By Stephen Laroche | Beckett Hockey Editor
When it comes to making cards of members of Canada’s national junior team, Upper Deck has a long tradition that goes back to their first season of making hockey cards back in 1990-91.
At that time, collectors busting packs and boxes were on the hunt for the first trading cards of future stars like Scott Niedermayer and Felix Potvin and especially for the coveted Canada’s Captains card featuring the then-white hot Eric Lindros.
Over the years, the rules on licensing changed and in time, the company was not allowed to continue the practice. However, they have been able to get back to featuring some members of Team Canada in their products in recent years. This fall, collectors can finally expect them to finally put together a set dedicated to World Junior participants and by early indications, 2014-15 Upper Deck Team Canada Juniors has the potential to be a winner.
The biggest name touted for this collection is Connor McDavid, who will be appearing on his first Upper Deck cards. Regarded as the likely first overall pick in next year’s NHL Entry Draft, collectors will be hearing a lot about him in the upcoming months as he stars for the OHL’s Erie Otters and makes a likely return to Canada’s roster for the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship. There are also several other promising talents slated for this release, including Jonathan Drouin, Aaron Ekblad and Sam Reinhart.
Game-used memorabilia will be one of the biggest draws to this product for many collectors and both the men’s and women’s national teams are represented. According to early sales solicitations, every box is guaranteed to have six hits and one is guaranteed to be a signature patch card numbered to 199 or less. Another great highlight are the Jumbo Patch cards that will spell out the word “Canada” and are numbered to 99.
Plenty of autographs will be found in the product as well and some of scarcer versions will take the form of Base Set Black Autos (numbered to five) in addition to the dazzling With Flying Colors (numbered to 10) that have manufactured flag patches.
One in three packs will deliver a Special Edition SE regular or Gold card, but the potential big chase among the non-memorabilia inserts are two different die-cut acetate sets. Single players will be the focus of Clear Cut Playing for a Nation and will be numbered to 75, but the Combos version will be more limited (numbered to 25) and depict an additional player.
There will also be a small 100-card base set which will be augmented by 50 short prints which are expected to be found once per back. There are also several parallel versions to collect, starting with Gold Sepia that fall 1:6 for base and 1:10 for SPs. From there, it gets a bit more challenging through traditional Upper Deck favorites in Exclusives (numbered to 199 and 99) and High Gloss (numbered to 25 and 10) in addition to the always-popular one-of-one Printing Plates.
Stephen Laroche is the editor of Beckett Hockey and Beckett Basketball magazines. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an e-mail to him at SLaroche@beckett.com. Follow him on Twitter @Stephen_Laroche.