Sunday, April 18, 2021

Corey Perry Swatch Card

(team links go to sponsored Amazon products, player links go to related pages on my blog, news links go to source pages)

Let me preface this by saying that Corey Perry's production this season with the Montréal Canadiens has exceeded expectations for a banged-up 35-year-old, for a player signed to $750K for a single season and for a player who had to go through waivers to be put on the taxi squad to start the season, as a healthy scratch for the opening game. Just like Michael Frolik.

He's had games where he's been a game-breaker, but he's also had games where he's been largely invisible, tired.

After stepping in to help a struggling powerplay under former head coach Claude Julien, Perry pretty much just stayed on despite the team middling in 21st position in that regard, an accepted fact like Daylight Savings Time. What should have happened before the Habs blew their allocated post-trade deadline call-up limits was alternating him and Frolik so whoever slotted in would give it their all knowing they didn't have to keep any energy for the next game.

Interim head coach Dominique Ducharme is on a tight leash: he doesn't have a contract for next season, but he also doesn't owe his veterans anything. He should have the leeway to make bold moves and think outside the box, unlike Julien, who has historically preferred benching and punishing his rookies and sophomores for every minor mistake they made while giving older guys the benefit of the doubt, usually with disappointing results.

And yet there are Perry, Jonathan Drouin, Shea Weber, Carey Price, Eric Staal et al., getting their regular shifts in despite younger players outperforming them, in the hopes that they'll turn their season around at some point.

Considering the team was the last one invited to last season's post-season play-in and had missed out on the playoffs the previous three seasons, it's a trend you would have hoped would have been bucked with a new coach, a fresh face, a new message. So either Ducharme's been told directly by GM Marc Bergevin to toe the company line or he feels it's his best bet for an extension; either way, it's short-sighted, and he's not showcasing anything special for any of the other 30 (soon to be 31) teams to keep him in mind for their future vacant coaching jobs.

And I mean all of that specifically out of respect for the former Hart and Rocket Richard Trophy winner, as attested from this card commemorating his heyday:
That's card #1 from the Banner Season sub-set of Panini's 2011-12 Limited collection, featuring a two-colour stitch from a game-worn jersey swatch.

Perry has won a Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks, played in a Final with the Dallas Stars last season, and has two Olympic gold medals with Team Canada (2010 and 2014), World Championship gold (2016, as captain), a Canada Cup (2016), World Juniors gold (2005) and a Memorial Cup (2004-05).

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Anthony Mantha Jersey Card

(team links go to sponsored Amazon products, player links go to related pages on my blog, news links go to source pages)

The comments sections of all hockey news sources (and pretend-pundits) were adamant that Detroit Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman had essentially committed highway robbery when he traded power forward Anthony Mantha to the Washintgton Capitals for - admittedly - a large haul, namely forwards Richard Panik and Jakub Vrana, plus a first-round pick in 2021 and a second-rounder in 2022. A lot of those folks were saying Vrana himself was worth Mantha because they had similar statistics this season.

Yeah... no. Sure, Mantha only has 11 goals so far, but that placed him first on the Wings, whereas Vrana's 11 put him in a three-way tie for fourth on the team, and he played in five more games than Tom Wilson, who would have jumped ahead anytime soon. Mantha's struggles this season can be attributed to how bad the roster in Detroit is, and how coach Jeff Blashill has allowed every single individual on it to regress.

Mantha is about to enter his prime as an elite-scoring power forward - think "Tom Wilson with more goals and no suspensions". He went from 24 goals and 48 points in 80 games 2017-18 to 25 goals and 48 points in just 67 games (injury) in 2018-19 to 16 goals and 38 points in 43 games in last year's Covid-reduced season. He's about to enter a sequence of four or five 30-goal seasons in a six-year span, and now that he's surrounded by elite talent in Washington, he can actualy aim for 40 once or twice. I don't know that Vrana will be a permanent fixture in Detroit, if only because their structure seems to rely so much on having three second lines and no elite talent up front, which leaves me with the impression tha the could be dealt for a few picks himself at next year's deadline.

Mantha sure started things off on the right foot with a goal and an assist in his first game as a Cap, and he's been quoted as being ecstatic about moving from a last-place team to a Stanely Cup contender. I'm not sure their defense compares to that of the Tampa Bay Lightning or Colorado Avalanche, and we have yet to see them in action against the Toronto Maple Leafs or Edmonton Oilers, and their goaltending is unproven in the postseason, but the Capitals have shown that they can dominate against the Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins, at least, and having a sniper of Mantha's caliber on their second line will give them that much more of a chance.

Here he is wearing the Wings' white (away) uniform on card #GJ-AM from Upper Deck's 2018-19 Series 1 collection and UD Game Jersey sub-set:
It features a matching white game-worn jersey swatch.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

David Savard Autographed Card

(team links go to sponsored Amazon products, player links go to related pages on my blog, news links go to source pages)

With apologies to the ghost of Taylor Hall, the biggest "get" at the 2021 NHL trade deadline has to be the trade that sent rugged defenseman David Savard to the Tampa Bay Lightning by way of the Columbus Blue Jackets retaining 50% of his salary and the Detroit Red Wings taking on 25% of their own for a fourth-round pick in the next draft. Columbus grabbed a 2021 first-rounder and a 2022 third-rounder. Detroit also unloaded Brian Lashoff to Tampa in the deal, which gives them even more depth and experience.

