Monday, August 29, 2011

Derek Roy Autograph Card

One team I'm sure will surprise many this season is the Buffalo Sabres, who have improved their defense, offense, and have one of the 5 best goalies on the planet in Ryan Miller.

But their key marquee player remains the underestimated Derek Roy, who is a Jonathan Toews-type of player: a point-per-game or close who is also very capable of playing in his own end and taking the puck away from opponents.

Plus, he's a capable leader, as he serves as his team's current alternate captain and has been a captain in juniors - for his OHL team the Kitchener Rangers, which he led to the Memorial Cup, where he even won the MVP trophy, the Stafford Smythe Memorial Trophy.

He has also twice won silver for Team Canada - once at the World Juniors (2003), and once at the World Championships (2008). And how do you make a winning team? By incorporating winners into it. And Derek sure is one.

This card (#DR) is from Upper Deck's 2006-07 Be A Player set and features Roy wearing the Sabres' infamous ''slug'' jersey in its white version.  His signature - from a black sharpie - is on a sticker which was apposed onto the card.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Pat Falloon Autograph Card

Pat Falloon was the second player chosen overall at the 1991 draft, behind ''The (First) Next One'', Eric Lindros. He was also the San Jose Sharks' very first pick ever.

As the first pick of an expansion franchise, one is expected to be the cornerstone of the team for years to come, perhaps a decade or longer, but Falloon never even reached the 60-point plateau. After a little more than 4 seasons, the Sharks dealt him to the Philadelphia Flyers, where he played well for two and a half years before being sent to the Ottawa Senators in return for another top-pick ''flop'', Alexandre Daigle. He also had brief stints with the Edmonton Oilers and Pittsburgh Penguins when neither of these teams were close to their dynasty form of 10 years previous.

Over the years, he was nicknamed ''Fat Balloon'' for his lack of conditioning. Despite all that, he still managed to gather 322 points in 575 NHL games - perhaps insufficient for a top-line player and second-overall pick, but pretty decent for a hockey player, period. But players chosen after him and Lindros at the draft went on to have better careers, such as Scott Niedermayer (3rd), Peter Forsberg (6th), Brian Rolston (11th), Alexei Kovalev (15th), Markus Naslund (16th), Ray Whitney (23rd), Zigmund Palffy (26th), and Sandis Ozolinsh (30th).

The card is from The Score Board's 1991-92 Classic Draft Picks set, and is ''extremely limited'' numbered 546/1100, a signed insert in blue sharpie. He is shown wearing the Spokane Chiefs' then-away jersey, modeled on the Montreal Canadiens' uniform, making a play with his head down and a Canadien-brand stick.

Ted Drury Autograph Card

With the sad news of Chris Drury retiring, I thought I'd talk about this signed insert card of his older brother, former NHLer Ted Drury, from Classic's 1994-95 Classic set, which never made the Beckett price guide because it wasn't licensed by the NHL nor the NHLPA - and perhaps also because they were cheaply made and as thin as cardboard can get before it's simply called ''paper''.

It is numbered 827/1920, which Classic still dares to say is a ''limited edition''. Yes, this signed version is ''limited'' to less than 2000 - bravo. How many of the original card did you print? And why does the whole back have to be the proof/guarantee, why can't the autographed version also have Drury's stats or at least a mention of which team he was playing for or drafted by?

In this instance, Drury's wearing Team USA's colours, either from the World Juniors or the National Team, which he was a part of for two seasons. It should be mentioned that before the NHL's players were allowed to play in the Olympic games, most countries (a notable exception was the USSR, who sent a combination of the Moscow Central Red Army team and other star players) had a year-long National Team program where players practiced year-long and played friendly games against low-level professional games to get ready for the next Games.

Drury played for those teams while he attended Harvard University, where he played 3 seasons after being drafted by the Calgary Flames in 1989. He only spent half the 1993-94 season with the Flames, as he was traded to the Hartford Whalers in mid-season. After spending the 1995-96 season with the Ottawa Senators, he spent just over 3 seasons with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks - his longest tenure with a single team, ever - before bouncing around with 3 more NHL teams, 2 AHL teams and 3 German teams before reiring in 2007.

Despite moving around like a prison escapee on the run, Ted Drury still managed to put up decent checking-line numbers everywhere he went, as can be attested from these statistics:

-  93 points and 367 penalty minutes in 414 NHL games
- 121 points in 74 NCAA games
- 30 points and 33 penalty minutes in 69 AHL games
- 168 points and 384 penalty minutes in 252 DEL games