Box Break: 2016-17 Upper Deck AHL

Earlier this month, Upper Deck released a new set of American Hockey League trading cards. Like the 2014-15 and 2015-16 AHL sets, this year’s AHL set is sold in packs and consists of 100 base cards and 50 short-printed cards. (The inaugural 2014-15 Upper Deck AHL set was released as a 100-card boxed set.)

This year’s AHL set is a good mix of prospects who will make it in the NHL, players who have been up-and-down between the NHL and AHL, and players who have not played much in the NHL but excel in the “A.” 

A box of 2016-17 Upper Deck AHL trading cards costs around $40 and contains 20 packs. Each pack has five cards. I recently opened a box. See the results of the break…after the break. 

70 Base Cards

Cards 1 to 100 are the base set. You get three to four of these cards per pack. The design is adequate. The cards lack silver foil, which is fine by me because the foil can sometimes be a distraction. (Plus, I imagine losing the foil lowers the price, so yay!) But the bottom 20% of the card is almost wasted by blue and black bands; it would have looked better if those bands used team colors instead of using blue and black on every card. 

Card backs have one year of stats, vitals (height, weight, shoots, birth date and birthplace) and a short paragraph about the player. In some cases, I like full statistics, but here it could get unwieldy — what stats do you include if a player has played in multiple leagues? — so going with just the previous year’s stats, regardless of whether it was in college, junior or the minors, works well enough. 

20 Short-Printed Cards

Falling one per pack are the short-printed cards, numbered 101 to 150, which focus on the AHL’s brightest prospects. 

2 Base Red Parallel Cards

The parallels that no one asked for. Remember those blue bands on the base cards? Well, they are replaced with red bands on the parallels for some reason. At least parallel cards in other sets replace one color of foil with another color foil, or a special background, or something to make them stand out and look like a parallel. I didn’t realize that these red versions were actually parallels. 

1 Short-Printed Red Parallel Card

The short-printed cards also have red parallels that are found one per box.

2 Autographed Cards

Autographed cards use a sticker that has been signed in blue and later affixed to the card. As usual, the back of the card swaps out the player’s bio paragraph with text noting that you’ve received an autographed card.

You may recall that last year’s AHL set had five to six autographed cards per box, while this year there are only two autographed cards per box. This was probably done to lower the price from roughly $65 USD to around $40 USD. 

5 Mascot Insert Cards

The mascot you could eat.

Mascot cards! FREAKIN’ MASCOT CARDS! Minor league hockey teams have some of the most ridiculously-awesome mascots — usually, just an animal with a stick, but so what? Oh man, I am so collecting all of these. 

Chubby > Carlton

The 2016-17 Upper Deck AHL set has cards of all 30 mascots. You get five mascot cards per box, which means that finding all of these wouldn’t be as impossible task. Of course, I would love if these cards were a part of the base set, but I am in the minority here. Still, it is nice to see the mascots get some love. 

1 Window Cling

The “box-topper” in this box was a window cling of an AHL team logo. Here I got the Grand Rapids Griffins, which is the farm team of the Detroit Red Wings. These measure 5″ wide by 4″ tall. 

What I like about 2016-17 Upper Deck AHL: The set features a nice cross-section of NHL prospects and AHL veterans, which should appeal to most fans of the AHL. The mascot cards are awesome. The window cling is more useful than the temporary tattoos from last year’s AHL set. 

What I do not like about 2016-17 Upper Deck AHL: Short-printing one-third of the cards makes putting this set together more challenging than it should be. Reducing the number of autographs lowers the excitement of busting a box. 

Rating 4 out of 5

Less autographs per box and 50 short-prints in a 150-card set are really the only knocks against what is otherwise a really solid set of hockey cards. It spans all 30 teams and includes minor league lifers and up-and-coming prospects, so that should make pretty much everyone happy — from prospect collectors to die-hard AHL fans. The mascot cards are all kinds of cool. Plus, for $40, you might end up a few autographs of future NHL stars. 

Does anyone plan on buying this year’s Upper Deck AHL cards? Will you try to get all 150 cards, including the 50 short-prints, or just the 100 card base set? What about the mascot cards? Will you collect those too? Leave a comment and let me know.  ■

Author: Sal Barry

Sal Barry is the editor and webmaster of Puck Junk. He is a freelance hockey writer, college professor and terrible hockey player. Follow him on Twitter @puckjunk

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