2021-22 has been a strange year for hockey card collectors. This season, there were still cards from the 2020-21 season coming out in the middle of the 2021-22 season. One such set is 2020-21 Upper Deck AHL, which features cards of future NHL prospects, as well as star players from the second-best hockey league in the world.
2020-21 Upper Deck AHL hockey cards costs around $50 for a 12-pack box. Each pack has 10 cards. Each box promises six “Star Rookie” cards, an autographed card, a numbered parallel, and an additional chase card.
I recently opened a box of 2020-21 Upper Deck AHL. Here is what I got.
105 Base Cards
Base cards feature a neat, uncluttered design with some silver foil striping at the bottom, as well as the Upper Deck logo in silver foil. That bit of foil makes the set feel like an Upper Deck Series One/Series Two set, instead of a low-end set like MVP. As usual, the photos are colorful and action-oriented.
Card backs are kind of odd because they have only one line of stats
But many of the players in this set have played numerous years in the “A,” such as Cal O’Reilly (13 seasons) and Ben Street (10 seasons). I know it can be a challenge to list out 10+ years of stats, but Upper Deck could have included up to five years of each player’s AHL stats. Up to five years of stats is what Upper Deck list out on most of its other sets of cards.
Base cards make up the first 150 cards of the set. Out of the 105 cards I received, none were doubles.
6 Star Rookies
Ah, yes…Star Rookies — otherwise known as Young Guns’ long-forgotten older brother. (In early 1990s Upper Deck hockey sets, Star Rookies were the RCs found in Series One, while Young Guns came later in Series Two or High Series packs.) Today, Star Rookies are basically the Young Guns of Upper Deck’s AHL sets.
You get one Star Rookie in every other pack. The six Star Rookies I got were Cole Caufield, Jamie Drysdale, Philip Tomasino, Thomas Harley, Evan Barratt, and Joel Hofer.
Personally, I like pre-rookie cards that show a player before he makes it to the NHL. I think most player collectors like those too, as it is fun to have cards that show a progression of a player’s career.
Star Rookies make up the next 50 cards of the set (151-200).
2 AHL All-Stars
The next six cards in the set (201-206) are of players who were named to the AHL All-Rookie Team. I did not get any of these, which are tough pulls at one in every 17 packs.
However, I did get two AHL All-Stars cards – Kaapo Kahkonen and Jacob MacDonald. There are 12 AHL All-Star Cards (207-218), and they are found once in every eight packs.
4 AHL Standouts
The final 52 cards in the set (219-250) are of AHL Standouts – either up-and-coming youngsters who are on their way to the NHL, or “lifers” who have played many years in the “A.” You get one AHL Standout in every three packs. The four that were in my box were Philip Tomasino, Samuel Bolduc, Ben Street, and Tyler Benson.
Basically, it’s just more cards of the same players found in the base set or Star Rookie subset, so these cards are kind of unnecessary — even more so since the card backs don’t offer any different information about the player, like a mini biography explaining why he is an “AHL Standout.”
1 Numbered Base Parallel Exclusives
Red base parallel cards are numbered out of 100 and use red ink and red foil instead of silver ink and silver foil. There are also Gold base parallels that are numbered out of 25.
These cards are noticeably-different from the front, but the backs look identical to the regular versions of the cards. The numbered parallel I got was a red foil Oscar Dansk card, numbered 098/100.
1 AHL Standout Exclusives
There are also UNNUMBERED parallels, like this red parallel of Tyler Benson. Parallels of the short-prints are found one in every 160 packs.
And finally, the autographed card! This sticker autograph is of Henderson Silver Knights right wing Lucas Elvenes, who has yet to make his NHL debut and has since been traded by the Vegas Golden Knights to the Anaheim Ducks. I always love getting autographed cards, and given the craziness of the past two years, I don’t even mind that it is a sticker auto.
2020-21 Upper Deck AHL is a fun break for the price. You get an autographed card, six “pre-rookie” cards of potentially-awesome future NHL players, and about 2/3 of a the base set for $50.
The only drawback of this set is that there are too many cards. Yes, cards of AHL All-Rookie Team and All-Star players are fine, but did it really need an AHL Standouts subset, which just adds another 52 cards of the same guys found in the base set or Star Rookie subset?
Regardless, if you like minor league hockey cards, then this is definitely a set worth picking up. And if you like “pre-rookie” cards, the 2020-21 Upper Deck AHL set is loaded with those, too.
Are you collecting the 2020-21 Upper Deck AHL hockey card set? Leave a comment and let me know, or hit me up on Twitter.
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk. ■