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Group Break entries are now closed, the boxes have been ordered and secondary teams have been randomized. Follow THIS LINK for final team assignments.

Monday, September 26, 2016

2015-16 SP Authentic Box Break (Major Connor McDavid Hit!!!)

Next to The Cup, SP Authentic is one of the most sought after products released by Upper Deck every year. Upper Deck has done a great job of building the prestige of its rookie cards, from the Young Guns of the flagship product to the Rookie Patch Autos of the Cup, and with SP Authentic, we have the Future watch autos and auto patches.

I've only opened one box of SP Authentic before and did really well, pulling a redemption for a Bo Horvat Future Watch Patch Auto, which I then traded for 3 out of 4 Sidney Crosby printing plates from 2011-12 Pinnacle. I was hoping this box would be just as good, so let's see what I got!

From the base cards, I got players from 2 out of 3 of my player collections with Sidney Crosby and Zach Parise (Shane Doan doesn't have a base card in this set, just a high-priced Franchise Icons SP). The base cards stay similar to past year's thematically, but like years past, they work out amazing for IP or TTM autos, which is always a plus for me.

I also got 4 Legends SPs, which are included at a rate of 1:5 packs, which are nice, especially when one of those Legends is Wayne Gretzky

Next on the SP portion of the base set it the All-Time Moments and Authentic Momemts, which chronicle specific events from the past season (Authentic Moments) and seasons past (All-Time Moments). Cards featuring individual players are inserted at a rate of 1:13 packs, while those with multiple players, like the Joe Sakic/Patric Roy that I pulled are 1:50

To close the base set out is the Future Watch rookie cards, which are always the big draw of this particular product. I only got one unsigned Future Watch card, of Ottawa Senators rookie Ryan Dzingel. He played in 30 NHL games this year, scoring 3 goals and 6 assists, and considering the variety of rookie cards that make it in to products each year, you could do a lot worse.

As far as inserts go, on of the ones I like is the Updates, with gives updated cards of the flagship product to players who changed teams throughout the season, and Young Guns rookies to players who made their NHL debut late in the season.

Lastly on the insert list is the 1995-96 Retro cards, which pay tribute to the SP cards from that particular year.

Now to the hits. Each box of SP Authentic is guaranteed to contain three autographed cards, and all of them are hard-signed, which is a major plus for me. The first is from the long-running Sign of the Times insert set signed by Matt Beleskey of the Boston Bruins.

While I ended up with only one unsigned Future Watch rookie card, I did pull two autographed ones. The first is of Calgary Flames. Poirier spent most of the 2015-16 season with the AHL's Abbotsford Heat, making it to the NHL for just two games

As underwhelming as that one was, my final hit more than makes up for it, as I pulled one of the biggest cards from this product, with a Connor McDavid Future Watch Autographed card! Of course, like many players of this era, McDavid has a scribble for a signature, but all things considered, it is still a great-looking card. The design works really well, as it is able to showcase the player image, as well as the autograph, and all of the white surface on the card really makes the important elements stand out. Of course, regardless of looks, the fact that I pulled one of the top 5 cards of a once-in-a-generation type of player, makes it all that much better.

Of course, the fact that I pulled such an amazing card may sway my opinion, but I thought that the was a great product. The base cards look good, the inserts are cool, and there is a really good chance you could pull something major. Combine all of that with a decent price point, and this is really a great product to take a good chance at.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Top 10 Pack Pulls of 2016

Here's a running tab of the top 10 cards I have been lucky enough to pull from packs during the 2016 calendar year.

Updated 9/26/2016

10. 2015-16 Fleer Showcase Jonathan Quick Jersey /99

9. 2015-16 Contours Sean Couturier Youth Movement /399

8. 2015-16 Contours CM Punk High Profile Fans

7. 2015-16 Contors Oscar Lindberg Rookies /499

6. 2015-16 Fleer Showcase Guy Lafleur Jersey /25

5. 2015-16 Fleer Showcase Nikolay Goldobin Hot Prospects Rookie Auto Patch /499

4. 2015-16 SPX Connor Hellebuyck Rookies Auto Jersey

3. 2015-16 Exquisite Mikko Rantanen Rookies /249

2. 2015-16 Ice Seth Jones Rinkside Signings

1. 2015-16 SP Authentic Connor McDavid Future Watch Autograph

Friday, September 16, 2016

2015-16 Upper Deck Ice Box Break

I bought this box, like three months ago, did the scans and everything, but just never got around to posting it Anyway, I want to get this up, so I suppose I'll just power through it, with brief analysis, before I get my next boz of cards and get double behind.

