round draft choice and more particularly one picked in the top 10 sometimes teams and fans can get a little impatient with a player's development. Mark Scheifele is a player who seems to have always played ABOVE expectations and when it came time for the Jets to make their first selection in the 2011 draft, they surprised many by selecting Mark 7th overall. Going into the draft TSN had him ranked 12th below players like Sean Couturier and Dougie Hamilton. However, the Dale Hawerchuk connection I believe helped turn the Jets into believers in this former 7th round OHL draft pick.

In year 1 Mark Scheifele played in 7 games and scored just a single goal before being sent back to junior. Fans were understanding of the move for the most part and were warned he would take some time to develop. The following year the Jets decided that junior was still the best place for him and he tore up the junior rankings including a 41 point performance in just 21 playoff games. After that season, Mark found a home with the Jets where he managed to score 13 goals and 34 points as a rookie and then followed it up with 15 goals and 49 point during the 14-15 season. Last year was Scheifele's break out year and the league began to notice his offensive skills as he scored 29 goals and 61 points which was good enough for second on the team in points and first on the team in goals.

In what is now Mark Scheifele's 4th full NHL season, he seems to be pushing his game to the next level and is currently 3rd in NHL scoring with 23 points and is 5th in the NHL in goals with 11. While it is still early in the season and cold streaks will come, he is currently on pace to finish the year with 41 goals and 86 points which would make the Winnipeg Jets geniuses for drafting him 7th in 2011 because I am sure there are a few teams which picked BEFORE the Jets who might like a mulligan and a chance to pick him this time (I'm looking at you Ottawa and New York) could you imagine Mark Scheifele playing with John Tavares? I am willing to be JT would move to the wing to have MS at centre.

11-12 Crown Royale Mark Scheifele Auto Rookie
 While I have never really loved the die cut cards you get with Crown Royale, but I do love the on card autographs you do get with them. While this card isn't serial numbered it is still a pretty nice rookie of a future NHL superstar.

Here is the backside of the card. As you can see, Mark isn't a small lad and has time has gone by he has grown into that 6' 3" frame and now clocks in at 207 lbs which probably makes him much more difficult to stop now.

I have enjoyed the scoring race greatly so far this season at the 25% mark and can't wait to see how Crosby closes the gap and how some of the new comers to the top of the list fare as time goes by. Happy belated Thanksgiving to my fellow American readers and see you on the next post!