I'll admit that I was a bit confused when I saw this on Panini's schedule after the lockout ended. My thinking was, if there will be no 2012-13 rookies in this year's product, other than the ones left over from the 2011-12 season, what's the point of releasing a set called "Rookie Anthology." What I forgot, however, was what the spirit of this set is all about.
With the 2011-12 release, what they did was update the rookie cards from Certified, Crown Royale, Contenders, and a few other releases, with the rookies that entered midway through the season. What they did this year, though, was to put a twist on that theme, by inserting the hits from the Product lines that were cut due to the lockout, like Crown Royale, Titanium, and Elite.
Each box contains 10 packs of five cards, one of which is usually a hit or insert of some kind. Boxes are guaranteed four hits, one of which is autographed, plus one box-topper pack of three cards from the Prizm set. Some Prizm packs also contain an autographed card, so there's the potential for more than just the four promised hits.
My box gave me three Penguins, including two of the newest members of the team, Jarome Iginla and Brandon Sutter. I believe this marks the first cards of both of them wearing their new black and gold sweater.
The Penguins also made an appearance on two inserts, a Contenders Legacies card of Mario Lemieux numbered 362/999 and a Jordan Staal Elite Great Outdoors card numbered 141/500. The Lemieux card is basic, but I like that in a set focused on former players, and the cool thing about the Staal is that it's done on an acetate material, and all of the white background is actually clear.
There were also Trophy Contenders cards of Steven Stamkos (Hart 688/999), Loui Eriksson (Stanley Cup 431/999), and Niklas Backstrom (Vezina 719/999), as well as an Elite Rookie card of Carter Camper numbered 31/999. Not to be too critical, but I don't know if I'd exactly call any member of the Dallas Stars a "Cup Contender," at least for the time being.
My 3-card pack of Prizm actually gave me my first hit, which is good, because the other two base cards left a little to be desired, at least as far as my collection goes. The autographed refractor card is of Brandon Bollig from the Chicago Blackhawks. When I Googled Bollig to see how his season had gone, the first headline I saw was "Chicago Blackhawks insert Brandon Bollig for Game 1 of Stanley Cup Finals." Awesome! The next headline, however, read "Chicago Blackhawks: Don't blame Game 2 loss on Brandon Bollig." Uh oh.
This hit is a little frustrating, but maybe it doesn't need to be. I pulled a Titanium jersey card of Penguins goaltender Tomas Vokoun from Titanium. I say "frustrating," because I pulled a card of Jarome Iginla, who was acquired a couple months ago at the trade deadline, with his Penguins sweater, but this card of Vokoun, who signed way back in the off-season, has him pictured in his Washington Capitals gear. The only thing I can think of is that they would have released Titanium earlier in the year, they made the card as they would have made it back then, before a Penguins photo was available.
Also from Titanium, I pulled a Bronze Metallic Marks card of Montreal Canadiens' defenseman Raphael Diaz. During the lockout, Diaz played for his former Swiss hockey team EV Zug of the NLA. In 23 games with his NHL club in 2012-13, he scored one goal and 13 assists.
Like last year, Rookie Anthology brought us some more luxury suite cards. This year's offering features either cards with a piece of a player's stick or autographed cards with a player's jersey. This Belfour is going right into my Hockey HOF Project and will replace the Between the Pipes jersey card I have of his, because this one is much cooler.
One of my favorite card that I pulled from the box was this Royal Lineage card from Crown Royale. I guess the idea of this set is that it traces a team's history from past two present. Even though they decided to trace the lineage of this "Original Six" team all the way from the '90a to two players from today, I still love this card. I'm a big fan of Chelios and Toews, and despite him shunning Pittsburgh in 2008, I still like Hossa quite a lot. Plus, the fact that all three guys are top-notch players is pretty awesome. You don't always get that lucky with these.
The one actual "Rookie Anthology" hit was an autographed dual jersey card of Buffalo Sabres center Travis Turnbull, numbered 579/699. An undrafted free agent signing by the Sabres in 2009, Turnbull made his NHL debut during the 2011-12 season. Three games is all it took that season for Turnbull to earn his rookie card, with one goal scored and five penalty minutes. That's pretty much the extent of his NHL career, as he played the 2012-13 season with Düsseldorfer EG of the DEL (German Ice Hockey League), scoring 12 goals and 34 assists in 50 games.
Lastly, I got a super-cool Brandon Dubinsky Lords of the NHL prime jersey card, numbered 19/25. Unlike the Vokoun, this card actually depicts the player on his new 2012-13 team, which confuses me more as to why the one hit of a player from my team features him with his old team. Anyway, the card features a really nice two-colored seam swatch, which is probably a New York Rangers jersey, but it still works with the new team. Crown Royale always has some of the coolest looking inserts, and that's the case here, with one exception
If you focus in on the bottom left corner, it is severely dinged, which may have to do with the thickness of the card. It's a bit disappointing, because even though Dubinsky's not on one of my favorite players lists, but it's such a great looking card that I would have been happy to keep it in the collection, had it not come out of the pack damaged.
After some internal deliberation, I've decided to send it in for a replacement. I've had to do this a couple time with Panini before, and they're usually pretty good with this kind of thing. I'm ok with having to do this if I need to, and I'm happy that they are willing to stand by the quality of the products and are willing to make things right when the products don't live up to those standards. I'll keep you updated with what I get back in return.
Anyway, remember how each box is guaranteed four hits? Have you been keeping count? SEVEN!!! If you count the autograph from the Prizm bonus pack, I almost got twice as many hits as promised. Instead of one auto and three relics, I found two autos, four relics, and one auto/relic. Apparently, this is actually not out of the ordinary, as when Panini opened up two boxes to preview the release, one of those boxes contained seven hits, as well. The other one they opened, though, just contained the promised four, so they don't all have all the bonuses.
Still, it's worth a shot, and the hits from the unproduced sets are pretty cool, even if you only get the four.