Ice is really cool, because it's an all-acetate set. It's tough to really convey that through scans, but just imagine all the white parts are clear.

There are varying levels of rookies, with varying serial numbers based on that tier. I got four in total: Brady Skjei 1311/1499, Brendan Gaunce 652/1499, Joel Vermin 1719/1999, Mike Condon Level 2 731/799

Zachary Fucale Global Impact
These cards have a simple concept, in that they focus on a players country of origin. With the country's flag superimposed (is that the right word?) over a world map, they are some very cool-looking cards.

Zachary Fucale WJC 23/1299
This guy again!  Not much to explain here These cards focus on players who have represented Canada in the World Junior Championship.

Nick Ritchie Fresh Threads Jersey
Now to the hits! Unlike the base cards and inserts, the Fresh Threads cards are not done in an acetate material, which would be tougher to do with a thicker card. 

Mikko Rantanen Exquisite Collection Auto 80/249
These are actually really nice-looking cards. Exquisite is kind of it's own seperate set, with cards eing inserted across various products. It's done with a thick card stock, and the clean white finish really gives it a high-end look.

Seth Jones Rinkside signings Auto
This is definitely the best card out of the box, not only because it's of a player I really like, but because it's just really cool. It's a thicker card, but the signature is done on an acetate surface shaped like an ice rink that is inserted into the card. I always love to find something like this that shows you something you can't really find anywhere else. 

That's it for the box. Ice is a popular product that made its return when Upper Deck added to their annual product line-up. It's also nice to see that they are trying to do something unique with what they put into it. There really are some amazing cards to be pulled from it.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

2015-16 Contours Box Break

Now that they have the exclusive NHL license, Upper Deck has had some room to introduce a few new products to the market, one of those being Contours. I'm not sure what the "theme" of this release is, other than every card is die-cut. They also have included some hits from famous fans, so I guess this is Upper Deck's answer to Panini's Crown Royale. Either way, I decided to pick myself up a box, and here's how I did.

Here's a quick look at the base set. It's the typical player image in front of a photoshopped background, and the "contouring" takes place right above the silver foil on top of the card.

Of course, there are parallels, as well.As an added bonus, they also die-cut the sides of these cards to give them that extra bonus beyond just different-colored foil.
Steve Yzerman 121/499, Andrew Ladd 116/499

Rookie Resume Connor Hellebuyck  286/399
The rookie Resume cards are an insert, of course, but I'm not sure if they really provide anything different than the base cards, apart from a serial number and a lack of die-cutting. 

Oscar Lindberg Rookie Resume Proof 40/50

Youth Movement Sean Couturier 307/399
The Youth Movement autograph cards, I think, focus on the younger players in the league. Although I hate the Flyers, you could do much worse than pulling Couturier.

Oscar Lindberg Rookies Auto 328/499
These are the rookie cards for the set. 30 cards feature just an autograph, and 30 feature an autograph and a jersey swatch. Not a bad hit at all, but like the Couturier above, it is a sticker auto.

High Profile Fans Larry King Jersey
This is what I think is kind of cool. They have included a few celebrities from outside of the hockey world who are huge fans as hits in the product. While I am not a huge Larry King fan, in particular, I do love that Upper Deck tried to do something different with this product. 

High Profile Fans CM Punk
The High Profice Fans cards are inserted at a rate of 1:41, so it's nice to grab two of them in my 4-pack box. As a massive fan of pro wrestling, that fact that I grabbed a card of one of the most prolific wrestlers of this era, is even nicer! Looking at King & Punk, though, I do wish Upper Deck included a short write-up on their fandom in the text on the back, instead of just their accomplishment in their particular lines of work. 

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Day With the Cup

I was overjoyed back in June when the Pittsburgh Penguins won their fourth Stanley Cup, but it keeps getting better. Matt Cullen, who is from Moorhead, MN, was a key part of the team throughout the regular season and playoffs, and brought the Cup back home to share with the community last weekend. My family and I live right here in Moorhead, so we had the wonderful opportunity to see the Cup. My wife and I dropped our girls' off at my parents' house, and were on our way.

