2016-17 Upper Deck Series 1: All In For Auston

"It's all over for another year", as my sister would say. I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas a' la anything and everything else you may be celebrating. Personally, it has been great - Always a good time to be had when I am spending the Christmas season at home with all the family.

We arrived back home a day earlier than we had initially anticipated so there's some downtime tonight before we all hustle back to the daily grind. Perfect time to post the contents from the second of four 2016-17 Upper Deck blaster purchases from last week.

A warning in advance, it wasn't an overly exciting blaster.

#16 David Pastrnak, Boston Bruins
How about this guy, David Pastrnak - having a great season thus far accumulating nearly a point-per-game average for the Bruins. Boston could really use him right now as they have lost 6 of their last 9 games.

#5 Kevin Bieksa, Anaheim Ducks
#49 Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado Avalanche
Bieksa and Landeskog pimped up in retro third jerseys, sorta. The Ducks took to their Disney roots with the old-school Mighty Ducks logo and the Avalanche rocked a crest that gave tribute to the Colorado Rockies franchise.

#101 Brendan Gallagher, Montreal Canadiens
Fun guy to watch; not one to shy away from getting in the dirty areas and hanging out in the crease. The type of player who you tend to despise but would love to have on your team.

#93 Devan Dubnyk, Minnesota Wild
Having another solid season thus far backstopping the Wild. I've been hearing his name thrown around in Vezina talk lately, it's still early though, we'll have to see about the hardware.

#185 Andre Burakovsky, Washington Capitals
#196 Ondrej Pavelec, Winnipeg Jets
#191 Nicklas Backstrom, Washington Capitals
#119 Calvin de Haan, New York Islanders
#162 Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues
I've laid all my high hopes of a nice pull from these blasters on the Young Guns checklist. Featuring a strong crop of rookies, there's always a good possibility of scoring a promising rookie.

#203 Nick Sorensen, Anaheim Ducks YG RC
Nick Sorensen opened up the 2016-17 hockey season wearing an Anaheim Ducks jersey for 5 games before being sent down to the AHL with the San Diego Gulls.

#228 Sonny Milano, Columbus Blue Jackets YG RC
Milano has spent the majority of the season so far as a member of the Cleveland Monsters in the AHL, getting a taste of the big show with the Blue Jackets for 2 games.

#246 Justin Bailey, Buffalo Sabres YG RC
Like Sonny Milano, Justin Bailey has suited up for 2 National Hockey League with the Sabres while spending 29 games as a Rochester American.

#C24 Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado Avalanche
A 'UD Canvas' card of Gabriel Landeskog sharing a high five with Avalanche mascot Bernie, the St. Bernard was probably my favorite card from the entire blaster. What can I say, I'm a sucker for any piece of cardboard featuring a mascot.

The box also included a couple of 'Shining Stars' and 'UD Portraits' inserts along with a whopping 42 base doubles. Overall, I felt that the blaster wasn't anything special and the gamble in it didn't work out in my favor per say.


Giving 2012-13 Upper Deck Black Diamond A Whirl

Upper Deck Black Diamond has been a set that I've never been quite sure how I've felt about. Over the years, Black Diamond has kept their familiar foil heavy design that you either love or hate - the scanner seems to visually loathe the product.

2012-13 Black Diamond was released 4 years ago this month while the NHL lockout continued to drag on. Therefore, like most of the releases from 2012-13, the only rookies are those who debuted late the previous season and during the playoffs. In a nutshell, the rookie crop was weaker than usual. On the bright side, the slim pickings of notable rookies has severely lowered the cost of the majority of hobby boxes from that year - you can pick up a hobby box of Black Diamond for as low as $50-60.

Despite the lack of top rookies distributed in the product; Black Diamond offers quite a few unique inserts, memorabilia cards and autographs at an affordable price.

I rolled the dice and grabbed a couple of packs for cheap while at the flea market this past weekend.

#70 Mario Lemieux, Pittsburgh Penguins
Gotta start the pack scans off with 'Super Mario'. I'm going to guess that this photo of Mario was taken during the 2002-03 season as he is wearing the distinct Nike Quest helmet that he helped the company launch that year ('03). Lemieux's Nike contract expired September, 2003.

