Box Break: 2016-17 SP Authentic Hockey

Upper Deck’s SP Authentic was released during the 2016-17 playoffs. The set is known for its white backgrounds and being tough to put together — usually consisting of around 100 base cards and another 100 short prints. 

Over the past several seasons, SP Authentic has become the set where Upper Deck sneaks in some “Upper Deck Update” cards into its packs; cards that resemble Series One/Two and feature late-season trades and surprise rookies.

SP Authentic is the first set to be a part of Upper Deck’s new “Bounty Program,” which encourages collectors to put together a special insert set to redeem for even more tough-to-find cards. 

2016-17 SP Authentic costs about $150 online for an 18-pack box. Each pack contains five cards. Recently, I opened a box. Here is what I found inside. 

71 Base Cards

Just like every SP Authentic set in the past 10 years or so, this year’s base set uses primarily white and gray backgrounds, with some colored shapes in the background. I will admit, SP Authentic’s relatively clean design has grown on me over the years. My one complaint is the use of photos that show the player in their white road jerseys; the white-on-white isn’t as appealing, whereas the photos of players in their dark home uniforms really pop. The cards themselves have a matte finish, except for the players, who are spot-varnished with a gloss coat. The first 100 cards comprise the base set, which is of veteran players. 

Card backs list up to five years of statistics, which is usual for SP Authentic. Fortunately, the short biographical blurb uses black text against a white background, making it super-easy to read. Hooray for legibility! 

Also nice is that of the 71 base cards, none were doubles. 

4 Authentic Moments Short Prints

The next 15 cards in the set are of “Authentic Moments” from the 2015-16 season. These are found, on average, of one in every four packs. 

3 Autographed Cards

Future Watch #142 – Oskar Sundqvist
The next 82 cards are of 2016-17 rookies. These are found one per box. That makes SP Authentic a 197-card set — quite an odd number, literally and figuratively, for a hockey set. Why not throw in a few more “Authentic Moments” cards to make SP Authentic an even 200? 

Sign of the Times #SOTT-RS – Ryan Spooner
My second autograph was a part of the “Sign of the Times” set, which uses a horizontal layout. 

Great White North #GWN-AM – Anthony Mantha
SP Authentic boasts “at least two” autographs per box. I lucked out and got three — my third being of Anthony Mantha with Team Canada. If you use your imagination, you can see a capital “A” followed by half of an “M,” and “th8.” 

All autographs are signed on-card in blue ink. 

2 Spectrum Cards

These Spectrum inserts are the reason for the reduction in guaranteed autographs per box, from three to two, this year. Anyone who collects all 99 of these Spectrum cards can redeem the codes on the back for an Auston Matthews card, as well as a gold parallel Spectrum set. Of course, some of the Spectrum “Future Watch” rookie cards are found one in every twenty boxes. This will be a tough set for anyone to put together. 

(Also, I just realized that the first two letters of “Spectrum” are “SP”…well played, Upper Deck.) 

Enclosed in my box of SP Authentic was this flyer that details the Bounty Program further. 

For more information on the Upper Deck Bounty Program, visit

Moving on…

4 Silver Skates Insert Cards

Are they still doing Silver Skates? Apparently so. It’s hard to see, but the text is in silver foil, naturally. 

4 2016-17 Upper Deck Update Base Cards

Rene Bourque is ALSO surprised that he isn’t in the KHL.

I love Upper Deck Series One and Series Two, but have mixed feelings about Upper Deck Update cards being sneaked into SP Authentic. I love the fact that Upper Deck Series One/Two is expanded with late-season trades, surprise players, and more rookies. But I’d rather it be its own stand-alone set, instead of inserted into SP Authentic. 

1 2016-17 Upper Deck Update Young Guns

In addition to four base cards of veteran players, I also pulled one Young Guns card, which are found once in every 13 packs. The best of the 10 Young Guns possible is Penguins breakout rookie Jake Guentzel. Me? I got A.J. Breer, FWIW. 

1 2016-17 Upper Deck Update Season Highlights

Even harder to find than a Young Guns card is a Season Highlights card, found one in every 26 packs. One down, four to go. 

What I like about 2016-17 SP Authentic: The design of the base set is clean and eye-catching. You always get an insert card — sometimes two — in every pack. The Spectrum cards have a nice look to them. The Upper Deck Update cards are awesome. Autographs are signed on-card in blue ink. 

What I do not like about 2016-17 SP Authentic: Honestly, I’m not a big fan of the Bounty idea, because there is no way that someone with modest means like me would even have a chance of completing that set. Also, the price went up this year; boxes used to cost less and have more packs, and thus more cards. 

Rating 4 out of 5

While the price might be higher than in years past, there’s enough upside to consider SP Authentic. True, you might not want to track down all of the Spectrum inserts, but someone is going to, and if you land a good one it should get some value on the secondary market. (Derek Stepan, not so much.) There will always be a demand, though perhaps not high value, for most of the Upper Deck Update cards. Plus, the base set is easy enough to put together. 

Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk


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

2 thoughts on “Box Break: 2016-17 SP Authentic Hockey”

  1. So you have to scratch the backs of the cards to get the codes? I’m gonna guess that will kill the value on the second hand market. But at $150 a box, they are probably easy to flip for those who are trying collect that bounty.

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