Fall brings with it two things. The start of a new NHL season and a bunch of hockey card releases.
There’s nothing like ripping packs while watching games. Those looking to scratch that rip itch have lots of releases to look forward to between now and the end of the calendar year.
Here are five releases (with release dates) to watch for over the next three months:
2023-24 Tim Horton’s Hockey (Out now)
This is the annual set that makes every American hockey fan wish they lived north of the border. Packs are available for purchase at Tim Horton shops across Canada.
The 120-card set and album, put out in conjunction with Upper Deck, is typically made available at the start of the NHL season. Using foil stock, the set features current stars – although Maple Leafs legend and the popular coffee shop’s namesake Tim Horton leads off the checklist again.
The set also features inserts for collectors to chase. The new addition already getting attention are Ice Gems. Six players make up this tough pull, including stars Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby.
What I do: I sometimes buy singles on eBay, but the Sport Card Expo in Toronto next month is a great place to pick up singles or the entire base set and an album if you’re a set collector.
2023-24 Artifacts (October 11)
This season’s Upper Deck Artifacts Hockey checklist features 250 base cards. There are also plenty of subsets to chase here: Stars (#101-135; #/599), Goalies (#136-155; #/599), Legends (#156-170; #/599) and Rookies (#171-200; #/999).
This season’s set features 15 parallels, two of which – Polychrome (#/65) and Party Time (#/10) – are new and tougher to pull. There are also rookie redemptions, relics and autographs to collect.
What I do: I usually buy a few packs at my local card store, but I wait to grab singles on eBay once prices settle down.
2023 Leaf Ultimate Hockey (October 11)
Back for the first time since the 2019-20 season, Leaf Ultimate Hockey is back. This set is for those looking to score some sweet singles since there are only three cards in each box.
All the cards are rare – numbered to 25 or less – and as many as five multi-signed cards can be found per case. Leaf Ultimate Hockey isn’t limited to autos. It also features several memorabilia cards, including Ultimate Book and The XCellent Seven.
What I do: I don’t usually buy Leaf products, but picking up a nice auto card at a future show isn’t entirely out of the question if I see them in the wild.
2023-24 Upper Deck Series 1 (Nov. 1)
It doesn’t quite feel like the start of a new season without Upper Deck Hockey Series 1, the card company’s flagship release. And yes, for those casual hockey collectors, this is also the set that features Young Guns.
Those looking to try and pull Chicago Blackhawks phenom Connor Bedard’s Young Guns card will have to wait until UD Hockey Series 2, which is scheduled for release in late February. That hasn’t stopped collectors from pre-ordering the product, potentially making it one of the most-popular new hockey releases that we’ve seen in a very long time.
Back to Series 1. Regulars will notice a change. For the first time in two decades, Upper Deck has put in a new configuration regarding hobby boxes: 12 cards per pack and 12 packs per box (for 144 cards total) to replace the standard eight cards per pack and 24 packs per box (192 total). Every pack now has an average of three inserts instead of one.
What I do: I buy a box the week Series 1 comes out. I usually pick up a second box – in an effort to get the base set – to up my odds of getting more Young Guns. And yes, I pick up blasters and fat packs at Target if I see them.
2022-23 Clear Cut (December 20)
You read that correctly. Clear Cut that will be UD’s last release of 2023 is actually a combo from the 2020-21 and 2021-22 season in an effort to keep catching up from the delays that resulted from the pandemic.
This is a premium set. Every box contains either a 2021-22 or a 2022-23 Clear Cut autograph card (that comes sealed in a one-touch) or a redemption (for an autograph card) from one of the two seasons. All redemption cards are accompanied by a bonus Canvas Rookie Debuts card, which is also sealed in a one-touch.
The 200-card base set features autographed cards from rookies, current stars and legends. There are three low-#’d parallels as well: Exclusives (#’d to 65, 35 or 15), High Gloss (#’d to 10) and One-of-Ones.
What I do: I have not purchased Clear Cut. I don’t see myself breaking that streak this year.
As you can see, there’s plenty here to keep collectors both busy and spending in the coming weeks and months.
Clemente Lisi is a lifelong Rangers fan who first started collecting cards in 1986. He collects both vintage and modern with a focus on rookie cards. Follow him on Twitter @ClementeLisi.