This sets the Bolts up as the heavy favourites to repeat as Stanley Cup champions, as Savard not only replaces last year's trade deadline rentals Kevin Shattenkirk and Zach Bogosian, but he's also an upgrade on both of them; despite slowing down a bit in the past couple of years and his offensive game giving way to a more robust defending acumen, the Team Canada alumnus (2015 World Championship gold with a perfect 10-0 record) remains a force, a legitimate top-four option and an ideal stay-at-home counterpart to, say, a Victor Hedman on the first unit, or the type of player who can make Mikhail Sergachev look like Hedman out there. And he's hungry for a Cup. And he's fresh off playing for John Tortorella for a long time, so he's disciplined and hard-working.

He makes an already perfect team even better, retaining its favourite status despite the upgrades the Vegas Golden Knights, Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers, Boston Bruins or Washington Capitals might try to pull.

Here he is wearing the Blue Jackets' blue (home) uniform, on card #400 from the 2016-17 O-Pee-Chee collection by Upper Deck:
He signed it in silver sharpie at the same time as the card I featured last year, I had just misplaced it when writing that post up.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Box Break: 2020-21 Upper Deck Series 1 Hockey

(team and set links go to sponsored Amazon products, player links go to related pages on my blog, news links go to source pages)
For the past couple of months, every time I'd seen boxes of Upper Deck's 2020-21 Series 1 boxes, they were well over $200, because the market was going nuts for a certain rookie card. They're back around $120 at the moment for retail boxes, so I thought I'd give the product another try.

I was able to land a couple of foil Dazzler cards of Anze Kopitar and Sidney Crosby, though the Crosby is dented and has the bottom-right portion of the card bent:
It'll have no retail value, but my kids will be able to play with it and I won't get a heart attack if they tear it apart

I got three "regular-issue" Canvas cards, featuring Jonathan Huberdeau in a weird angle, Roman Josi playing soccer, and a view from the ceiling of Bell MTS Place of Kyle Connor (look closely, he's there):
There was also this great-looking Canvas Young Guns card of Pavel Francouz:
I pulled a jersey card of Braden Holtby, featuring three-dimensional round spots:
I guess I'll have to not only get used of the Portraits sub-set, but also of getting repeated duplicates of Jack Hugues, Max Domi and Nathan MacKinnon:
But this Portraits Rookie card of Martin Kaut was a pretty sweet pull:
Of course, the main reason why the cost of these boxes went sky-high is the Young Guns inserts, such as Lucas Carlsson and Martin Kaut:
There is also Artem Zagidulin and Ryan McLeod:
And, yes (FINALLY! On my second Retail box, after two Tins!) Alexis Lafrenière and Kieffer Bellows:
Of note, because of the closed border and confinement rules, the picture was taken at my alma mater, Collège Notre-Dame, where (former) NHLers Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre, Ben Guité, Mathieu Darche, Tom Draper and Alex Burrows also played, as well as Team Canada Olympians Ann-Sophie Bettez and Lauriane Rougeau.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Chandler Stephenson: Two Autographed Cards

(team and set links go to sponsored Amazon products, player links go to related pages on my blog, news links go to source pages)
Chandler Stephenson had decent statistics in Juniors, nearly a point per game going into the 2012 draft, a point per in 2012-13 after the Washington Capitals made him their third-round pick (77th overall) and 89 points in 69 games in 2013-14, before making the leap to the AHL with the Hershey Bears, where he also improved yearly from 14 to 28 to 38 points, but it was still a toss-up whether he'd end up being a third-liner or on one of the offensive lines, and whether he'd be a winger or a center. He was a full-time NHL rookie in 2017-18 (18 points in 67 regular-season games and 7 points in 24 playoff games) when the Caps won the Stanley Cup.

The Capitals were disappointed with his next season and a half, and he was moved to the Vegas Golden Knights - ironically the team they beat in the Cup Final - midway through last season, and his performance to close out the 2019-20 campaign (8 goals, 14 assists, 22 points and a +19 rating in 41 games) was obviously part of the decision-making process when it was decided the Knights would trade Paul Stastny to the Winnipeg Jets to make room under the salary cap to sign Alex Pietrangelo. With 20 points in 32 games, he's well worth the $2.75M cap hit.

The 2012 draft featured a terrific crop of hardware collectors; among those selected before Stephenson are Tom Wilson (16th, Stanley Cup), Teuvo Teravainen (18th, Cup), Andrei Vasilevskiy (19th, Cup and Vezina Trophy), Olli Maatta (22nd, two Cups), and Tanner Pearson (30th, Cup), and among those selected after him are Oskar Sundqvist (81st, Cup), Matt Murray (83rd, two Cups), Colton Parayko (86th, Cup), Cédric Paquette (101st, Cup), Connor Hellebuyck (130th, Vezina) and Christian Djoos (195th, Cup), as well as a bunch of Cup finalists in Filip Forsberg (11th), Malcolm Subban (24th), Pontus Aberg (37th), Colton Sissons (50th), Chris Tierney (55th), Esa Lindell (74th), Matt Grzelcyk (85th) and Colin Miller (151st), and a dominant Jaccob Slavin (120th).

But the Golden Knights will have to make do without their seventh-leading scorer for the next three games after he was suspended for elbowing Los Angeles Kings defenseman Tobias Bjornfot. This punishment comes on the heels of fines to Connor McDavid (for elbowing forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi of the Montréal Canadiens) and Nathan MacKinnon (throwing a helmet at Conor Garland of the Arizona Coyotes), signaling that star players have started retaliating to the myriad of uncalled questionable shots they themselves have received for the past few years.

Here he is from his Juniors days with the WHL's Regina Pats, first with the white (home) uniform on card #236 from In The Game's 2011-12 Heroes And Prospects Update boxed set:
And here he is wearing their blue (away) uniform, on card #138 from ITG's 2012-13 Heroes And Prospects collection:
He signed them in black sharpie while playing with the Bears in the Capitals organization, adding his jersey number (22) and trying to blend it in with the uniforms.