Thursday, May 28, 2015

Ryan Kujawinski Autograph Card

Well, I do have some nice Memorial Cup autographs to share in the near future, but I thought I could remain in the CHL but send my eyes towards the OHL's Kingston Frontenacs and North Bay Batallion's Ryan Kujawinski, who signed an entry-level deal with the New Jersey Devils earlier today.

Kujawinski had been New Jersey's second pick (73rd overall, in the third round) at the 2013 draft, the Devils were probably hoping the 6'2'', 210-pound center would eventually develop into a hidden gem power-center - ideally a second-liner with grit, speed and play-making abilities in the same vein as Ryan Getzlaf but, obviously, not at the same level as the should-have-been-a-Hart-Trophy-nominee.

Except that in Juniors, he was never a point-per-game guy, not even this season as a 20-year-old playing against teenagers - and certainly not in the playoffs, where his totals spread over three seasons are 9 goals, 4 assists (13 points) in 26 games, with 15 penalty minutes. Still, speculation as to how he'd perform was very positive before the season started.

There have been games where he's looked unstoppable, but usually he's kept pretty quiet, considering the quality of opposition. In that respect, he reminds me a bit of the Montréal Canadiens' Lars Eller, who has the complete skill-set including size but somehow fails to find the consistency required to excel in the top-6 for a full season.

But bigger players usually take longer to develop, and Kujawinski might turn out to be a late bloomer. The Devils could certainly need the help offensively, though in my opinion he's easily a couple of years away from the NHL at the very least. Working in his favour is the fact that in the modern-day NHL, semi-stars and high-end grinders now have similar statistics in the 40-to-55-point range as most teams play a defense-first chess-like system that creates and limits chances (i.e. evens things out) no matter who is playing.

That being said, here's the reason why I know anything about him, from In The Game's 2012-13 Draft Prospect set (card #A-RK of the Autograph sub-set, the Silver Version variant), showing him in the Frontenacs' Boston Bruins-inspired (circa 1934-36) uniform:
It features an on-card autograph, signed in thin black sharpie with his jersey number (17) tagged at the end. Boxes of 12 cards sell for around $60, which is a bargain if you get a Nathan MacKinnon auto or Sergei Fedorov jersey card, but steep if you factor in the design that's similar to any of their usual Heroes And Prospects sets and the small amount of cardboard received in exchange for your hard-earned cash.

The card's nice, I'll give it a B+, but the set itself gets a C+ after factoring the cost.

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