Saturday, July 27, 2019

Pavel Buchnevich Jersey Card

The New York Rangers dealt with one of their more pressing issues by signing RFA Pavel Buchnevich to a two-year, $6.5M deal worth $3.25M per season on the salary cap, which amounts to more than triple his salary from the previous three seasons.

While his points-per-game average has improved in each of his first three seasons (from 0.49 to 0.58 to 0.59), his possession and shot differential stats have fallen quite a bit (50.1 CF to 48.6 to 47.4), showing that previous head coach Alain Vigneault had sheltered him at first and that perhaps current Blueshirts bench boss David Quinn can live with a few defensive lapses on his part if he can also produce at the other end of the rink.

While it's been a surprisingly reasonable summer for RFA contracts, the Rangers still currently sit at $4M above the cap with only 20 of 23 players currently on the roster after the signings of Buchnevich, Jacob Trouba and Artemi Panarin.

Common wisdom is they'll be shopping around forwards like Chris Kreider or perhaps even Buchnevich himself, but the smarter deal would be to find a way to rid themselves of an overpaid defenseman with some sort of no-movement/no-trade clause (like, say Kevin Shattenkirk or Brendan Smith) ahead of the Seattle expansion draft, or else they won't be able to protect the right players.

At age 24, we should get to see Buchnevich evolve into a flashy, consistent top-six forward who produces some 50 points per year for the two years of his bridge deal, then in the 60-70-point range on his next contract.

In the meantime, here's a jersey card from #89, card #RS-PB from Upper Deck's 2016-17 SP Game-Used Edition set and Rookie Sweaters sub-set:
It shows him wearing the Rangers' classic blue (now-home) uniform with a matching jersey swatch from a rookie photo shoot, and is numbered #499/499. I got it in a trade a couple of years ago.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Sam Bennett: Four Autographed Cards

Done deal: Sam Bennett has signed a two-year bridge deal with the Calgary Flames that comes with a $2.55M cap hit - enough to show him the respect of his first-round pedigree, and enough of a message that he has yet to develop into the consistent producer the team would prefer him to be.

After all, he just played his age 22 season - his fourth full-time NHL season - and had his second-highest points-per-game average at 0.38; it was during his rookie season that he posted his best statistics, however, with his highest goals (18), assists (18) and points (36) totals in 77 games, for a points-per-game rate of 0.47.

Both the team and player were happy to avoid an arbitration hearing, as both sides know what the other expects of them, and both are still willing to put forth the effort to get there. Neither side needed to hear the other's gripes.

It's not all dire, however, as he's found a comfortable niche playing alongside Mikael Backlund and Mark Jankowski as an efficient checking line, but the fact that Backlund has remained a 20-goal, 45-55-point player means his wingers should be able to come close to those numbers as well.

The Flames seem to be in a cap crunch, however, and a mid-level salary may have to leave town before the season starts, and the usual suspects are top-six forward Michael Frolik and top-four defenseman T.J. Brodie. Both disappointed in Calgary's five-game elimination to the Colorado Avalanche a couple of months ago, but Brodie was a 24/25-minute defender from 2013-16 and a 23-minute man from 2016-18 and fell to 21:28 last year, which was still the second-highest on a deep dfensive team, but there is reason to believe he either no longer has his coaches' confidence, or may be past his peak (a conclusion I'm not yet ready to get to in his case, considering he just played in his age 28 season).

All that is to say that Bennett may be given a look on the second line a few times next season, and his statistics may improve just from getting ice time with the likes of Matthew Tkachuk, Elias Lindholm, Johnny Gaudreau or Sean Monahan.

I got him to sign four cards for me in black sharpie when he was in town with the Flames last October. Let's take a closer look at them, starting with the two where he's sporting the team's red (home) uniform:
On the left is card #7 from Upper Deck's 2015-16 National Card Day (Canadian Edition) set and Canada's Rookies sub-set, while the one on the right is from UD's 2016-17 Series 1 collection (and is #31 in the set).

There are also two where he's sporting the white (away) uniform, as seen below:
On the left is card #34 from Upper Deck's 2016-17 Artifacts set, while the one on the right is #132 from UD's 2017-18 MVP collection.

He tagged all of them with his current jersey number (93), which makes him an easy addition to my Flames Numbers Project.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

My Team Canada Numbers Project

Well, I have Numbers Projects for so many teams now (my Habs Numbers Project, my Oilers Numbers Project my Sens Numbers Project, my Canucks Numbers Project, my Nordiques Numbers Project, my Flames Numbers Project and my Expos Numbers Project), I figured why not make one for Team Canada as well?

It'll be easier in some regards with all the national teams at all the levels (including but not limited to the World Juniors, the World Championships, the Spengler Cup, the Canada/World Cup, the Summit Series, and the Mens and Womens Olympic teams), but I'm again at a loss for #99 (Wayne Gretzky) and likely will be for my entire life.

