The high-end release hit the market Friday, and each box is loaded with lots of great cards. Collectors are promised "8 NHL Trading Cards" on the front of the box, which should at the very least include the following: 1 rookie autographed patch card, 1 autographed memorabilia card, 1 booklet card, 1 printing plate, plus whatever else comes with it.
Due to Upper Deck's upcoming exclusive on the hockey market, Panini will no longer be producing NHL-licensed hockey cards, but boy, did they go out in a blaze of glory!
Here is the video of my box, with scans to follow:
Staring off from the least to the best, here's a card-by-card look at what I pulled from my box:
Patrick Marleau Base Card 50/199
Look, there really isn't a "bad" card out of this box, but we had to start off somewhere. Panini does with National Treasures what I really like about a high-end set. Keep it basic, and clean, and the card just looks better. It doesn't need a bunch of bells and whistles, the design really stands on it's own.
Reilly Smith Colossal Jersey 1/50
It is your basic run-of-the-mill jersey card, but there is a little extra size to it, plus the low serial number. Of course, this, like many other jersey cards like it, contains a few parallels, which will give collectors more than just a plain white swatch, like the one found on this card.
Austin Watson Dual Mem Autographed Dual Jersey
Based on the various box breaks I've seen on-line, the Dual Mem insert often serves as the guaranteed "autographed memorabilia card." It serves its purpose well, with a sticker autograph and two small swatches. It is also un-numbered, allowing Panini to use as many as they need to fill the boxes.
Chet Pickard/Calvin Pickard Duals Autograph 81/100
While I'm not a particular fan of either player, I really do like this card. Multi-autogaphed cards are always great, but what makes a card extra special is when they are able to link the players in a way beyond just the typical team or position connection. In this case, Chet and Calvin play the same position, but beyond that, they are also brothers. Maybe it's just me, but I always like the "family connection" type of cards even when the family's last name isn't "Howe" or "Hull."
Cameron Gaunce 2011-12 Prime Yellow Printing Plate 1/1
The printing plate touch is something a little extra, but really cool, as each box of National Treasures is guaranteed to contain at least one 1/1 card. Panini is able to do it at this rate, because they are going back through their past releases for the plates, not just using National Treasures plates.
Erik Gudbranson 2011-12 Prime Cyan Printing Plate 1/1
While boxes are guaranteed to contain one printing plate, mine came with two. This one is of Erik Gudbranson, who followed me all over the place during the 2011-12 collecting season. Each year, individual collectors seem to have one player that they seem to pull out of boxes at an astounding rate. This year that seems to be Seth Jones, but two years ago, it was Erik Gudbranson. Well, two years later, the 2010 third overall draft pick still is finding a way into my boxes.
Stan Mikita Timeline Jersey 69/99
This set features a jersey swatch from the player behind a die-cut lettering of the player's last name. Not only does it look really cool, but the card also focuses on one significant game in a player's career. For Mikita, that game was on February 27, 1977 against the Vancouver Canucks. On this night, Mikita scored his 500th career NHL goal on a backhander with just 6:04 left in the third period.
Brendan Gallagher Rookie Riches Autograph 18/99
Unlike a few other autographs from NT, this one is hard-signed. For some, an autograph is an autograph, while others need the hard-signed card, just for the idea that they player himself actually touched the card to sign it. For me personally, I'll take a sticker if I have to, but man, it makes a huge difference. I'm not as concerned with a player having touched the card, but it just looks so much cleaner. Besides, this way if a player "colors outside the lines," it goes onto a different part of the card surface, instead of being "cut off" when a sticker is removed from its original surface to be affixed to the card. (Note: I already traded this card, just hours after posting the box results to Facebook)
Jonas Brodin Rookie Treasures Rainbow Parallel Autographed Patch 24/25
Here is my guaranteed Autographed Rookie Patch card, and it sure was a good one. While the Penguins are my team, I live in Minnesota, so I am somewhat of a Wild collector. Not only that, but with all the rookies out there, this one is still a pretty good pull. This card is done, on the front and back, with an acetate surface, that is printed throughout, which is something I've never seen before. It gives the surface more of a sheen to it, without having to add some kind of chrome effect, which makes the card look a lot cleaner. The signature is done on the card's surface, which it needs to be for a product like this, and there is a significant amount of space devoted to the patch. My beef with it though is with the fact that it is a single-colored patch. For a product that is this high-end, and for the amount of money that collectors have to pay for a box, there should be extra care given to make sure you have the best memorabilia pieces possible. Especially if that card is from a jersey-number parallel (base versions are numbered /99). I know they can't all be logo patches with 10 different colors, but even a two colored patch with one seams down the middle would be something. I like the card, though, and my plan is to sell this one and buy another /25 Brodin with a better patch. I already found one on Ebay, so I just have to hope there isn't too much of a gap in the final selling prices.
Evgeni Malkin Jumbo Booklet Prime Jersey 8/25
Now this is a pretty sick-looking card. Sure, they could have done a little bit more with the blank space next to the player photo (parallels have this space autographed), but it is still a great pull for me, being a Penguins fan. There was a minimal use of foil, which I like, and I love how they use as much space as possible for the jersey piece. If it were just the regular jersey version of this card, it might look like too much space for just a solid piece of fabric, but with the prime swatch, it's a totally different story. I also have a close-up scan of the jersey part of the booklet, but it really doesn't do justice to juts how great that piece looks in person. With the larders size, the detail of the seam can better be seen, and it makes for one fantastic pull for me.
Henrik Lunqvist Frozen Treasures Prime Jersey Autograph 1/15
I was a little conflicted on whether to consider the Malkin the best pull from the box, or this one. What it came down to is that putting my allegiance to my favorite team, this is simply just a better card. Of course there's the ridiculously low serial-number to begin with. What makes this card cool, is how they are able to do so much with it, which still keeping the clean, un-cluttered look of the high-end set. There is the prime jersey swatch, which still has a significant size to it. Then what they do, is put a clear window on the top of it and have the player sign that in a white marker, which allows the signature to be placed over the memorabilia piece. I have seen some cards in other releases where the player signs the patch or jersey piece, and the issue there is that sometimes the texture can distort the signature, and over time, the ink can bleed throughout the fabric. By placing the signature over the jersey piece, you are able to give the same effect, while retaining the signature for a longer period of time. Simply put, this is just a beautiful card.
This, admittedly, is a tough box to break, simply because of the astronomical price point. I know that the price is close to that of Upper Deck's The Cup, but unless there are a bunch of throw-ins this year, Panini gets the award for giving MUCH more bang for your buck. I was promised 8 cards, but actually pulled 11, and I always appreciate the extras. Also, I pulled three cards which could easily be considered the best card out of any box they were pulled from. Yes, I spent a lot on this product, but I think Panini definitely gave me my money's worth.