Each year, hockey card collecting really doesn’t heat up until the release of Upper Deck Series One. Sure, there are other sets released before Series One launches, usually in November. But it is Series One that gets everyone excited about hockey card collecting — from the casual collectors, to the die-hard hockey peeps, to the breakers, speculators and “hobby bros..” It’s the new crop of Young Guns rookie cards that gets everyone involved.
Like it has been for over a decade, a box of Upper Deck Series One has 24 packs per box, with each pack containing eight cards. I recently got my hands on a hobby box of 2022-23 Upper Deck Series One Hockey. Let’s take a look at what I got.
I’ve collected hockey cards for over 30 years, and in that time I’ve seen a lot of bad cards. Really bad cards. So, in 2017, I started the Puck Junk Bad Hockey Card Hall of Fame to spotlight the worst hockey cards ever made.
Just as the Hockey Hall of Fame is enshrining new members this weekend, so too is the Puck Junk Bad Hockey Card Hall of Fame. This year, 10 pieces of cardboard get honored for being horrible — be it for bad photography, bad paintjobs, or just being awful all around.
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.
Upper Deck MVP is usually the first new hockey card set to hit the shelves, and this year was no exception. The 2022-23 MVP Hockey set was released in early September, roughly one month before the season started. MVP is relatively-affordable and easy enough to put together, usually weighing in at 200 base cards and 50 short prints.
A hobby box of 2022-23 MVP costs around $60. Each box has 20 eight-card packs for a total of 160 cards. Although I reviewed this set in an episode of the Puck Junk Podcast last month, I thought you might like to see what is inside a hobby box of MVP.
Don’t call it Series Three! The 2021-22 Upper Deck Extended Series Hockey card set was released in August of 2022, and adds another 250 cards to Upper Deck’s Series One/Two set. Extended Series has 200 base cards and 50 Young Guns rookie cards; technically 198 base cards, two base checklists, 49 Young Guns, and one Young Guns checklist. This makes Upper Deck’s flagship set a whopping 750 cards over three series.
Admittedly, there was less fervor over the release of Extended Series as there was for Series One and Series Two; perhaps because it doesn’t have the big-name rookies like Series One (Cole Caufield, Trevor Zegras) or Series Two (Moritz Seider, Mason McTavish) had.
However, what it does have is a plethora of interesting, retro insert cards; some styled to look like cards from the mid-2000s, and others that have designs inspired by late 1990s hockey cards.
2021-22 Upper Deck Extended Series is currently selling for around $100 for a hobby box. Each hobby box has 24 packs, and each pack has eight cards. Let’s take a look at what is inside a box of Extended Series.
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.
Upper Deck Series Two usually comes out in March or April — just in time for the Spring Sport Card and Memorabilia Expo. However, with all of the delays and production problems, due in large part to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021-22 Upper Deck Series Two set did not see its release until mid June of 2022 — right as the Stanley Cup Final was underway. Late or not, Series Two is always a hotly-anticipated hockey card set, as it features cards of many rookies who made their debut earlier that season.
Originally a hobby box of Series Two was selling for around $100, but has since settled to about $90 per box. Each box has 24 packs, and each pack has eight cards. Let’s see what’s inside a hobby box of 2021-22 Upper Deck Series Two Hockey.
SP Authentic is perhaps best known for its popular Future Watch autographed rookie cards — and its sparse, mostly-white base card design. Like many of Upper Deck’s other hockey cards from 2020-21, SP Authentic also had a very late release. In fact, SP Authentic was not released until June 29, 2022 — three days after the 2022 Stanley Cup Finals concluded.
Fortunately, though, SP Authentic was not cancelled like other sets for the shortened 2020-21 season. And that’s a good thing, because personally, I’ve always liked SP Authentic’s clean base card design and on-card autographs. And the Future Watch autographed rookie cards may be second in popularity only to Upper Deck Young Guns when it comes to hockey rookie cards among collectors.
However, SP Authentic is more expensive now, costing around $300 for an 18-pack box. Each pack has five cards, and each box guarantees two autographed cards.
I recently got a box of 2020-21 SP Authentic. Let’s see what cards were inside.
Premier Hockey is another high-quality, premium set by Upper Deck, similar to Stature and Ultimate Collection, which offer just a handful of cards per box. And like Stature and Ultimate Collection, the 2020-21 Premier Hockey set came out almost a good year after intended, as it was released towards the end of the 2021-22 season. This is great if you are still hoping to get rookie cards of Kirill Kaprizov, Alexis Lafreniere, or other players who made their debut during the shortened 2020-21 season.
2020-21 Premier Hockey costs around $400 for a six-card box. Every box should net you three autograph and/or memorabilia cards, plus an acetate autographed patch card. Well, that last card has me intrigued; it has an autograph, a piece of jersey patch AND is an acetate card, a la “Clear Cut.” I can’t wait to see what that looks like! You also get an additional numbered rookie card and a base card — or a parallel of either.
OK, let’s open this bad boy up and see what we’ve got!
The 2020-21 Ultimate Collection hockey set was released towards the end of the 2021-22 season; about a year after it should have come out. But better late than never, as they say. Even though many hockey card collectors had already turned their attention to the new crop of rookies found in the ’21-22 sets, like Trevor Zegras and Moritz Seider, Upper Deck wasn’t done enticing us with last year’s rookies — players like Kirill Kaprizov, Jason Robertson, Tim Stutzle, and Alexis Lafreniere.
A box of 2020-21 Ultimate Collection Hockey cots around $240 per box and contains four cards. I recently got a box of Ultimate Collection. Let’s see what $240 gets you.