The plan is to stick to hockey, but who knows, maybe I'll get to add some from other sports as well; it might be my only shot at a #99.
So far, I have featured 31 players representing a total of 24 jersey numbers.

Here they are:

1: Braden Holtby: check!
3: Eric Brewer: check!
4: Thomas Hickey and Chris Phillips: check!
5: Bryan Allen and Samuel Morin: check!
10: Brayden Schenn and Charles Hudon (also wore #16): check!
11: Zachary Boychuk: check!
12: Julien Gauthier: check!
13: Caroline Ouellette: check (and check again)!
14: Thomas Hickey (also wore #4): check!
16: Kerby Rychel, Jayne Hefford and Charles Hudon (also wore #10): check!
17: Marcus Foligno: jersey card check!
19: Alexandre Daigle: check!
20: Guillaume Latendresse, Jason Ward and Louis Leblanc: check!
22: Frédérik Gauthier: check!
23: Jason Botterill, Rob Niedermayer and Daniel Audette: check!
24: Patrice Brisebois and Logan Couture: check!
28: Nathan Beaulieu: check!
29: Marie-Philip Poulin: check!
30: Dustin Tokarski: jersey card check!
31: Geneviève Lacasse and Olivier Roy: check!
32: Charline Labonté: check!
37: Patrice Bergeron: jersey card check!
51: Ryan Getzlaf: jersey card check!
97: Joe Thornton: jersey card check!

Captains: Poulin, Hickey

Saturday, July 20, 2019

James Neal Swatch Card

It's now official: the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers have swapped problematic contracts, with James Neal going to the Oilers and Milan Lucic headed to Calgary. Both power forwards on the decline have close to $6M left per year until the end of the 2022-23 season, although Lucic's contract is considered buyout-proof, what with being essentially a minimum-salary deal with signing bonuses while Neal's is a straight $5.75M per year in salary.

This is Neal's fourth team in four seasons, and while the optics on that aren't great, especially considering his reputation as a bad teammate (he may have told goalie Mike Smith to "stop the fucking puck once in a while" last season), one has to keep in mind the actual facts in his case: two of those teams - the perennial division-winning Nashville Predators and first-year expansion team Vegas Golden Knights - both reached the Stanley Cup Final with him in tow. The Flames, for their part, won their division with him last year with a six-point cushion over the San Jose Sharks.

Also, last year was the first time in his 11-year NHL career that he failed to reach the 20-goal mark - and that includes the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season.

Here's what you get when you acquire Neal: a 6'3", 215-pound guy who can skate, has a very good shot (not "great", not "elite", but just below that, still in the 85-89th percentile) and a terrible temper. Enough that most players won't try to get on his nerves to draw a penalty, because he's mean enough to go so hard that he'll earn a suspension. Some call him the dirtiest player in the NHL, although I wouldn't go so far because the league still employs the likes of Brad Marchand, Corey Perry, Radko Gudas, Ryan Kesler (technically), Lucic and Nazem Kadri, but he's definitely Philadelphia Flyers/Boston Bruins/Anaheim Ducks material...

In the off-season, Neal usually trains with... Connor McDavid. The thing with Edmonton is they technically have three top-line centers in McDavid (the best player in the world), Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. All three possess all-world skill and speed, although Nuge is less bulky and, thus, more fragile. Still, any one of those guys can put up point-per-game statistics with a 25-goal scorer by their side, a number Neal's reached five times in his career (with a high of 40 in 2011-12), including in 2017-18 on the Golden Knight's second line.

Here he is from his 40-goal days, sporting the Pittsburgh Penguins' white (away) uniform on card #GG-JN from Panini's 2012-13 Titanium set and Game-Worn Gear sub-set:
It features a black game-worn jersey swatch that I assume must be from his days in Pittsburgh but could also have come from his time with the Dallas Stars.

He also has international experience, having won a gold medal at the 2007 World Juniors and silver at the 2009 World Championships with Team Canada.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Jacob Trouba Autographed Card

After acquiring Jacob Trouba in a trade with the Winnipeg Jets in mid-June, the New York Rangers have now signed the restricted free agent to a fair $56M seven-year deal worth $8M against the salary cap, avoiding arbitration.

They now have a legitimate top-tier defenseman who, at age 25, is set to enter his prime - unlike their prized 2017 free agent Kevin Shattenkirk, who has seemingly and prematurely just stepped out of his, although in fairness, Shattenkirk should never have been considered any higher than a #3 defenseman.

This leads me to the right side of the Rangers' defense, which now consists of the following players and cap hits:
Trouba, $8M
Shattenkirk: $6.5M (10-team no-trade list)
Brendan Smith: $4.35M (15-team no-trade list)
Adam Fox: a maximum of $1.75M if all bonuses are reached.
That's to go with the left side, made up of:
Brady Skeij: $5.25M
Marc Staal: $5.7M (full no-move clause)
Libor Hajek: $833K
Keep in mind the salary cap is $80.5M, a team needs 12 forwards in uniform (and this one has $11.64M man Artemi Panarin), one or two more as reserves and a pair of goalies. Oh, and the Rangers have one of the best of the millennium in Henrik Lundqvist, a luxury which comes with a $8.5M hit.

