Upper Deck’s 2021-22 American Hockey League card set was released in the late summer of 2022 and features the top 150 players in “The A.”
That’s right– only 150 players. After last year’s 200-card set, Upper Deck cut back its 2021-22 AHL set to a more manageable size. Instead of 150 base cards and 50 “Star Rookies,” this year’s set has 100 base cards and 50 Star Rookies.
You got your mix of prospects — many who have already made an appearance in the NHL — as well as bubble players and “lifers” who spent the majority of their career in the league.
A box of 2021-22 Upper Deck AHL hockey cards costs about $50. Each box has 12 packs with 10 cards each. Boxes contain at least one autographed card, plus 12 Star Rookies cards, and one parallel card.
Let’s see what I got in my box of 2021-22 Upper Deck AHL Hockey.
93 Base Cards
My box of 2021-22 Upper Deck AHL hockey cards had 93 base cards, and none were doubles of each other. This puts me at only seven cards shy of having the complete, 100-card base set.
Card backs have just one line of stats from the player’s most-recent season in the AHL, vitals like height and weight, and a short bio paragraph — and a lot of empty space at the bottom. It would be nice if the text was a little bigger since the design had room to spare.
Also, if a player did not play any games in the AHL in 2020-21, then his line of stats is from 2019-20.
Such is the case with Jake Oettinger, who spent 2020-21 with the Dallas Stars, so his card shows his AHL stats from two seasons ago. But since a lot of these guys are “bubble players” who get recalled to the parent club every now and then, it would have been nice to show ALL their pro hockey stats from the prior year: NHL, AHL and/or ECHL.
13 Star Rookies
You are supposed to get one Star Rookies card per pack, but one of my packs had two Star Rookies. So, I got 13 total. Last year’s boxes of AHL contained only six Star Rookies, meaning that you’d have to buy nine boxes to try and get all of them. But this year, it is literally twice as easy to get all of the Star Rookies. I think this was a great move by Upper Deck; make the set a little easier to build, and you might get more collectors interested in minor league hockey cards.
Card backs of the Star Rookie cards show the player’s most-recent stats from the last league he played in, be it college, junior, or in Europe.
7 AHL All-Star Inserts
There are 30 different AHL All-Stars. My box had seven of these cards, so this is another insert set that won’t be too difficult to knock out.
4 AHL Captains Inserts
AHL Captains inserts cards honor 14 different players who wear the “C” for their team. (Why not make one of these cards for all 32 AHL clubs?) These cards have a neat-looking design, with a big shiny silver foil “C” and a cosmic background that looks like it came straight from Skybox Metal Universe.
1 Red Parallel Card #/100
It’s red…and a parallel…and serial-numbered out of 100. What else can I say?
1 Star Rookies Red Parallel #/100
I could see Star Rookie Red Parallels becoming popular if the pictured player ends up having a great NHL career.
It’s a sticker ‘graph, but what do you expect? I gotta say that Logan Hutsko has a nice-looking signature for a young player, whose autograph is usually noting more than a little squiggle. He was nearly a point-per-game player in college (101 points in 114 games) and had a decent first year of pro hockey last year with the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers, scoring 10 goals and 28 assists in 71 games. He might crack the Florida Panthers roster this year.
And that’s part of what makes collecting Upper Deck AHL cards fun. You might end up with a “pre-rookie” or autograph — or both — of a player who may go onto NHL stardom.
Upper Deck finally got it right with its 2021-22 AHL hockey card set. A box isn’t too expensive and a base set isn’t too hard to put together. (Two boxes should do the trick!) And with 12 Star Rookie cards per box instead of six like last year, putting together the rookie subset is much easier, too. The cards are a good mix of players who are fan-favorites and up-and-comers. If you like minor league hockey cards, then the 2021-22 Upper Deck AHL set is a must-have. If you are a casual hockey card collector who is looking for something different, or wants “pre-RCs” of future NHLers, you should give this set a try.
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk. ■