#98 Nathan Gerbe, Buffalo Sabres
I used to be into Gerbe because of his underdog size. As a vertical challenged person myself, all 5'5" of me, I've always cheered those guys on a little harder.

#85 Ryan Smyth, Edmonton Oilers
A card featuring Ryan Smyth in an Oilers sweater is like sitting at home by the fire, all is calm and all is right.

#60 Patrick Roy, Colorado Avalanche

#41 Dany Heatley, Minnesota Wild
#82 Alex Tanguay, Calgary Flames

#146 Brendan Smith, Detroit Red Wings - 2x Diamond
You may not be able to distinguish from the scan but this Brendan Smith is actually a Double Diamond short-print.

#57 Kari Lehtonen, Dallas Stars

#ATG-16 Chris Drury, Colorado Avalanche, Championship Rings (All Time Greats)

It was a very nice surprise to pull this sparkly acetate insert featuring Chris Drury of the Colorado Avalanche. At a rate of 1:168 packs, these 'Championship Rings All-Time Greats' fall at an average of 1 per case. A case hit, totally unexpected.

Drury received his Stanley Cup ring in 2001 after helping the Avalanche put-away the New Jersey Devils in the Stanley Cup Finals 4-3.


Completed Insert Set: 1996-97 Score Sudden Death

It took over five years in the making but a few months back I finally picked up the last couple of cards to complete one of my all-time favorite insert sets, 1996-97 Score Sudden Death.

Randomly inserted in hobby packs at a rate of 1:35, this 15-card holofoil set featured two action photos simulating matchups of some of the deadliest snipers against the league's top netminders.

The mid-late '90s is my beloved childhood hockey era so any inert set featuring the greats of the game during the time is totally up my alley. Pulling one of these cards seemed just as difficult as winning the lottery back in 7th grade; who knew that twenty years later you could buy the majority of 'em for a couple bucks.

I'm pretty sure I bought the final card (picture above) from eBay. Surprisingly, finding the final two cards deemed more difficult than I had imagined given that they're a set from the 90s.

I thought the player selection was pretty good. I would have personally switched out Pierre Turgeon for Peter Forsberg or Eric Lindros and replaced Corey Hirsch for Patrick Roy but that's just my opinion.

The most valuable card from the set book wise would probably be the Wayne Gretzky/Felix Potvin matchup, quite frankly because it's a Gretzky card.

Here are scans of the complete 1996-97 Score "Sudden Death" insert set for your viewing pleasures.

#1 Pierre Turgeon, Montreal Canadiens/Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils

#2 Steve Yzerman, Detroit Red Wings/Jim Carey, Washington Capitals

#3 Brendan Shanahan, Hartford Whalers/Dominik Hasek, Buffalo Sabres

#4 Ed Belfour, Chicago Blackhawks/Brett Hull, St. Louis Blues

#5 Jeremy Roenick, Chicago Blackhawks/Chris Osgood, Detroit Red Wings

#6 Pavel Bure, Vancouver Canucks/Curtis Joseph, Edmonton Oilers

#7 Mario Lemieux, Pittsburgh Penguins/John Vanbiesbrouck, Florida Panthers

#8 Alexander Mogilny, Vancouver Canucks/Jocelyn Thibault, Montreal Canadiens

#9 Jaomir Jagr, Pittsburgh Penguins/Mike Richter, New York Rangers

#10 Mark Messier, New York Rangers/Tom Barrasso, Pittsburgh Penguins

#11 Joe Sakic, Colorado Avalanche, Daren Puppa, Tampa Bay Lightning

#12 Wayne Gretzky, St. Louis Blues/Felix Potvin, Toronto Maple Leafs

#13 Paul Kariya, Anaheim Mighty Ducks/Corey Hirsch, Vancouver Canucks

#14 Sergei Fedorov, Detroit Red Wings/Ron Hextall, Philadelphia Flyers

#15 Teemu Selanne, Anaheim Mighty Ducks/Nikolai Khabibulan, Winnipeg Jets


2016-17 Upper Deck Series 1: Blaster Hunting For Auston.

Here I am, back again! I decided to start from scratch and pick the hobby back up for the meantime. I've just really missed collecting and blogging about hockey cards as a pastime.