The Blueshirts have four remaining unsigned restricted free agents (forwards Pavel Buchnevich, Brendan Lemieux and Vinni Lettieri, and defenseman Anthony DeAngelo), none of whom are likely to break the bank this year, but the Rags already being over the cap by a couple of million only complicates things.

The most obvious solutions include trading one of the defensemen (with or without retaining salary to sweeten the deal), or trading pending UFA forwards Vladislav Namestnikov and/or Chris Kreider, who are both on affordable and good-value deals at $4M and $4.5M respectively, but in the straight "dollars-and-cents" perspective coupled with trade value, may be easiest to move.

It's a puzzle, that's for sure, but that's when GM Jeff Gorton will have to prove he's got what it takes to justify making the big bucks. He's definitely got the foundations of a Stanley Cup contender on his hands, maybe not to take a run at it this year, but they should have a decent window in two or three years.

Here is a card Trouba signed for me in February:
It's #394 from Upper Deck's 2018-19 O-Pee-Chee collection, showing him wearing the Jets' white (away) uniform.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

My Nordiques Numbers Project: An Introduction

You're probably used to it by now, what with my Habs Numbers Project, my Oilers Numbers Project, my Sens Numbers Project, and my Canucks Numbers Project, but I decided long ago that I would also have one for my favourite team growing up, the Québec Nordiques.

As a reminder, the goal is to have an autographed card of a player representing each jersey number worn/used by the franchise. If I can't find an autographed card, autographed pictures, postcards or jersey cards can count.
Originally founded as a WHA team in in 1972, they joined the NHL with the New England/Hartford Whalers, the Oilers and the Winnipeg Jets when the WHA folded with the agreement that four teams would merge with the NHL, pending a transfer fee and the loss of their superstars whose rights belonged to existing NHL teams.

Because the franchised relocated to Denver to become the Colorado Avalanche in 1995, it's a tad harder to complete this set than my previous ones, because it gives me a limited number of years to access and fewer players having the chance to wear certain jersey numbers.

I'm starting this project with the mindset of limiting myself to the 1972-1995 time period, ignoring the Avs part of the team's history - and also skipping over former teams based in the same city, such as the Stanley Cup-winning Québec Bulldogs.

Here's the list of those I have featured here thus far:

1. Ron Tugnutt and Richard Sévigny: check!
2. Sylvain Lefebvre: check!
4. Paul Baxter: check!
5. Réjean Houle and Brent Severyn: check!
7: Robbie Ftorek: check!
9: Réal Cloutier: check!
10. Guy Lafleur: check!
12. Chris Simon: check!
16. Michel Goulet once: (and twice) check!
18: Mike Hough: check!
19. Michel Dion (also wore 30): check!
21: Randy Moller: check!
22. Ron Sutter: check!
30. Michel Dion (also wore 19): check!
31. Stéphane Fiset: check!
32. Dale Hunter: check!
33. Mario Gosselin: check!
36: Adam Deadmarsh: check!
40: Tony Hrkac: check!
44: Mario Marois: check!
48. Scott Young: check!
49: Kip Miller: check!
51: Andrei Kovalenko: check!
55: René Corbet: check!

That's 24 numbers. Some numbers will be harder than others (Peter Stastny's 26 and Joe Sakic's/Owen Nolan's 88), but I'm actually fairly confident with this one. This and the Habs one, fittingly, should near completion before I get bored with having these projects!

Saturday, July 13, 2019

My Expos Numbers Project: An Introduction

Why limit a good and fun concept to just hockey when I have enough signed baseball cards to seriously consider adding a Montréal Expos Numbers Project to all my hockey ones (my Habs Numbers Project, my Oilers Numbers Project, my Sens Numbers Project, my Canucks Numbers Project, and my Nordiques Numbers Project).

It'll be harder to finalize because baseball has more players in uniform (factoring in spring training and the 40-man roster after the trade deadline), but I start with the advantage that the team no longer exists, and no new number will be worn.

The first Canadian (and first non-U.S.) team to join Major League Baseball (in 1969), the team had its two best seasons when strikes disrupted play: the 1981 division win, and the magical 1994 season where they were leading the majors with a month left of play when the playoffs were cancelled as players walked out, which rang the beginning of the end for the team, who started its first official fire sale.

