Good: Rated Rookies, Great box value, Perfect price point, Acetate cards, Die-cut cards, Deep checklist, Surprisingly well done relics, At least two hits per box, Rookie Showcase Threads
Bad: Some cards feel sloppy and rushed, Sticker drop autographs, non-die cut base card parallels aren't attractive, base card design is plain
Using design aspects from the decade of sports card excess can be a risky proposition, but in this case Donruss pulls it off extremely well. The product's 90's inspired acetate and die-cut cards make for extremely cool pulls. The memorabilia cards were also surprisingly well done for a product that carries a box price of less than $70, especially the Rookie Showcase Threads. The base card design is only slightly above average, with the set photography feeling decades behind this year's Upper Deck Series One Hockey.
The only real complaint I had with Donruss' card design is that it felt sloppy and rushed at times, a prime example being the empty sticker-drop landing strips present on a handful of the non-autographed Rated Rookies, this was presumably done so that they wouldn't have to make two separate cards (1 Auto, 1 Non-Auto).
The checklist layout is nearly identical to Upper Deck Series One. Like Series One, the base set delivers 50 rookies, including big names like Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Jeff Skinner, P.K. Subban, Tyler Seguin and Nazem Kadri. The only hobby heavy hitter absent from the Rated Rookie checklist is Sergei Bobrovsky.
Overall, the checklist is extremely well crafted, featuring a great mix of rookies, collectible inserts, relics and autos. After the base set, Donruss is a much deeper product than 2010-11 Upper Deck Series One Hockey.
You simply can't go wrong paying $60-$70 for six Rated Rookies, at least two hits and a small stack of intriguing inserts and parallels. When the product was first announced, I thought Donruss would struggle to establish value beyond the Rated Rookies, I was wrong. Panini packed a suprising amount of additional high quality cards into Donruss. I wouldn't expect the Rated Rookie to top an Upper Deck Young Gun in terms of value, but outside of that Donruss is a much deeper product than Upper Deck Series One.
Fun Factor: 4.5/5
It's always exciting to open a highly anticipated product like Donruss Hockey, it's a whole 'nother thing to have a product live up to the hype and then some. 2010-11 Donruss Hockey is a low stress proposition that shows signs of life well beyond the set's Rated Rookies. The box price is perfect, the rookies are plentiful and the hits are suprisingly infectious.
The Bottom Line: 4.3/5
Donruss' return to hockey is a triumphant success that offers collectors a substantial amount of cold as ice cards per $60-$70 hobby box. The product is highlighted by the "Rated Rookie", Panini's answer to Upper Deck's powerhouse Young Guns series. The most impressive part of Donruss Hockey is that there are signs of life well beyond the Rated Rookie, which include some extremely cool inserts, relics and autographs. If you enjoy hockey cards, I can't think of a single reason you won't enjoy Donruss Hockey.