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!

Monday, November 21, 2016

14-15 Upper Deck Trilogy Johnny Gaudreau Level 2 Radiant Blue Rookie Auto /225

Last week there were a number of stars that went down with serious injuries. I am not going to cry about the accidental ones because "shift" happens in the NHL and as long as players are going down due to hockey plays and not strange Ricky Henderson-esc stupidity then I can live with that. However, one of the injuries was preventable and I was pretty disappointed when I heard/saw the results of the Wild/Flames game. 21 slashes was the total count apparently and none drew a penalty and in the end Johnny Hockey will be Johnny Armchair for the next several weeks. I have played enough hockey and watched well over a thousand games to know that "taps" are apart of the game. But when you watch that one, it wasn't just random taps, there were players clearly targeting his hands and that is where I draw the line and am disappointed that nothing more was done. Heck, they care more about diving and crap like that which leads to a talented player having his hand/fingers (which is how he plays his game) broken. Truly sad in a time where the league has said in the last decade that they wanted to clamp down on dangerous plays etc.

You want to increase scoring NHL? How about call a few more penalties which will lead to power plays when this stuff happens and keep players like Johnny Hockey in the game and not on the IR.
Rant over, now time for cardboard!

14-15 Upper Deck Trilogy Johnny Gaudreau Level 2 Radiant Blue Rookie Auto /225

Over the past few season I have really enjoyed the Trilogy rookies and this is another example of a great looking card. This is a beauty in person and when the like strikes the foilboard background it is a rainbow of delights! Nice limited print run too with a legible sticker auto.

Here is the backside of the card. I again appreciate Upper Deck including stats and vitals on the backs of these cards. I don't believe the large congratulations is necessary and more could be done back here but in all still a great piece of eye candy that I enjoy as part of my collection. 

Thanks for enduring the rant and stopping by. What are your thoughts on all the players going down? Has your team been affected yet?

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

08-09 Upper Deck Cory Schneider Young Gun

As a person who has been a Devils fan since 1987 I have been pretty lucky to have missed the very early years and most of the time the Devils had Martin Brodeur and some guy backing him up. Don't get me wrong, I love our history and I fondly remember Chris Terreri, Craig Billington, Rollie Melanson and of course Sean Burke. But, with that being said Martin was the man for so many seasons it is still even strange this day to look at our club with all of its players and see someone other than Marty in goal.

The past few seasons have been tough but one area where we still have been very blessed is in goal and I find it strange that internally I don't have this drive to try and grab up everything Cory. His numbers are remarkable and the games he keeps us in each night or even steals are just fabulous for the Devils organization which has lead me to ask myself, why am I not goo-goo for Schneider's cards? I honestly don't know why, but I do have a few of his autographs and game used cards and here is just my third Schneider rookie!

08-09 Upper Deck Cory Schneider Young Gun
The first Schneider rookie I ever got was one I pulled from a pack of OPC. Then about a year or two ago I picked up this auto rookie. I knew eventually I would cross paths with his Young Gun and alas I can say I have one and it's a very nice card when you see it for yourself. I don't think I really had "looked" at one until this one arrived in my collection. Looks like the Canucks were in town to face the Blue Jackets. I love the hovering puck!

So with this card in the collection, I don't want to say I am done with Cory but I don't see myself running out and trading the farm to add any more or saving up for months to try and buy a The Cup rookie. However, should someone offer me one for trade and the deal sounds right I just might. I guess you could call me a causal Schneider collector but I assure you despite that title, I am a big fan of what he has done for the club and hope that he will get us back into the playoffs!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

11-12 The Cup Keith Kinkaid Auto Patch Rookie /249

Countless pundits in the hockey world begin this season by saying the Devils will finish dead last. When I would read these articles I would just shake my head and think that their predictions were a little harsh and off the mark. For those of you that follow the game closely might even remember that on Jan 1st the Devils were actually in a playoff spot nearly 1/2 way through the season. Then our depth was exposed when Mike Cammalleri was injured and missed the rest of the season and Cory Schneider also went down with injury in March and missed 11 games. This isn't a team that I think would be projected to be at the bottom of the Eastern Conference the following season after trading for Taylor Hall.