What better way to kick things off than with Upper Deck's annual flagship release. A set that I have decided to pursue in putting together. As per usual, the set contains 200 cards featuring veteran players and as expected, 50 Young Guns cards - off course, I'll be chasing those as well.

Speaking of chasing, on a whim I broke the seal by picking up a few blasters. I thought it would be a good way to get my feet wet again while accumulating the base set as well as whatever inserts and Young Guns may fall. I'm not going to lie, pulling a coveted Auston Matthews rookie was certainly dancing like sugar plums in my head.

I've decided to post the contents of each box individually showing my favorite cards from each break.

In my opinion, the design looks fantastic! The photography selection is a step above from last years release as I thought there were way too many close-ups in the 2015-16 Upper Deck set.

#199 Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins/Joe Pavelski, San Jose Sharks CL
Let's strike the match with one of the two checklist cards included in the 200 card base set; featuring two captains who helped lead their teams to the Stanley Cup Finals last season.

#12 Mike Smith, Arizona Coyotes
I've always had a special place in my heart for the Phoenix Coyotes inaugural Aztec jersey.

#24 Ryan O’Reilly, Buffalo Sabres
I've recently taken a liking to Ryan O'Reilly since watching him play at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey as well as his tenure with the Buffalo Sabres thus far.

#99 Alex Galchenyuk, Montreal Canadiens
Galchenyuk has been an exciting player to watch for the Canadiens. Hell, I'll swallow my pride and go so far as to say that the Habs have been a fun team to watch this season in general.

#112 Adam Henrique, New Jersey Devils
Another throwback jersey and just in time; very festive looking Henrique!

#121 John Tavares, New York Islanders
Nice shot of one of my favorite players in the league right now.

#146 Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
#144 Matt Murray, Pittsburgh Penguins
Despite having very solid numbers for a rookie netminder, Murray's name doesn't drop as much as Laine and Matthews when it comes to the 2017 Calder race. I think the fact that he is technically still considered a rookie is overshadowed by how much he stood between the pipes for Pittsburgh and accomplished last season during the playoffs.

#145 Phil Kessel, Pittsburgh Penguins
Nice card featuring Phil the Thrill in the retro Penguins threads.

#148 Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks
It's crazy how far this guy has come in the NHL. From being moved around like currency, Burns has finally found his place as a Shark. From helping San Jose make a Stanley Cup Finals appearance, capturing the World Cup and being an early favorite for the Norris Trophy - Burns has taken his hockey career to new levels.

#131 Bobby Ryan, Ottawa Senators
Here's a card capturing one of the feel good moments from last season. Spoiler alert: Ryan scored a goal in the second period and the kids received their puppy as promised which they conveniently named 'Bobby'.

#152 Logan Couture, San Jose Sharks

#180 Derek Dorsett, Vancouver Canucks

#183 Ryan Miller, Vancouver Canucks

#195 Dustin Byfuglien, Winnipeg Jets

#212 Kyle Connor, Winnipeg Jets YG RC
Kyle Connor was picked in the 1st round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft and has seen a fair share of ice with the Winnipeg Jets so far into the season.

#215 Zach Sanford, Washington Capitals YG RC
I'm unfamiliar with Zach Sanford but he has seen 19 games with the Capitals thus far this season, recording one assist.

#244 Austin Czarnik, Boston Bruins YG RC
Czarnik has been a regular member of the Bruins lineup, recently snapping a 16-game goalless drought.

C113 Lawson Crouse, Arizona Coyotes YG
Although my Young Guns weren't named Matthews or Laine, I did end up with a consolation prize - a 4th Young Gun, a UD Canvas to boot. The UD Canvas Young Guns are a tougher pull than their normal counterparts so it's always more special when you uncover one.

Lawson Crouse has been having a promising rookie year with the Coyotes, developing into a valuable role-player on the team whilst showing flashes of power-forward potential.

I also pulled a couple UD Portraits and Shining Stars but those insert sets haven't 'done it for me' since their inclusion in the annual flagship roll-out.

It was a fairly decent tin of cards overall, no complaints here. I picked up nearly half the base set and although I didn't hit any of the highly touted rookies that I was hoping for, it was a good mix of cards all-around. I'm looking forward to sharing what's inside the next box.
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