Release the Kraken Hockey Cards!!!
The Seattle Kraken hit the ice as the NHL’s newest team last fall. But despite the interest in all things Kraken, Upper Deck was slow in releasing hockey cards of Kraken players. Oh sure, there was that ONE Kraken card of Philipp Grubauer in the 2022 National Hockey Card Day USA set. There was also ONE Kraken card — a rookie card! — of Kole Lind in the 2021-22 Parkhurst set…but it actually pictures Nathan Bastian. Whoops! Finally, a handful of Kraken were included in Upper Deck Series Two.
But just as the 2022 Stanley Cup Finals were coming to a close, Upper Deck released the Seattle Kraken Commemorative Box Set, which contains 35 cards and includes many of the players who took to the ice in the Kraken’s inaugural campaign.
Player Selection (3.5 out of 5)
It might be a little unfair to compare the Kraken’s on-ice success — or lack thereof — to the Vegas Golden Knights, who joined the NHL four seasons before Seattle. After all, the Golden Knights made it all the way to to the Stanley Cup Finals in their first year, while the Kraken were the second-worst team in their first season.
Likewise, it might be unfair to compare the Seattle Kraken Boxed Set to the 2017-18 Las Vegas Golden Knights Boxed Set — but I’m going to do it anyway. The Golden Knights’ Boxed Set included each and every of the 35 players who appeared in at least one game for the Knights in their first year, including the team’s fifth-string goalie! But the Seattle Kraken Commemorative Box Set has only 23 of the 38 players who suited up for the Kraken during their inaugural campaign in 2021-22.
Granted, some of those players were traded away before the end of the season, and Upper Deck is still dealing with production delays caused by COVID-19. But NONE of the players included in this Kraken set are rookies, which seems like a missed opportunity considering that the set came out at the end of the season.
Front Design (4 out of 5)
Card fronts are full-bleed on three sides and have a border on the bottom. The bottom border has the various blues — as well as a hint of red — that are used on the Kraken uniforms. The Kraken logo, Upper Deck logo, and team name are embossed in silver foil. The design is straightforward, but the team name “Seattle KRAKEN” stamped in silver foil is a wee bit distracting, especially when it overlaps the pictured player.
Stats & Info / Back Design (3 out of 5)
Card backs recycle the same photo as the front, have vitals like height and weight, up to three years of stats and career totals, and…uhhh…that’s it. There is no short biographical blurb about the player. Heck, even a few more lines of stats would have helped to fill out the design, which feels a bit empty. The Kraken’s “anchor” shoulder logo is ghosted behind the stats, which is a nice touch.
Subset Quality (5 out of 5)
The last seven cards are “Inaugural Season Highlights,” which spotlight some of the biggest moments in the team’s young history: the Expansion Draft, the team first game, first home game, first goal, first win, and first hat trick. The last “Highlight” card is of Alexander True, who is the first player from the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds to play for the Kraken.
It would have been nice to have also had a card that noted Chris Driedger earning the team’s first shutout on April 29, 2022, but that was the Kraken’s last home game of the season, and the set was probably well into production by then.
Each boxed set includes five insert cards that use different-colored foil stamping. Gold Parallels are unnumbered. Red Parallels are numbered out of 2021. Blue Parallels are numbered out of 32. Gold Spectrum Parallels are numbered 1/1.
One out of every 45 boxed sets have an autographed card — but one in every 250 boxes has a short-printed autograph. (I’m wondering who the short-printed “chase autograph” autograph would be. Joran Eberle, perhaps?) My set did not have an autographed card, but if it did that would not change my opinion of this set.
The 2021-22 Seattle Kraken Commemorative Box Set contains 30 base cards plus five parallel cards. One in every 45 sets contains an autographed card. The set originally retailed for $30 online.
Just as the Vegas Golden Knights were a tough act for the Seattle Kraken to follow, the Kraken Box Set is not as good as the Golden Knights Box Set. The Kraken Bos Set has less cards, features less players — including zero rookies — and is tougher to pull an autographed card. That all said, the Kraken Box Set is still a worthwhile pickup if you like the Kraken, like small sets, like buying complete sets, want something unique in your collection — or all of the above.
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk. ■