Hobby Musings: 2018-19 A Good Season For Hockey Cards – With the Stanley Cup over and the Blues hosting the trophy, it’s worth reflecting back on what was a fun season both on the ice and in the hockey collecting community. With another good rookie class, collectors continued to snap up cards of their favorite players. For more on what this season meant for Upper Deck, as well as looking ahead to the upcoming draft, I had a chance to catch up with Chris Carlin. The following interview was conducted via email.
KS: How do you think the 2018-19 NHL season went from a trading card standpoint?
CC: I think it was a really pleasant surprise. Anytime we have a rookie on a Canadian franchise doing well, it’s good for the industry and to have a player like Elias Pettersson come along and do some really incredible things this season for Vancouver was awesome to see. There were a few nice young (guns) rookies on Canadian franchises this season though outside of Elias Pettersson:
Calgary Flames: Dillon Dube & Juuso Valimaki
Edmonton Oilers: Evan Bouchard & Ethan Bear
Winnipeg Jets: Kristian Vesalainen & Sami Niku
Montreal Canadiens: Jesperi Kotkaniemi
Toronto Maple Leafs: Andreas Johnsson
Ottawa Senators: Brady Tkachuk
KS: Overall, who do you think was the NHL trading card MVP of this season?
CC: Usually I’d say Connor McDavid and call it a day. What he’s done and continues to do is incredible and he’s doing highlight reel heroics almost every night. He has a focus and drive to be the absolute best. However, what the NHL really has this season is a lot of depth. There is so much parity in the league, which is what we are seeing in this memorable playoff with shocking results almost every night. Players like David Pastrnak, Vladimir Tarasenko, Nathan MacKinnon, Marc-Andre Fleury, and so many others are making fans seek out their collectibles. It’s been a really fun season.
KS: Which player took the biggest leap in his hockey card market this past season?
CC: Going back to 2014-15 Upper Deck products, you have another red hot rookie making history in the Stanley Cup Final in Jordan Binnington for the St. Louis Blues. He’s definitely in the conversation for a late season MVP and has collectors racing to their “common” boxes from 2014-15 to grab his rookies. It’s fun when something like this happens and show that you may not realize the value of a rookie until a couple years after their debut.
KS: Looking at the youngsters, who was the NHL trading card ROY this season?
CC: The star of the show was Elias Pettersson, but there were some mid-season heroics by Carter Hart coming in so hot in goal for the Philadelphia Flyers. Another odd hero this season was Gritty, the Flyers mascot. Our Gritty Young Guns promotional cards were red hot, which is truly insane. I got requests from all over the world for those cards and we could have never imagined the interest in them. There is a fun Easter Egg variation in 2018-19 NHL SP Authentic that collectors are buzzing over now.
KS: Which rookie surprised you with his trading card performance this past season?
CC: Definitely Carter Hart. We spent a lot of time with him at the NHLPA Rookie Showcase and we genuinely like him. We have a prize for the best rookie at the event and he won it. To see him go on to have so much success so early in his career was really awesome. We hope the Philly fans appreciate what they have in him and he’s someone I would want my kids to start a PC of!
Hobby Musings: 2018-19 A Good Season For Hockey Cards
KS: The Blues won the Stanley Cup this year. Which player from the team got the biggest boost in his card market because of his postseason play?
CC: I don’t think many collectors even had Jordan Binnington on their card collecting radar when the playoffs started. He has caused almost a panic run on his rookie year cards as fans are breaking them out to sell, and Blues fans are clamoring for them. He definitely is the biggest winner of the Final.
KS: What plans does Upper Deck have to commemorate their Stanley Cup title?
CC: We will be producing an 18-card Stanley Cup Final set that will be made available as a gift with purchase for our Authorized Internet Retailers, Authorized Group Breakers, CDD’s in the home town city and on the Upper Deck Store.
KS: This year’s draft will be happening shortly. Who is the top prospect collectors should be looking out for and why?
CC: That’s easy; Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko. Both are going to good markets in New Jersey and New York. There will be a lot of buzz around them and we could see something similar to the Eichel/McDavid year potentially. Being American and Finnish is a little drawback for these players as Canadian collectors tend to love collecting Canadian players, but if you watch them, they are really special players that will be stars in the league for a long-time to come.
KS: Besides him, who are some of the other top prospects collectors should be keeping an eye on in this year’s draft?
CC: This is a deep draft, which is good, but it’s tricky. We always have players come out of the nowhere and really become stars. We saw that with Elias Pettersson this year. The year before that it was Brock Boeser. I think we will have a couple players in the draft really shoot out early on and establish themselves, not only as great players, but All-Stars.
KS: Looking ahead a little, what does Upper Deck have coming up soon for hockey releases?
CC: SP Authentic and Engrained have been REALLY well received in the market. Now we are getting to the fun part on the calendar with some really premium products like Ultimate Collection and Premier. I think fans will love what we’ve done with those this season. Chronology should be an excellent new product, so I’m excited for that to hit later on this summer as well. We also have a pretty crazy class of carryover rookies, so early season products like MVP and O-Pee-Chee will deliver some great value with rookies like Quinn Hughes, Cale Makar, Filip Zadina, Ryan Poehling, Dante Fabbro, Max Jones, Taro Hirose and more live in those products.
Stay up to date on everything happening at Upper Deck’s Hockey division by following them on Twitter @UpperDeckHockey.
For more Hobby Musings from Kelsey Schroyer, follow him on Twitter @KelSchroy75.
Hobby Musings: 2018-19 A Good Season For Hockey Cards
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