There'd been prior instances of the team trading highly-paid veterans for youth when they were being priced out of the team's budget (Gary Carter), but post-1994, it actually became official team policy to always trade players when they hit their prime and were about to earn serious dough. From the first wave (Delino DeShields, Marquis Grissom, Larry Walker, John Wetteland) to the second (Pedro Martinez, Jose Vidro, Vladimir Guerrero) to seasons where it was a single player to when the Evil Twins came from New York with empty promises and ran the team to the ground so they could profit from its sale and trade up, to the Florida Marlins.
So, here I am attempting to collect autographed/memorabilia stuff from players representing every number worn by a member of the Expos. So far, I have featured 35; here they are:

Managers: Bill Virdon and Buck Rodgers.

3: Jose Vidro and Junior Noboa: check!
4: Mark Grudzielanek: check!
6: Ryan McGuire: check!
11: John Tamargo: check!
12: Wilfredo Cordero: check!
13: Jeff Fassero: check!
15: Curtis Pride (also wore #16) and Jeff Huson: check!
16: Tom Foley: check!
19: Fernando Seguignol: check!
20: Mike Fitzgerald and Brandon Watson: check!
21: Larry Jaster: check!
22: Rondell White: check!
23: Mitch Webster and Grant Jackson: check!
24: Darrin Fletcher: check!
25: David Segui: check!
27: Andy McGaffigan: check!
29: Tim Wallach (and again here): check!
30: my favourite ball player of all time, Tim Raines (and Cliff Floyd): check!
32: Dennis Martinez: check!
33: Carlos Perez and Peter Bergeron: check!
34: Gil Heredia (also wore #52): check!
35: Otis Nixon: check!
37: Buck Rodgers: check!
41: Brian Barnes (also wore #47): check!
44: Tim Burke and Ken Hill: check!
45: Michael Barrett (also wore #5), Carl Pavano and the great Steve Rogers: check!
46: Kevin Gross: check!
47:  Brian Barnes (also wore #41): check!
50: Jay Tibbs: check!
51: Randy St. Claire, Mike Thurman, and Scott Stewart: check!
54: Tim Scott: check!
55: Bill Sampen: check!
57: John Wetteland: check!
62: Henry Mateo: check!
64: Keith Evans: check!
66: Andy Tracy: check!
73: Josh Labandeira: check!

Friday, July 12, 2019

Paul Holmgren Three Autographed Cards

Paul Holmgren has had prominent roles with the Philadelphia Flyers for over 40 years at this point, so many always assume he's one of the all-time greats alongside Bobby Clarke, Bernard Parent, Ron Hextall and Eric Lindros.

That is absolutely not the case.

In 500 games with the Flyers, Holmgren's 309 points don't stand out as much as his 1600 penalty minutes, and he wasn't part of one of the two championship teams, having come in to play a single game in 1975-76, a full year after Philly's last Stanley Cup.

He only surpassed the 20-goal mark twice, scoring 22 in 1980-81 and 30 in 1979-80, and even that was only good for fith on the team, behind Reggie Leach (50), Bill Barber (40), Brian Propp (34) and Rick MacLeish (31). That was a weird season in Philadelphia, as captain Clarke not only posted 69 points (good for fifth on the team behind Ken Linseman, Leach, Propp and Barber) but was also in his first of three seasons as assistant-coach on the team. He played two years past his three-year stint as assistant-coach... not that's a legend.

In case you were wondering where I was going with this, Holmgren resigned as the team's President earlier today and joined the ranks of "advisor" alongside Clarke, his predecessor both as GM and President.

Unlike Clarke, however, "Homer" made a lot of questionable moves that greatly backfired, such as trading young (and heavy-partying) core players Mike Richards and Jeff Carter to make room under the salary cap to sign the second-best available free agent goalie on the market, Ilya Bryzgalov, to a nine-year, $51M contract, a deal that was bought out in the summer of 2013 after two seasons and that will be on the Flyers' cap until 2027. (For the record, I don't think Richards and Carter get the wake-up call that turns them into two-time Cup champions if they don't get traded, so at least there's that).

Oh, and to make room for him on the roster, he traded Sergei Bobrovsky to the Columbus Blue Jackets for a second-round pick and two fourth-rounders; Bob, of course, would go on to win two Vezina trophies as the league's best goalie in Columbus and is the only active goalie who can make such a claim. (And yes, Henrik Lundqvist is till playing and just has one to his name).

By the way, the best free agent goalie on the market the year Bryz was signed? That was perennial All-Star Tomas Vokoun, who signed a one-year deal worth $1.5M.

Holmgren is also the one who traded playoff best and projected 30-goal forward James van Riemsdyk (he would hit the mark twice and come close another two in the following six seasons) to the Toronto Maple Leafs for defensive defenseman on a down slide Luke Schenn.

Was he also able to trade away valuable draft picks, you ask? How about the first-rounder who became John Carlson for defenseman Steve Eminger (man, does he ever love those stay-at-home defensemen!), who played a total of 12 games in Philadelphia (0 goals, 2 assists, 8 penalty minutes) before being shipped out?

