Upper Deck Extends Exclusive Hockey Card Deals with NHL and NHLPA, Adds NFTs

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Both the NHL and NHLPA are sticking with Upper Deck. The card maker’s exclusive hockey card deal with both bodies has been extended once again. This time, though, NFTs are being added to the mix.

“Upper Deck continues to be a staple for hockey enthusiasts with proven track-record of offering a broad range of trading cards and other collectible offerings that appeal to and engage new and existing fans and collectors of all ages,” said Brian Jennings, the NHL’s Chief Branding Officer and Senior Executive Vice President.

Don Fehr, NHLPA Executive Director added, “We look forward to continuing to build on our partnership and offer the highest quality traditional cards, as well as innovative digital collecting opportunities.”

Upper Deck has held the NHL license since 1990-91. It started with their flagship line, which hasn’t missed a season. In the decades since, Upper Deck’s product’s have evolved alongside the hobby. Autographs, memorabilia and redefining high-end lines are among their innovations.

Of course, there are the Upper Deck hockey staples like Young Guns and SP Authentic’s Future Watch autographs.

The card maker’s first run with the hockey exclusive was in 2004, which continued to 2010-11 when Panini joined them for a few years. It was back to an exclusive for again Upper Deck in 2014-15, a deal that was last renewed in 2019.

This year has brought a lot of pending change to the sports card landscape. Fanatics signed exclusives with the MLB, MLBPA, NBAPA and NFLPA set to kick in once current deals with Topps and Panini expire.

Upper Deck Evolution NFT Platform

Upper Deck’s deal isn’t just for hockey cards this time. Trading card NFTs are also going to be included.

They will be part of a new platform Upper Deck plans to launch later in the winter called Evolution.

“With our proven track record and omni-channel strategy, we are able to empower the end-consumer to engage with the hobby through whatever way they prefer, whether trading card shops, mass retailers, direct to consumer, or online. For now, and into the future,” said Jason Masherah, Upper Deck President.

Evolution is a name they have used in a couple of different ways over the years. Most recently, it was about a decade ago for their foray into video trading cards.

The length of the renewal was not announced beyond it being a long-term deal.

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Ryan Cracknell

A collector for much of his life, Ryan focuses primarily on building sets, Montreal Expos and interesting cards. He's also got one of the most comprehensive collections of John Jaha cards in existence (not that there are a lot of them). Got a question, story idea or want to get in touch? You can reach him by email and through Twitter @tradercracks.

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