When you talk about the future of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Jonathan Drouin's name is a key part to the equation. The third overall pick in the 2013 draft, he joins the team with high expectations to help lead Tampa's offense in the years to come.
With his debut on October 20, 2014 against the Edmonton Oilers, it means Upper Deck is free to start making Jonathan Drouin rookie cards in the NHL products. And while it was too late to squeeze him in to 2014-15 Upper Deck Series 1 Hockey, which came out just a couple weeks after his first game with the Lightning, the card maker has confirmed Jonathan Drouin rookie cards for 2014-15 Black Diamond. He'll also have a Young Guns rookie card in 2014-15 Upper Deck Series 2.
But that doesn't mean collectors don't have any Jonathan Drouin cards to track down already. He has plenty of great cards dating back to his junior days with the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL. In the Game started including Drouin in their 2012-13 products. This continued throughout 2013-14. Besides base cards, ITG did several autographed and game-used Jonathan Drouin cards as well.
Upper Deck's first Jonathan Drouin cards came with their 2014 Team Canada Juniors set. He's one of the marquee names in the release that has a variety of base and premium cards.
Here are highlights of some of the best Jonathan Drouin cards available before his first NHL rookie cards.
The first Jonathan Drouin base card is also one of the coolest. Part of the Class of 2013 short print subset that bookended 2012-13 ITG Heroes and Prospects, the card is done in 3-D. And this isn't the 3-D of old. Pictures can't do justice as to how cool these cards look in person. These have become relatively tough to find on the secondary market. Combine that with the "cool factor" of the technology and you can expect to pay a bit of a premium over what you might expect for a basic short print.
The first Jonathan Drouin autograph card uses the same photo as his Heroes and Prospects base card. It's not 3-D, but it still looks solid. The signature is on a sticker, but ITG are among the best at concealing it. It isn't noticeable unless you look closely. Drouin is a short print making the card tougher to find than a lot of others in the set.
Hailing from ITG's high-end release for 2012-13, this card comes encased in a sealed slab. The low serial numbering makes it tough to find but if you combine it with the jersey and patch versions, you shouldn't have too much trouble finding at least one of them. If there's one drawback to this card, it's that the autograph is on a sticker, which doesn't really discern it from the not as high-end Heroes & Prospects autograph.
Jonathan Drouin has not one but two autographs in 2013 ITG Draft Prospects, which came out to coincide with the 2013 NHL Draft. What makes these cards stand out is that the signatures are on-card. Both are short prints.
Jonathan Drouin and Nathan MacKinnon made for impressive teammates with the Halifax Mooseheads. This multi-swatch jersey card captures both of the stars. Although not serial numbered, it does have a confirmed print run of 90 copies. There's also a Gold parallel that's limited to ten copies.
2014 Upper Deck Team Canada Juniors is a treasure trove of early Jonathan Drouin cards. Among them are a pair of autographs that are essentially parallels from the base set. The signatures are on stickers, which might not be optimal, but the patriotic appeal for Canadians is tough to ignore.
It might not have an autograph or a swatch of memorabilia, but the acetate design brings the cool factor. Numbered to 75, it's also relatively hard to come by.
An upgrade over the basic autographs, this also has a swatch from a game-used Team Canada swatch. The piece isn't very big, but the cards are among the most popular in the set. With 125 numbered copies, it walks a balance between being rare and attainable.
This card features another of Drouin's great pre-NHL teammates, Connor McDavid, an early favorite for top pick in the 2014 NHL draft. The design compliments the red swatches nicely and the pairing is one of the best in the set.
For those who like memorabilia, the Jumbo Jersey card comes with a massive swatch that makes it more appealing than his basic jersey cards in the set. If you're up to a bigger chase, there's also a patch parallel that's numbered to just six copies.