Then there was the free agent signings of Nikolay Zherdev and the trade for Andrej Meszaros which put the team over the cap, forcing them to trade away a contract - namely that of fan-favourite and playoff hero Simon Gagné, a two-time 40-*goal scorer and one opf the most prolific scorers of the Dead Puck Era - for (you guessed it!) defensive defenseman Matt Walker, who played the final 8 games of his 314-game career with the Flyers. Gagné reached the Cup Final the following season with the Tampa Bay Lightning and won the Cup with Richards and Carter on a mighty Flyer-heavy 2012 Los Angeles Kings squad.

A trade of pests? Sure! Effective checking winger and semi-power forward Scottie Upshall for dirtbag and suspension magnet Dan "Carbomb" Carcillo comes to mind...

And yet he kept failing upwards. Until as team Preseident, he hired Hextall as GM, who did an admirable job stocking up the cupboards with blue chip prospects and getting rid of Holmgren's terrible contracts. Hextall was assitant-HGM on the Cup-winning Kings of 2012 and 2014, so he was more than familiar with the Flyers' roster; it was a marriage that lasted for four seasons, until last Christmas, when Holgmren decided Hextall wasn't bold enough and took his place to finish up the season, until he found his replacement in the form of Chuck Fletcher, the man who saddled the Minnesota Wild with so many bad contracts that they were never good enough to make a dent in the post-season despite carrying not one but two (Ryan Suter and Zach Parise) players on identical 13-year, $98M contracts.

Of course, the first few things Fletcher did was get rid of a third of the defense and, most importantly, sign Kevin Hayes - a middle-six center who had only reached the 50-point plateau once, and that was last year - to an albatross seven-year, $50M contract that includes a no-movement clause that guarantees he will have to take up a protection spot for next season's expansion draft.

Bold. Extremely stupid and ill-advised, but bold.

So, yeah. Holmgren.

This is what he looked like when patrolling the ice in a Flyers uniform, collecting penalty minutes the way some folks do frequent flyer miles:
The card on the left is #105 in Topps' 1981-82 Topps set, while the one on the right is #434 from In The Game's 2004-05 Franchises: U.S. East collection. Both feature him in the classic 1970s orange (away) uniform.

A Minnesota native, Holmgren started out his professional career playing for the WHA's Minnesota Fighting Saints for most of the 1975-76 season, and he returned to his home state at the tail end of his career, suiting up with the Minnesota North Stars for 27 games spread over two seasons, as seen on card #100 from O-Pee-Chee's 1984-85 O-Pee-Chee set:
He's wearing the team's amazing 1980s green (away) uniform. I miss those so much.

All three were signed in black sharpie in February 2018 when the Flyers were in Montréal.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

My Habs Numbers Project: An Introduction

So many hockey collectors have ''special projects'' they pursue to make their hobby even more fun, from trying to gather specific cards from every single Vancouver Canucks goalie to having an autographed card of every player who has reached the 1000-point mark.

I decided to start a project myself: to gather a special piece (jersey cards could work, but ideally an autographed card) from a player from every number worn by a member of the Montréal Canadiens.
Here's a look at the task that's ahead of me, starting with those I have:

Head Coach: Scotty Bowman: check!
1: Brian Hayward, Roland Melanson and Rick Wamsley: check!
2: Gaston Gingras (also wore #29): check!
3: Sylvain Lefebvre once (then twice), and Brian Engblom: check!
4: the one and only Jean Béliveau: check!
5: Stéphane Quintal and Guy Lapointe: check!
6: Ralph Backstrom: check!
8: Brandon Prust: check!
10: Guy Lafleur: check!
11: Claude Larose and Ryan Walter: check!
12: Yvan Cournoyer and Mike Keane: check! (also: Darcy Tucker)
13: Alex Tanguay: check!
14: Mario Tremblay: check! (also, Tomas Plekanec, who also wore #35)
15: Réjean Houle once, (then twice), and Bobby Smith: check! (also: George Parros)
16: Henri Richard: check!
17: Georges Laraque and Benoît Brunet: check!
18: Valeri Bure: check!, and Serge Savard: signed lithograph check!
20: Phil Goyette: check!
21: Brian Gionta: once, then twice, and Christopher Higgins: check!
22: Steve Shutt, Steve Bégin and Gilbert Dionne: check!
23: Turner Stevenson: check! (twice)
24: Andreas Dackell: postcard check!
25: Vincent Damphousse: check!
26: Josh Gorges: check!
27: Alex Kovalev: jersey card check!
28: Kyle Chipchura and Éric Desjardins: check!
29: Gaston Gingras (also wore #2) and Brett Clark: check! 
30: Mathieu Garon: postcard check, Peter Budaj, and David Aebischer: check!
31: Carey Price: check! (also Jeff Hackett)
32: Travis Moen: check!
34: Peter Popovic: check!
35: Alex Auld: check! (also, Tomas Plekanec, who wore #14 as well)
36: Marcel Hossa (also wore 81) and Matt D'Agostini: check!
37: Steve Penney and André Racicot: check!
38: Nikita Scherbak: check!
40: Maxim Lapierre: check! (also, this Éric Chouinard postcard)
41: Jaroslav Halak: check!
42: Alexander Perezhogin: check!
43: Patrice Brisebois and Andrew Cassels: check!
44: Stéphane Richer: check!
45: Gilbert Dionne: check!
46: Andrei Kostitsyn: 8x10 check!
47: Brendon Nash and Stéphan Lebeau (also wore #50): check!
48: Jean-Jacques Daigneault, and James Wyman: check!
49: Brian Savage: check!
50: Stéphan Lebeau (also wore #47): check!
51: David Desharnais: check! (also wore #58)
52: Craig Rivet: postcard check!
54: Patrick Traverse: postcard check!
55: Francis Bouillon (also wore #51): check!
57: Blake Geoffrion: check!
58: David Desharnais: check! (also wore #51)
59: Brock Trotter: check!
60: José Theodore: check and check again!
61: Raphael Diaz: check!
63: Craig Darby: check!
64: Greg Pateryn: check!
65: Robert Mayer and Andrew Shaw: check!
67: Max Pacioretty: check!
68: Yannick Weber: check!
70: Zachary Fucale: 4x6 picture check!
71: Louis Leblanc and Mike Ribeiro: check!
72: Mathieu Carle: check!
73: Michael Ryder: check!
74: Alexei Emelin: check!
75: Yann Danis: check!
76: P.K. Subban: jersey card check!
77: Pierre Turgeon: check!
79: Andrei Markov: check!
80: Ben Maxwell: check!
81: Lars Eller: check!
84: Guillaume Latendresse: check!
91: Scott Gomez: check!
94: Yanic Perreault and Tom Pyatt: check!

Captains: Béliveau, Gionta, Turgeon

Which means I'm looking to fill these:

7: This will be the hardest, seeing as Howie Morenz died in 1937 and the number was soon retired...
9: There are signature cards of Maurice 'The Rocket' Richard, but I don't think I'll ever be able to afford one!
19: This one will likely be between Terry Harper and Larry Robinson
33: Of course, my boyhood idol is Patrick Roy. Richard Sévigny would also be fine.
39: I think I also have a Reid Simpson one, but I'd love to upgrade to a Cristobal Huet or Enrico Ciccone
53: Rory Fitzpatrick and Ryan White have worn this number the longest
56: David Wilkie, Alain Nasreddine, Scott Fraser and Stéphane Robidas are the only ones to have worn this number in Montréal
62: It's a toss-up between Duncan Milroy and Frédéric St-Denis, but I did send St-Denis cards this season
66: Has only been worn in pre-season games
69: another pre-season number
78: I probably have some Éric Landry stuff somewhere...
82: It'd be nice to have Donald Audette's signature on a Canadiens' product
83: I don't even remember Éric Bertrand, but I'll gladly take the refresher course
85: never been worn, huh
86: Jonathan Ferland
87: never been worn
88: Chris Higgins wore it for a short while, as did Xavier Delisle
89: never been worn
90: I have lots of Joé Juneau cards, none of them signed
92: never been worn
93: the one and only Doug Gilmour
95: goalie Olivier Michaud would make my day, but Sergei Berezin would be fine as well
96, 97, 98, 99: have never been worn

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

My Canucks Numbers Project: An Introduction

After my Habs Numbers Project, my Oilers Numbers Project and my Sens Numbers Project, might as well get started publicly admitting I'm also on a Canucks Numbers Project.
The team as it is known now was founded in 1970 and has changed uniforms a lot since, at the rate of once every five years or so, usually in a complete overhaul.

The Canucks' and Sens' players have been the most responsive in answering my requests, I think, when it comes to current players, in the many years since I've started blogging about cards and collectibles, and I've been getting a decent amount of in-pack hits as well to get me started on my quest, with 28/66 worn uniform numbers accounted for so far, which is why I decided to pursue the task.

Here's the list of those I have featured here thus far:

Head Coach: Marc Crawford: check!
1: Roberto Luongo: 4x6 check!
2: Dan Hamhuis: check!
3: Kevin Bieksa, Brent Sopel and Doug Lidster: check!
5: Bryan Allen (twice): check!
6: Adrian Aucoin: check!
7: David Roberts: check!
10: Pavel Bure: check!
12: Stan Smyl: check!
14: Alexandre Burrows (twice) and Geoff Courtnall: check!
16: Trevor Linden once, (then twice): check!
17: Ryan Kesler, Radim Vrbata and Bill Muckalt: check!
18: Igor Larionov: check!
19: Markus Naslund, Petr Nedved and Jim Sandlak: check!
21: Mason Raymond: check!
22: Daniel Sedin: jersey card check!
24: Curt Fraser: check!
25: Dan Kesa: check!
26: Frank Corrado: check!
27: Sergio Momesso: check!
33: Henrik Sedin: jersey card check!
35: Alex Auld and Troy Gamble: check!
36: Jannik Hansen: check!
40: Maxim Lapierre: check!
41: Curtis Sanford: check!
45: Jordan Schroeder: check!
46: Nicklas Jensen: check!
47: Yann Sauvé: check!
49: Zack Fitzgerald: check!
58: Robert Kron: check!

