Other than Topps Baseball, few base sets are collected as religiously as Upper Deck Hockey. Every year, hockey card collectors rip packs, trade, track and buy the singles they need to complete their sets. Not surprisingly, rookie cards play a key part in Upper Deck Hockey's lasting popularity.
Although short-printed, Upper Deck's Young Guns rookie cards are still attainable for the average collector. As a result, set builders, rookie card collectors, player collectors and fans of specific teams all compete for the cards. In catering to all segments of the collecting community, the laws of supply and demand kick in and prices hold extremely well over time.
Despite coming from a mid-range product and not carrying any serial numbering, Upper Deck's Young Guns often sell for more than their numbered counterparts from other brands. It demonstrates the loyalty the cards have among collectors.
Of course, there are several autographed and memorabilia rookie cards that trump the Young Guns as far as value, but such Cadillac sets as The Cup and Panini Dominion aren't an option for a lot of collectors. Young Guns rookies are and that's why they're so important to the hobby.
View the hottest eBay Young Guns auctions. Below that is a list of the top Upper Deck Hockey Young Guns through 2012-13.
Like his Penguins teammate, Crosby, Evgeni Malkin is one of the NHL's greatest scorers. Also like Crosby, injuries have been a regular part of his career. That hasn't stopped collectors from consistently paying more than $60 for his first Upper Deck hockey card.
Should Alexander Ovechkin finally get the Washington Capitals a Stanley Cup, expect to see the Russian's rookie to soar higher than the $60 it currently brings in. The flashy sniper is one of the game's biggest and most polarizing superstars.
Hardly a Young Gun anymore, Pavel Datsyuk continues to excel for the Detroit Red Wings, the team that drafted him in 1998. One of the top Russian-born players, Datsyuk's rookie sells in the $45-65 range.
Part of Chicago's core that brought them a Stanley Cup in 2010 and 2013, Jonathan Toews is continuing to develop. Although a leader in a big market team, he'll likely have to increase his offensive production for this card to go higher than the $50 it's currently moving at.
As the first overall pick by the Edmonton Oilers in the 2011 NHL Draft, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is among the young stars of the NHL. The high ceiling for Nugent-Hopkins makes the current $40-45 range for his rookie seem quite reasonable.
No matter what happens in Tyler Seguin's career, he will forever be remembered as a key part of Boston's 2011 Stanley Cup victory. Entering just his second year, expectations are high on Seguin that he'll keep the Bruins in contention for years to come. As a result, his 2010-11 Upper Deck rookie card is moving in the $40-45 range.
With the Oilers' youth movement starting to click, collectors can look for big things to come out of the City of Champions very shortly. Taylor Hall is at the forefront of Edmonton's young core, displaying flashy moves and a knack for scoring. His Young Guns rookie is currently selling for $35.
The only goaltender on the list, Marc-Andre Fleury remains a top hobby option after a strong 2012-13 season for the Pittsburgh Penguins. If the Penguins can snag another title, it will likely be due to huge play from Fleury. While his rookie card sells for approximately $35, expect a considerable bump if that happens.
The first overall pick in the 2009 draft, John Tavares looks to be taking his game to another level this season. Although he plays for an Islanders franchise that is largely ignored, lots of Canadian collectors still have fond memories of him with the national team. Tavares' Young Guns rookie card currently sells for about $35.
Just missing the list, Carey Price has a huge hobby following. Should Montreal make a major push toward bringing the Stanley Cup back to Canada, the $25-30 this card is currently selling for will be a bargain.
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| E-Mail Author Ryan is a former member of The Cardboard Connection Writing Staff.
His collecting origins began with winter bike rides to the corner store, tossing a couple of quarters onto the counter and peddling home with a couple packs of O-Pee-Chee hockey in his pocket. Today, he continues to build sets, go after inserts with cool technologies, chase Montreal Expos and finish off his John Jaha master collection.
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