Hockey cards for the 2021-22 season finally started hitting store shelves at the end of 2021. First up was 2021-22 Upper Deck MVP Hockey, the company’s “lower-end” card set that isn’t too expensive to buy or too difficult to complete. It also doesn’t have any rookies from the 2021-22 season; the 30 rookie cards are of players who made their debut in the abbreviated 2021 season. A box of MVP has 20 packs with eight cards per pack. The current online price of MVP is around $50 for a hobby box. I recently got a hobby box. Here is what I found inside.
110 Base Cards
There are 200 base cards in 2021-22 MVP Hockey. None of the 110 base cards in my box were duplicates, so no collation problems here. I like the front and back designs, too. The front uses sort of an oval “puck shape” for the player photo. The back has a clean, easy-to-read layout.
20 Short Prints
You get one short-printed card in every pack. Short prints 201-220 are of star players, while 221-250 are rookie cards. One SP per pack is nice, but my only real complaint here is that 40% of the SPs are of veteran players. Sets like MVP used to only make the rookie cards short prints. It just seems wrong to make a set at a lower price point — presumably to attract younger collectors — and then make cards of veteran stars like Sidney Crosby, Patrick Kane (who graces the box front), and Auston Matthews tough to pull.
All 30 of the rookie cards are of players who made their NHL debut last season, so no players who debuted in October are here. However, there are a few notable rookies cards in MVP, including Cole Caufield, Quinton Byfield, Trevor Zegras, and Jeremy Swayman.
20 Ice Battles Parallels
Ice Battles parallels have simple gaming stats on the back and can be used for a “Pack Wars” game. I like the idea, but I wish these looked a little less like the base cards; maybe use a different border color?
5 Silver Scripts
Silver Scripts, which has been a staple of MVP forever, are back once again. You get one of these in every four packs.
1 Super Scripts Parallel
Super Scripts parallels look great, as they use quite a bit of rainbow foil on the fronts, including on the facsimilia autograph. They are also numbered out of 25 copies. This Viktor Arvidsson Super Scripts parallel is numbered 23/25.
4 Retro MVP Watch Inserts
This MVP Watch insert set is designed to look like the 2001-02 MVP Watch inserts from 20 years ago. There are also Gold and Super Script versions of these Watch inserts, but I didn’t get either of those.
4 Mascot Gaming Inserts
The Mascot Gaming cards are my favorite insert in MVP. Heck, the Mascot Gaming cards are probably my favorite insert from a set of hockey cards in a long time. These cards have rounded corners and are designed to look like Pokémon or Magic: the Gathering cards. They also have humorous “powers,” such as Carlton the Bear, who has a “FUR” rating of 6000 and a “BLBR” rating of 8000. The shiny background just makes these even more ridiculous, in a good way. Overall, these Mascot Gaming cards are very creative and breathe new life into the MVP brand. I got four of these cards in my box.
1 Mascot Gaming Patterned Foilboard
The “Patterned Foilboard” parallels of the Mascot Gaming cards fall one per box. As much as I love the Mascot Gaming inserts, I do not like the fact that there are parallels of these. It was unnecessary. Of course, the Patterned Foilboard parallels of these cards are a little brighter and a little more colorful than the “regular” versions. I do wish that the “Patterned Foilboard” versions were the only versions of these Mascot cards, but I guess for Mascot collectors (are there even such a thing?), having another card to chase is nice.
3 Before & After Inserts
At first glance, I thought this was a set that used a draft day photo and a current photo, but that’s not the case here. Before & After show a player in his street clothes and in uniform. So, that would be before a game and…during a game? Yeah, I’m overthinking it. Even though these cards use a shiny foil board background, I’m not really a fan. Now, if these used a draft day picture and a game-action photo, these would be sweet!
1 Hart Attack Insert
Hart Attack inserts use the same patterned foil board that the Before & After inserts use –and look pretty sweet! Generally speaking, I am a fan of any set that focuses on Hart Trophy candidates and/or winners, as they are always cards of great players.
1 Color and Contours Die-Cut Watch
Each box, on average, has one Colors & Contours die-cut card. This T.J. Oshie card is a “Gold” Colors & Contours card and is serial-numbered 199/250.
(But I think *all* T.J. Oshie cards should be numbered 4/6 because he was four-for-six in that epic shootout in the USA-Russia game at the 2014 Winter Olympics #TJSochi)
Colors & Contours cards look great when the light hits them just right. If there weren’t 100 of to chase down, I’d consider trying to build the set.
The 2021-22 MVP Hockey set is a solid effort by Upper Deck. The base card design is eye-catching without being overwhelming, and the “Ice Battles” parallels are an interesting idea, though a little more differentiation from the base design would have helped. But it is the Mascot Gaming inserts that really knocks MVP out of the rink for me. The cards are colorful, humorous — they’re just fun, which is what card collecting should be. Despite Upper Deck’s insistence of short-printing the star veteran players, MVP has enough variety to make for a fun break, and is inexpensive enough to complete.
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk. ■