Last year when it was announced that Panini would be joining the hockey world I really didn't know what to think. I have only ever known them as a sticker company and really that was my own collecting ignorance. It turns out they have been making sports cards for a number of years and doing a good job at it. So I waited for the hockey products to roll out, and they did slowly, and one after another the hockey world was given what Panini had to offer. After seeing Score, Donruss, Certified and Limited I must say they are decent cards and when compared to many of the UD products of years past they are of similar caliber and I will leave it up to each of you to decide who is better.
What I find particularly interesting is it seems as though many of Panini's products which sell for as much as many of UD's products inside the packs, on the secondary market (places like Ebay) the cards are selling for fraction of the value their UD counterparts are selling for.
For example: A Taylor Hall Rated Rookie could be had for 15 bucks on Ebay easily, while the Young Gun version will set you back closer to 50 (if you are lucky) from what I understand statistically speaking you have an equal chance of pulling either from a box that will run you about 70 bucks. It is clear the demand is still stronger for some of UD's products when you look at the comparables from Panini. So what does this mean for collectors?
Options, there are now more options to score rookies and autographs of your favourite players at prices that are more reasonable than in the past. In addition, for me at least, it also means I might buy one or two boxes less of cards because I know I can buy all the cards I want for less than the cost of the box.
TTMs are another area affected by this new saturation. I was very happy to land myself a Nick Palmieri Mirror Red auto from Ebay. This is an auto I have been trying to get for almost 4 months. When I didn't have luck with getting one from my Score boxes I looked elsewhere and my patience landed me this beauty for about a buck and a half plus shipping.
The card is numbered 222/250 and is a nice on card auto of an up and coming NJ prospect. He recently has been playing with Kovalchuk and Zajac and has 3 goals in his last 6 games with the club.
To get this as a TTM I would have needed to get his card (if I already didn't have it) and mail him a letter which would be to the club in the USA which in all would have cost me almost 2 dollars in postage plus the cost of the envelopes and there would be no guarantee that he would sign it.
Where instead for about 4 dollars I did get the card, already signed and mailed to me. For some players, Panini has made collecting autographs affordable especially in cases where a TTM is a longshot or difficult to attain. I do enjoy writing letters to the players and the payoff is an autograph in return but, if you want a player and a guaranteed autograph then it might be advantageous to use the secondary market and just buy the desired card especially now that there are twice as many Palmieri autographs than there were before. (not to mention ITG's products)