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!



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!