It has been a tough couple months for hockey fans -- at least those who live and breath the NHL. Despite the ongoing labor dispute, it hasn't stopped Panini and Upper Deck from releasing new hockey cards. At least, not yet. That's great news for hockey card collectors. It also helps those looking for gifts for hockey fans.
Here are our picks for some of the best hockey cards to give this holiday season. The products we've highlighted are for hobby boxes, which, typically offer more autographs, memorabilia cards and other special insert cards that packs found at retail stores. Because there is such a broad mixes of collectors and budgets, we have also sorted our picks by price.
Hockey Card Boxes Under $85
Few names bring up the tradition of hockey card collecting than O-Pee-Chee. This release is aimed primarily at those who like to build sets. Chiming in at 600 cards, the set is also the largest of the year. Targeting an old-time feel, 2013-14 O-Pee-Chee Hockey cards are printed on old-fashioned cardboard card stock. Although autographs and memorabilia cards aren't guaranteed in boxes, there are a ton of other inserts to ensure a fun break and solid value.
2013-14 Panini Prizm Hockey fills a void on ice. It's currently the only set to have a chromium theme. The result is a shiny look that includes lots of colorful Prizm parallels. Busting a box leaves a nice stack of cards, lots of inserts and a pair of autographs. Gold Prizms numbered to 10 are among the set's most popular cards.
When it comes to rookie cards and mass appeal in hockey, nothing compares to Upper Deck Young Guns. Even without autographs or stated print runs, the cards move very well. 2013-14 Upper Deck Series 1 Hockey is popular with set builders. The loaded double-rookie crop makes it especially strong this year. Hobby boxes have six Young Guns and a pair of memorabilia cards.
Hockey Card Boxes Over $85
Select's hockey debut includes the first official autographed rookie cards of 2013 draft picks who have made their NHL debuts. Combine that with the rookie holdovers from last year and you've got a very strong checklist. 2013-14 Select Hockey also has lots of different Prizm parallels that give the product even more flash. Hobby boxes have four autographs.
A favorite among memorabilia card collectors, 2013-14 Upper Deck Artifacts Hockey hobby boxes have three game-used cards and an autograph. Game-used cards have pieces of jerseys, sticks and other equipment used during games. At least one card in every box has swatches from two or more players. Other highlights include base set short prints and rookie redemption cards.
Thanks to the labor dispute, 2012-13 wasn't the hottest year for hockey cards. One of the notable exceptions is 2012-13 Panini Prime Hockey, a high-end offering filled with big-time memorabilia pieces and unique cards. The addition of a pair of Dominion cards further up the ante.