I was expecting just to be able to look at it, and hopefully, take a picture with it, which would have been incredible just by itself. However, as we got closer, I noticed that Cullen himself was right there with it, taking pictures with every single fan right next to the Stanley Cup. After an hour and a half in line, there we were. 

It really was an impressive operation they had set up. In order to get as many people through as possible, they hired two professional photographers, and assembly-lined everyone through. Pictures were then uploaded almost immediately to a computer station, where they did the necessary cropping, and printed up a 3x5 for each person in the shot, as well as e-mailing a digital copy for social media use. 

After having some time to share the Stanley Cup with his family in the morning, Cullen took it to visit children involved with his "Cully's Kids" charity, which helps battle childhood cancer, then brought it to the Moorhead Youth Hockey Arena, where he shared it with local youth hockey players. After that, it came to a tent set up outside the arena, which is where my wife and I saw it.

It may have been Matt Cullen's "day with the Cup," but I was so grateful for the opportunity for my "moment with the Cup."

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Mike McCarron Artifacts Redemption

Well, close to 8 months after the set's original release date, Upper Deck is finally sending out their rookie redemptions for 2015-16 Artifacts. As the set was released early in October, rookies from this season hadn't made their debut when production began, so Upper Deck included redemption cards, so that they could produce cards of this year's rookies after they made their debut.

The redemption I got from a box I opened last fall was a "Wild Card" that ended up being of Montreal Canadiens right wing Mike McCarron, numbered 444/899. McCarron made it up to the NHL for 20 games this past season, scoring just one goal and one assist. Might not be the best rookie available, but at least I finally have the card in hand, after quite a long wait. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

2015-16 Fleer Showcase Box Break

I think I got this box almost two months ago, but really just never got around to posting it, despite scanning the cards and basically doing everything but typing it up. Anyway, 2015-16 Fleer Showcase is a product in its third year, and is Upper Deck's way of paying tribute to (or maybe just capitalizing on) past products of the Fleer brand, which Upper Deck owns.

The base cards are actually a unique design, as all of the Fleer "tributes" are inserts, and are very similar to what you would see from one of their SP lines, but with a colored background instead of white. 

Trios Hot Prospects 64/599: Alex Biega/Alexandre Grenier/Andrey Pedan
The trios cards are just a way to put in some of the season's late-comers, and as such, it's rare to find a whole lot of players with a whole lot of superstar potential, as they most likely made their debut earlier in the season, and are part of the main rookie line.

Then, there are the insert sets that pay tribute to past Fleer issues. In previous sets, they were able to to a more precise replication of these, but as they run out of former sets, they instead have to go with more of a "tribute" thing, which gives a more modern take on what those sets could have looked like. 
Flair Showcase: Tuukka Rask, Jordan Eberle

Flair Showcase Rookies: Jake Virtanen

Metal Universe: Noah Hanifin, Jake Virtanen, Radek Faksa

Skybox Premium Prospects: Mike Condon

Fleer Ultra Rookies: Jack Eichel 587/699

Then, there were the hits:

Jonathan Quick Showcase Jersey Red Glow Parallel 88/99
This is a jersey card, but witht he smooth fabric of silver, I almost thought it might be a one-colored patch. Nope, just a jersey swatch, but still a good card of a great player

Guy Lafleur Showcase Jersey Red Glow Parallel 14/25
Some of the jersey cards have an extra-low serial number for some reason, but I'm not sure why. There's only 25 of these, and the fact that it's a hockey legend makes it extra cool, as well. 

Hot Prospects Nikolay Goldobin 233/499
This is my guaranteed Rookie Auto Patch card, of San Jose Sharks forward Nikolay Goldobin. There are three colors on the patch, which is great, even if it's only a slight bit of teal in the upper right. He spent most of this past season with the AHL's San Jose Barracuda, but was with the NHL team for nine games, scoring one goal and one assist. 

I didn't strike gold with this one, but there were some respectable pulls, not only with the hits, but with a Jack Eichel rookie card. I know it's a bit of a gamble, as any box of cards can be, but with a guarantees Rookie Auto Patch, you'll always walk away with something pretty nice.