Fast forward to 13 games into this season and the Devils are a respectable 7-3-3. True there are many more games to be played but we have managed to get that record thus far and really haven't shown signs of slowing down. The Devils have relied on a combination of timely scoring and great goaltending in particular from BOTH goalies. To do well this season we will need our young players to continue to develop and guys like Hall, Henrique, Severson, Zajac and Palmieri to continue to produce offensively. Last night was a great character win over the Buffalo Sabres which had the Devils winning 2-1 in OT after being down 1-0 early. Keith Kinkaid played very well stopping 25/26 shots on the road where the Devils have struggled a bit this season. On the year Kinkaid is a very respectable 2-0-1 with a 1.65 g.a.a and a .944 save percentage. He will be expected this year more than ever to get us wins if we are hoping to make the post season. In honour of his great start to the season, here is a little Kinkaid gem I picked up. 

11-12 The Cup Keith Kinkaid Auto Patch Rookie /249
As with all The Cup rookies, you get a nice on card autograph and in most cases you also get a patch from a player worn jersey and this one has the Devils three colours. As you can see, the photo has Keith sporting his Union College helmet and the number 30 which of course was his College number and in honour of his idol Martin Brodeur. Keith wears #1 for the Devils which was one worn by another great former Devils goalie....J-F Damphousse....just kidding (ok he actually did) but I am referring to Sean Burke!

Thanks for stopping by and putting up with a little Devils rant!

Monday, November 7, 2016

11-12 Panini Rookie Anthology Cam Talbot Auto Rookie /499

As much as I love buying single cards with a purpose or strategy sometimes it is nice to just break a box and see what lady luck has in store for you. A couple years ago, I bought two boxes of Rookie Anthology and did pretty well. One card I hit wasn't terribly exciting at the time but I always liked the look of the card.

11-12 Panini Rookie Anthology Cam Talbot Auto Rookie /499
Perhaps it's all the blue on this card that I was drawn to or just the nice design, either way I could never bring myself to want to trade it to a Rangers fan (had chances to do so). After I pulled this card and thought to myself, 'hey this is a decent looking card', I went onto Hockeydb to see who he even was and if there was potential for awesomeness in him. What I saw was pretty lackluster. Still I learned that we shared the same birthday so I figured what the heck let's put this in the collection.

Less than 2 years later Cam was proving himself a very capable backup for the Rangers going 12-6-1 with a 1.64 g.a.a and an amazing 0.941 save percentage. He would follow it up with another great season winning 21 games and that success had the Oilers believing in him and they made a trade with the Rangers to acquire him. Fast forward to this year and the Oilers are thankful for that deal because the 29 year old goaltender from Caledonia, ON is off to a 8-3-1 start with the Oilers and they could find themselves in the playoffs before this season is over.

I love how collecting can sometimes have you rooting for the oddest players for the oddest reasons and for me it was all because I liked the look of this card and we happened to share the same birthday! Have any of you had sometime similar happen? Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

15-16 UD Exquisite Mikko Rantanen Auto RC /249

UD Exquisite is one of those value added insert sets that UD puts into their high end product much like they would do on occasion with UD Ice etc. They are a very nice card and when I saw a few out on the market I decided I might try my luck and see if I could find one. At the same time, I was reading lots of press about the potential Mikko Rantanen possessed and given the Avalanche are on the rise once again I could see his and the team's success tied together. In the end I was able to mix those two together and I ended up with this:

15-16 UD Exquisite Mikko Rantanen Auto RC /249

A great looking card with on-card auto and "Artifacts-esc" design. I've always like what UD did with their Artifacts product so going for this card seemed very natural with my collecting habits. His signature isn't the worst out there but apart from an "M" and a 96 the rest is up to the imagination.

Here's the back side of the card. Much like their The Cup cards, I see a good mix of stats and congratulations which is always appreciated by this collector. As you can see, Mikko is a large lad and I believe with him the saying "You can teach a player to skate and shoot but you can't teach a player to be taller" definitely applies to his potential. I think the sky's the limit and he could be as good as he is willing to work.

As time goes by, I can definitely see Mikko developing into a first line player and a 70-80 point producer. In recent days he has been called up and is practicing on a line with Nathan MacKinnon after injuring his ankle in the preseason and playing 4 games in the AHL.  Last season he lead the Rampage in scoring with 60 points despite only playing 52 of 76 games and finished 9th in league scoring. As we all know, AHL success doesn't always mean NHL success but I'm hopeful and am wishing Mikko the best of luck this season. Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Wow, has it been 800 posts already? Let's celebrate with the best modern day card IMHO.

When I started this blog nearly 7 years ago, I didn't have much in the way of expectations. I thought I might share a few packs, a few finds and perhaps make a few trades. Instead I have exceeded all those expectations of myself and 800 posts and many new friends later I wanted to bring myself back to the point where my collecting really began.  1990-91 Upper Deck.