Captains: 5 of 13: Smyl, Lidster, Linden, Naslund, Luongo, H. Sedin

Which means I'm looking to fill these (luckily I have all 4 retired numbers):

4: GM Jim Benning, Gerald Diduck or Nolan Baumgartner would be nice
8: Willie Mitchell and Chris Tanev
9: I sent Zack Kassian mail years ago, might have to ask Brad May instead
11: no one's worn it since Mark Messier's odd turn as a Canuck
13: Nick Bonino's number, Raffi Torres' too
15: the most-worn number in team history
20: I really liked Alexander Semak back in the day
23: Alexander Edler or Marc Bergevin work well here
28: I've been meaning to write Dave Capuano...
29: Aaron Rome or Tom Sestito work
30: I'll try Ryan Miller and Garth Snow
31: Eddie Lack did not respond, I'll try Corey Hirsch
32: I tried Dale Wiese last year, I'll give it more time
34: I probably have a Jassen Cullimore
37: Jarkko Ruutu would be cool
38: Pavol Demitra or Jan Bulis would be nice
39: this is Dan Cloutier's number
42: Josef Beranek wore it first
44: I have a Todd Bertuzzi signed insert card somewhere...

And the following numbers have only been worn by one or two players: 48, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 57, 62, 64, 66, 71, 72, 77, 79, 81, 89 and 96.

Monday, July 8, 2019

My Oilers Numbers Project: An Introduction

Long-time readers are probably familiar with my Habs Numbers Project, where I'm attempting to get a collectible item - ideally an autograph, but a jersey card will do - of a representative of every jersey number ever worn by a member of the Montréal Canadiens.

Since it's well underway and moving along nicely, I thought I could do the same for the Edmonton Oilers, seeing as I've already published 53, so I'm more than halfway there just by what I've already written, without counting my existing and extensive backlog.
Spoiler alert: I don't have anything from Wayne Gretzky. I don't think I'll ever be able to afford to, either, and he doesn't sign TTM, understandably - though many collectors confuse his autopen for an autograph. Which, when I get there, I might also count, myself (though I don't have one of those either).

Here's what I have:

1: Ty Conklin: check!
2: Eric Brewer and Lee Fogolin: check!
4: Kevin Lowe: check!
5: Steve Smith and Ladislav Smid (again here): check!
6: Jeff Beukeboom: check!
8: Joe Murphy: check!
9: Bill Guerin: check!
10: Shawn Horcoff, Pat Falloon, and Nail Yakupov: check!
12: Adam Graves: check!
13: Ken Linseman and Andrew Cogliano: check!
14: Raffi Torres: check!
16: Kelly Buchberger and Jarret Stoll: check!
17: Jari Kurri: jersey card check!
18: Craig Simpson: check!
19: Boyd Devereaux and Patrick O'Sullivan: check!
21: Vincent Damphousse and Andrew Ference: check!
22: Charlie Huddy: check!
23: Sean Brown: check!
24:  Theo Peckham and Kevin McClelland: check!
25: Mike Grier: check!
26: Mike Krushelnyski and Brad Winchester: check!
27: Scott Mellanby, Georges Laraque and Boyd Gordon: check!
28: Craig Muni: check!
29: Ty Conklin: dual jersey card check, will look to improve
30: Bill Ranford: check!
31: Grant Fuhr: jersey card check!
33: Dan McGillis: check!
35: Mikhail Shtalenkov: check!
37: Lennart Petrell: check!
38: Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers: check!
39: Doug Weight: check!
40: Devan Dubnyk: check!
42: David Oliver: check!
44: Chris Pronger: jersey card check!
48: Ryan Hamilton: check!
49: Theo Peckham: check!
51: Philippe Cornet and Andrei Kovalenko: check!
54: Chris VandeVelde: check!
56: Teemu Hartikainen: check!
57: David Perron: jersey card check!
58: Jeff Petry: check!
62: Mark Arcobello (also wore #26): check!
64: Nail Yakupov: check!
67: Benoit Pouliot: check!
68: Tyler Pitlick: check!
77: Garry Unger and Tom Gilbert: check!
78: Jordan Eberle (also wore #14): check!
81: Taylor Fedun: check!
83: Ales Hemsky: check!
85: Petr Klima: check!
89: Sam Gagner (twice) and Mike Comrie: check!
91: Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson: check (twice)!
94: Ryan Smyth: check and check again!

