Monday, February 18, 2013

Marek Zagrapan Autograph Card

Slovakian prospect Marek Zagrapan was a first round pick (13th overall) of the Buffalo Sabres in 25, after his first of two 80+ -point seasons in the LHJMQ with the Chicoutimi Saguenéens. Unfortunately, he was never able to transpose his offensive prowess to the AHL, with 38-, 40- and 49-point seasons with the Rochester Americans and Portland Pirates.

He moved back to Europe prior to the 2009-10 season, knowing full well he was too far behind in the Sabres' depth chart at center: Derek Roy, Tim Connolly, Jochen Hecht, Paul Gaustad, Tyler Ennis, Adam Mair, Matt Ellis and Cody McCormick were all ahead of him!

He has since played in 3 different European leagues (the KHL, the Czech league, and the Swedish SM-liiga), never averaging more than 0.33 points per game.

This card was a signed insert found in packs of In The Game's 2007-08 Heroes And Prospects set (card #A-MZ).

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Mathieu Garon Signed Team Postcard

He has a winning record in the NHL (139-122-29), a career GAA of 2.83 and a .904 save percentage, yet he has only once played more than 50 games in a season - 63 for the Los Angeles Kings in 2005-06.

A second round pick of the Montréal Canadiens (44th overall) on the strength of having been the CHL's goalie of the year in Juniors, the same round that has given the team Patrick Roy and José Théodore. Unfortunately for Garon, he was behind Theodore and Jeff Hackett on the depth chart, which cost him some time, and eventually led to his trade to the Kings (for Radek Bonk and Cristobal Huet).

Ironically, I got this 2002-03 team postcard signed at the same pre-season event that netted me this Hackett autograph. It shows him wearing the Habs' white (home) uniform, and he signed it in black sharpie.

He currently warms the bench for the Tampa Bay Lightning as they figure out if they want to have Anders Lindback as their goalie of the future.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Jonathan Bernier Swatch Card

Jonathan Bernier kind of requested a trade last summer, when the Los Angeles Kings signed Jonathan Quick to a long-term contract pretty much ensuring he would be a second-stringer if he remained in L.A. He did retract himself when the season started, though, but not before winning the Spengler Cup with a stacked Team Canada in Switzerland during the lock-out and demonstrating he can, indeed, tend the nets on a daily basis in the NHL.

He has had a lot of success at lower levels: he was the LHJMQ playoff MVP in 2007, was drafted in the first round (11th overall) in 2006, played in the AHL All Star Game, and won the AHL best goalie award, the Baz Bastien trophy.

He shows a lot of promise, but has yet to impose himself as the go-to guy in the big show. Unfortunately for him, 50 goalies are drafted each year by NHL teams, from 30-some different leagues, and there are only 30 starters in the NHL... time is inevitably running out. He could end up having a career similar to that of Martin Biron, which is very respectable, just not star(ter) material.

This photo shoot-worn black swatch comes from Upper Deck's 2007-08 Series 2 set (card #RM-JB, part of the Rookie Materials sub-set). I almost always like the Kings' uniforms, and this one was pretty cool.