Modern day cards in my opinion really began in 1990 when there was a huge collecting boom and it wasn't just Topps or OPC as options. In those 26 years, so many different card companies have come and gone and many set ideas and designs have also succeeded and failed. I want to use this post to share my favourite card created since 1990 and perhaps call it the best card in the past 30 years.

1990-91 Upper Deck #241 Wayne Gretzky Promo
When I started collecting cards everyone was gaga for Upper Deck. The little holograms on the back, the insert stereograms and rookies galore were the draw of these cards. Even their "tamper-proof" packs offered something different than previous card companies products. This was a set to be "invested" into to. Time flies and sadly there are more Roenick and Jagr rookies to go around to all who want them and it wasn't exactly the investment people thought. Partially because the number of people collecting cards hasn't really matched what they were back then and secondly production run was probably a "little" higher than the demand. With that being said, I just remember going to store and seeing the 90-91 UD Low series box on the shelf and I would get butterflies in my tummy wondering who I might open in that pack. 400 cards made up the low series and another 150 were added to the high series. Despite all the packs I would open, one card on the box was never in the packs and that was the Wayne Gretzky promo. I remember seeing that card on the box and I thought, wow that is a cool looking card. Wayne in all black almost looked like he was part of "The Empire" and the look on his face is much like the Mona Lisa. Is Wayne smiling? What is he thinking?

The card had me hooked and when I saw the Gretzky in the pack, dressed in his white "home jersey", I was let down. Don't get me wrong, the regular base Gretzky is a nice card but I wanted my all black Gretzky. As time went by, I would add cards and complete both the low and high series sets. I can't remember the last card I needed to complete the high series but the last card I did need to finish the low series was Ed Belfour. Later in life, during my second incarnation as a collector I was able to land my Wayne Gretzky promo. In fact, I was able to pick up two!

What makes this card so perfect in my opinion is the front, there is no fault I could find with the card. It truly is a work of art that I hope to turn into a work of art and someday I hope to share the final product if all goes well! The backside is able to support my claims as well. The photo on the back shows a home game where Wayne emerges from a scrum/war which has John Tonelli being mugged by Dean Kennedy and Wayne leaving with what I believe are his eyes locked on the puck. I even love the view you get of Wayne's iconic Titan TPM 2020 and Daoust skates.

For the keen eyed, there is a small error on the back too which is just icing on the cake if you ask me as the notation for feet and inches are inverted and list Wayne as 6" 0'. Also in view on the back is the greatest regular season point total the NHL has ever seen 215 points in 80 game. When you combine all the factors above, and the fact that there are no "gimmicks", or swatches or anything added to this card, it is one of my absolute favourite cards of all-time and in my opinion the best card made since 1990. What are your thoughts? Do you have a favourite modern day card?

Thanks goes out to all of you who read my posts and an extra special thanks to those who comment and have reached out to me over the years to make trades or chat cards. All the best and here hopes I have another 800+ posts in me!  

10-11 Zenith Derek Stepan Rookie Roll Call Jersey

Normally I don't card too much for Rangers and steer clear of them, this particular one I grabbed because of what Derek did at the 2010 WJHC where he scored 14 points in just 7 games. He out scored Hall and Eberle along with many other current NHLers.

10-11 Zenith Derek Stepan Rookie Roll Call Jersey
Just a simple Nufex card that looks pretty cool in person. I wouldn't have spent 2 dollars on this card at all so thankfully I was able to land it for 1.50! This year Derek is off to a bit of a slow start but I feel he is due for a break out year and Ranger fans likely agree so best of luck Derek and hopefully you take it easy on my Devils!

Friday, October 21, 2016

13-14 National Treasures Adam Henrique Treasured Steel /5

Speaking of skates....I have a bit more of Mr. Henrique's skates and here it is!

13-14 National Treasures Adam Henrique Treasured Steel /5
This card is both thick and HEAVY. I am in awe of this card and every time I look at it I smile. The design on the front is very simplistic and while the absence of colours can hurt some designs, I believe it works really really well here. Just black, silver and white is essentially all you see here (with the exception of his face). I wonder if they ever considered a black and white photo?

My lone complaint is the blade is actually upside down and I would have preferred the curved part that touched the ice to be down. There is a plastic cover over the card for those wondering so you can't touch the steel directly.

Here is the back side of the card. Again a very simplistic and clean design. The red really pops out in the Devils emblem and the story on the back is a cool one. For those interested in a little extra reading, here is a blog post by Panini America which talks about this particular insert set. Thanks for stopping by, no more Henrique skate pieces next time, I promise!