Lockout or no lockout, 2012-13 Upper Deck Series 1 Hockey is still bringing the Young Guns rookie cards.
Every year, Upper Deck's Young Guns rookie cards are among the most collected cards in the hobby. When you take into account that they don't come with any premium additions like autographs, serial numbers or memorabilia swatches, none do better on the secondary market. In fact, the prices Young Guns capture often outpace other rookies that come numbered or with added bells.
That's the power of the Young Guns brand. Every year, throngs of collectors set out to build their set, track down players from their favorite team or do some prospecting.
2012-13 Upper Deck Series 1 Hockey has 49 different Young Guns, plus a multi-player checklist. Because of the labor situation in the NHL, all of these players made their debuts last season, either late in the year or in the playoffs. That makes predicting who's going to do well in the NHL a little tougher, at least at this point.
Cardboard Connection Radio's Russ Cohen, who is also Sportsology's resident hockey expert, listed his picks for the ten best 2012-13 Upper Deck Series 1 Young Guns rookie cards on the November 2 edition of Cardboard Connection Radio. Some are already hot in the hobby. Others may take a couple of years to catch on. However, all have some major upside for collectors and hockey fans.
Top 10 2012-13 Upper Deck Series 1 Hockey Young Guns Rookie Cards
If there's a sure thing among this year's rookie crop, it's Chris Kreider. The 19th pick in the 2009 draft, Kreider debuted with the Rangers during the playoffs. He had a strong showing, notching five goals and two assists in 18 postseason games. Krieder's got a rare mix of size and speed. From a collector's perspective, Kreider is a key piece of the big-market Rangers. The fact that he's American will also help build his fanbase.
It didn't take long for Jaden Schwartz, the 14th pick in the 2010 draft, to make an impact in the NHL. He scored the game-winning goal in his debut on St. Patrick's Day. When NHL games resume, it's expected that Schwartz will stick with the Blues and be a major part of their team going forward. Schwartz was the captain of the bronze medal-winning Canadian team at the 2012 World Junior Championships.
Jakob Silfverberg was named his country's top hockey player in 2011-12 after leading the Swedish Elite League with 24 goals and 54 points in just 49 games. A second round pick by the Senators in 2009, Silfverberg brings youth and size to Canada's capital. This should translate into some always welcome offense. As far as hobby prospects go, goals and points often go hand-in-hand with winning.
Jason Zucker was a member of the American team that won gold at the 2010 World Junior Championships. He was also on the squad that took home bronze the following year. Now Zucker is part of a revamped Minnesota Wild lineup. In six games with the team in 2011-12, Zucker collected a pair of assists.
With Jarome Iginla's career likely winding down, it's time for someone new to take the offensive reigns in Calgary. Sven Baertschi might be the guy. The Swiss-born winger led the Western Hockey League in postseason scoring last year, helping the Portland Winterhawks reach the league's finals. Baertschi, the 13th pick in the 2011 draft, appeared briefly with the Flames as well. In five game, he scored three goals.
Riley Sheahan is aiming to be one of the NHL's big men. It may take some time for the former Notre Dame player to find his place in the league, but his great speed and vision should get him there, eventually. Playing for the Red Wings, one of hockey's most popular teams, should also help his standing among collectors.
In 13 playoff games with Coyotes in 2011-13, Michael Stone collected a goal and an assist. His large size will certainly help the defenseman. Stone is more than competent at both ends of the ice. Overall, expect solid production from him in the future, but Stone probably won't be an elite scorer.
Reilly Smith is probably still a year away from being ready to stick with the Stars. Last year, the winger had an outstanding season with Miami University. In 39 games, he score 30 goals and totaled 48 points. His plus-minus was also an impressive plus-26. In three games with Dallas, Smith did not register any points.
Casey Cizikas spent significant time with the Islanders in 2011-12, appearing in 15 games. He didn't score any goals but did tally four assists. Cizikas was a fourth round pick by the Islanders in the 2009 NHL Draft. The center was a part of Canada's silver medal squad at the 2011 World Junior Championships.
Don't expect Brandon Manning to win any scoring titles. He will be a solid defender, though. That's not to say that Manning won't get any points, but likely not enough to make him a hobby superstar outside of the Flyers faithful. Manning was signed by Philadelphia as a free agent in 2011.