Captains: Fogolin, Lowe, Buchberger, Ference, Smyth

Numbers 50, 53, 61, 63, 66, 69, 70, 72, 73, 74, 75, 79, 82, 86, 87, 90, 92, 95, 96, 97, and 98 have not been worn by Oilers players, which means I'm looking to fill these:

3: Al Hamilton is the only one who's worn this number in team history
7: Paul Coffey, Martin Gélinas, Jason Arnott and Dan Cleary are good calls
11: Well, that's Mark Messier
15: This number changes owners almost yearly
20: Five players wore it in 1994 alone, 27 in total
31: Eddie Mio, Grant Fuhr and Curtis Joseph have all worn this with success
32: Miroslav Satan, Ron Tugnutt and Mathieu Garon come to mind
34: I'll be writing Donald Dufresne next year, but Fernando Pisani would also be nice
36: Tough guy Dennis Bonvie may have worn it the longest - 2 years
41: Brent Gilchrist or Jean-François Jacques might be the easiest to get
43: Dennis Bonvie and Jason Strudwick have worn this one
45:  I liked Shawn Belle
46: Tough guy Zack Stortini would rule
47: Paul Comrie or Marc-André Bergeron work here
52: Allen Rouke and Jerred Smithson have worn this one
55: Igor Ulanov and Alex Henry were tough defenders
59: Brad Hunt is the lone bearer, and it happened this year
60: Sébastien Bisaillon wore this in 2010
65: Mark Napier wore this in 1987
67: Gilbert Brulé never replied to any of my TTMs
71: It's a toss-up between Petr Sykora and Lubomir Visnovsky
76: Bryan Young had it for one season
80: Ilya Bryzgalov, may have missed my chance with this one
84: Oscar Klefbom wore it last year
88: Rob Schremp wore it half a decade ago
93: It's between Petr Nedved and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
99: The Great One, Wayne Gretzky

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Sebastian Aho Jersey Card

It's now official: the Carolina Hurricanes have matched the Montréal Canadiens' offer sheet, ensuring Sebastian Aho's rights remain in Carolina for up to five more years, at an average of $8.45M per.

It is widely believed that the front-loaded deal was a no-brainer for the Canes to match because the compensation (a first-rounder, a second-rounder and a third-rounder next season) was almost inevitably going to land the team lesser players and that the team valued the cost certainty of securing their young superstar's services until the youngest possible age at which he would be able to become an unrestricted free agent (the major caveat for them in the deal, the other one being that Aho will be making $21M of the total $42.27M in less than a year, because most of it is structured as signing bonuses).

Had the Habs offered between $1000 more and an extra million and a half per, the compensation would have been two first-rounders, a second and a third - which may have given the Canes more of a reason to reflect on that.

Aho himself was a second-round pick (35th overall) from a strong 2015 draft class that has already produced these NHL players: Connor McDavid (the best player in the sport, 1st), Jack Eichel (the Buffalo Sabres' cornerstone, for better or worse, 2nd), Dylan Strome (3rd), Mitch Marner (this summer's prized RFA, 4th), Noah Hanifin (5th), Pavel Zacha (6th), Ivan Provorov (7th), Zach Weresnki (8th), Timo Meier (9th), Mikko Rantanen (10th, one-third of the best line in hockey last year), Lawson Crouse (11th), Jake DeBrusk (14th), Mathew Barzal (16th), Kyle Connor (17th),  Thomas Chabot (18th and already Erik Karlsson's replacement with the Ottawa Senators),  Evgeny Svechnikov (19th), Joel Eriksson Ek (20th), Colin White (21st), Ilya Samsonov (22nd, star KHL goalie), Brock Boeser (23rd), Travis Konecny (24th), promising defenseman Noah Juulsen (26th), Anthony Beauvillier (28th), Christian Fischer (32nd), Brandon Carlo (37th), Daniel Sprong (46th), Roope Hintz (49th), Jordan Greenaway (50th), Rasmus Andersson (53rd), Vince Dunn (56th), Anthony Cirelli (72nd), goaltending prospect Samuel Montembeault (77th), Austin Wagner (99th), Denis Malgin (148th), Christian Wolanin (107th), Dominik Simon (137th), Christian Jaros (139th), and Markus Nutivaara (189th).

I like Aho's progression, from a 49-point rookie to a 65-point sophomore to a 30-goal, 83-point third-year player at 21 years of age, showing he just got better as he garnered more attention from the opposing team's best checkers. I'd rather have an $8.5M Aho than a $10M+ Marner on my cap for sure.

Here he is wearing the Canes' plain red uniform, on card #GJ-SA from Upper Deck's 2018-19 Series 1 set and UD Game Jersey sub-set (sorry for the cropped scan, the actual card is roughly three millimetres longer at the bottom):

It features a white game-used jersey swatch.