Admittedly, my card-buying has been rare as of late. Upper Deck is now the only hockey card on the market, so I haven't been flooded with Panini releases, and they seem to save their biggest products for the second half of the season, so there hasn't been a whole lot that I have gotten excited about.
One product that I was looking forward to, however, was SP Game Used. This year, Upper Deck completely re-tooled the brand, taking it from a regular base set brand with a few hits, to a hits-only product. Every single card is either a memorabilia card, an autographed card, or a "base" card that is serial numbered to a player's jersey number.
Each box contains one pack of five cards, with one of those five guaranteed to be autographed. Here's what my box got me.
Mark Visentin Rookies 2-Color Jersey 53/499
Visentin was the first round draft pick (27th overall) of the Phoenix Coyotes in 2010. The team appears to be giving him time to develop, as he has only made it up to the NHL for one game, which came during the 2013-14 season. He had been playing for the Portland Pirates of the AHL, but is now out for the season following ankle surgery.
Darnell Nurse Rookies jersey 288/499
Nurse is one of the big rookies in this year's product, having been selected seventh overall in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. He also has an athletic pedigree, being the son of former CFL wide receiver Richard Nurse and a nephew of former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb. He played in 2 NHL games with the Edmonton Oilers at the beginning of the 2014-15 season, but was sent back to the OHL's Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds for another year of conditioning.
Duncan Keith Stadium Series Jersey
The cool thing with these Stadium Series cards is that the swatches were cut from the actual jerseys worn during the Stadium Series games. This one comes from Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith, who played against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a Stadium Series game held at Chicago's Soldier Field. Keith went scoreless in the 5-1 Blackhawks win, but did get 4 PIMs.
Pekka Rinne Patch 20/50
Rinne may have been a late draft pick in 2004 (258th overall), but over the past decade, he has developed into one of the game's top goaltenders, being named a finalist for the Vaezina Trophy, awarded to the NHL's top goaltender, in 2011 and 2012. Rinne is having his best season yet in 2014-15, compiling a staggering record of 29-6-2, with a 1.96 goals against average and a .930 save percentage.
Aaron Ekblad Draft Day Marks autographed patch 1/35
So, far, this is only my second hobby box purchase of 2014-15, and already I pull an autograph of the year's top draft pick! The Florida Panthers picked him first overall this year, and already, Ekblad is making a name for himself. In 44 games, he has totaled 6 goals and 19 assists, for 25 points, putting him tied for fourth in scoring among rookies.
This product is definitely a risk, I will say. I did pretty well on my box, but I've also seen plenty of boxes with four plain jersey swatches and an autograph of some lower-level rookie. Still, with all the risk, there are plenty of great cards to be had, and I was lucky enough to pull one of them.