Although he's been one of the offensive keys for the Buffalo Sabres for years, Thomas Vanek has largely escaped the hobby spotlight. But with a torrid start to the shortened 2012-13 NHL season, that's changing fast. Collectors are finally starting to catch on to the left winger's scoring touch and prices are on an upward trajectory. That said, Thomas Vanek rookie cards aren't soaring just yet. So now might be a good time to jump in.
Vanek kicked off 2012-13 by notching eight goals and 11 assists in his first eight games. It's still early, but the Austrian also has a history of putting the puck in the back of the net. He already has four 30-goal seasons, two of which he passed the 40-goal mark. Vanek's best season so far was 2006-07 where he had 43 goals, 84 points and a league leading plus-minus of +47.
Thomas Vanek rookie cards are found in 2005-06 products. He's the latest to emerge from a loaded rookie card class that is headlined by two of hockey's biggest names, Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin. As a result, the unopened wax that remains is, for the most part, on the pricey side. That said, singles are also widely available as so much of it has been ripped. With Vanek still somewhat of a dark horse alongside established superstars, this can mean bargains can still be found.
The combination of a proven record and the fact that his first cards are in some very popular sets should minimize the little risk that Thomas Vanek rookie cards currently carry.
Top 5 Thomas Vanek Rookie Cards
One of just three Thomas Vanek rookie cards to come with both an autograph and jersey swatch, 2005-06 SPx remains somewhat available because of its print run. The R-shaped window of the swatch takes up a lot of the card's real estate, somewhat overpowering the photo. For completists, the jersey swatch can be found in several different colors.
Upper Deck Young Guns -- not much else needs to be said. Readily available but highly coveted, these are the most collected rookie cards in hockey. This may not be the most valuable Thomas Vanek rookie, but prices are strong considering its driven largely by brand loyalty.
Another benefactor of a strong hobby following is the 2005-06 SP Authentic Thomas Vanek. Although it's numbered to 999, the card still commands strongest prices compared to other autographs from the winger. The fact that it's signed on-card is also a plus.
The big selling point of the 2005-06 Upper Deck Ice Thomas Vanek is the print run. Limited to just 99 copies, it's his rarest rookie card. It's also notable for its acetate card stock, which gives a unique look and feel when paired alongside other cards. Because it's so tough to find, prices are somewhat comparable to The Cup, despite not having an autograph.
2005-06 Upper Deck The Cup was a landmark release that continues to resonate today. While the Crosby and Ovechkin rookies continue to garner most of the attention, they're so expensive that most collectors can't even consider them. While not a cheap card by any means, the 2005-06 Upper Deck The Cup Thomas Vanek rookie card is still a bargain when compared to his pricey peers.
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