The future of Canadian hockey looks bright and Upper Deck has elected once again to pay tribute to that. This years Team Canada Juniors product is packed full of goodies for Canadian hockey fans. As well as collectors looking to get their hands on upcoming young players. While the majority of the product focuses on these young players, a sizable segment has been set aside to celebrate the Canadian Women’s hockey team, as well as some big name stars of past World Juniors teams. The full checklist is available here.
Team Canada – Breakdown
Considering what we are used to from Upper Deck products, this looks to actually be an affordable product with decent hit chances. Coming in around $100 Canadian, each hobby box boasts 16 packs of 5 cards each. For this you can expect to receive 4 hits, which are defined as autographs, memorabilia, or manufactured relic cards. Additionally each box should have 5 Gold Parallel base cards, 4 Program of Excellence Inserts, and 2 numbered parallel cards. Unfortunately all the autographs in the product are in sticker form, but on the upside, this means that there are absolutely no redemptions in the product. While not always the best resellers, I can only hope that Canadian hockey fans appreciate the national spirit that this product exudes.
Team Canada – Base Set
Let’s be honest with ourselves here, nobody buys hockey cards to only chase a base set, but this does not mean that we can ignore the base cards completely. The Team Canada base set actually seems like it would be a fairly fun and easy set to put together. Numbering only 100 names this set has 3 parallel versions, the Gold parallel falls at 1:3 packs, while the Exclusives and High Gloss Spectrum varieties are numbered cards /175 and /25 respectively. The front end of the product pays tribute to the women of Canadian hockey, with 22 cards dedicated to names such as Hayley Wickenheiser, Meghan Agosta-Marciano, and Natalie Spooner. This is a great way to honour a segment of hockey that is too often ignored by the collecting world.
Turning to the men’s side of the base set we immediately see names like Mitch Marner, Mackenzie Blackwood, and Hayden Fleury. These are all players that will likely make the NHL within the next couple of years, so it is always nice to grab guys like this before their debuts. The last 10 cards in the set are all legendary Canadian players and include names such as Brodeur, Sakic, and Gretzky.
Team Canada – Base Jerseys
Jersey cards are always going to be a hit/miss product. If you manage to find a nice patch card than it can have very good value, depending on the player of course, but usually single colour relic cards aren’t that popular and can be purchased quite cheaply. That being said we shouldn’t overlook the fact that for many of the young stars in this product, these are the first hockey cards that they have been featured on. This mean that for those players there may be something a little extra special about them.
Once again the set checklist has been split in two, in order to show both the men and women’s teams. The base version jerseys for Canada’s men fall at 1:16 packs, so we can expect about one per hobby box. Those cards can also be found in a Gold Parallel, which is numbered /30 or less. On the women’s side of the coin the base jerseys are found at a rate of 1:32 packs and the Gold Parallel is numbered /39 or less. For anyone wanting to put together a nice set without laying out a fortune I’d suggest these jerseys as a good opportunity.
Team Canada – Gold Spectrum Men’s Autograph Patch Set
Focusing exclusively on the men’s teams the Gold Spectrum Autograph Patches offer up the first autos of the product. Numbered /199 or less, these 38 cards feature a small patch piece and a sticker auto. Toronto Maple Leafs fans will want to watch for Mitch Marner cards, while other names that pop up include Dylan Strome, Matthew Barzal, and John Quennville. These is nothing overly spectacular about this particular set, but it still has the potential for nice patches.
Team Canada – Base Black Autographs
This set is the autograph version of the base cards. Using 82 of the original 100 names, this set offers up the opportunity to grab some nice young star or Canadian Women’s autos. The set is referred to and Black because the foil stamps are black, not because of the colour of the actual signature., which is a blue ink sticker. Fans searching for certain autos should know that the women are a 1:48 pack case hit, while the men have cards numbered /5. This means that these could be hard to find.
Team Canada – Jumbo Materials Set
Now this is a set that has some very nice hit potential, especially in the shorter print parallels. The large swatch offers more room for multi colour/patch pieces and the addition of autographed versions makes them even more desirable. The only knock I have against them would be the way that they are cut is inviting corner dings on the bottom of the card, especially since it is an Upper Deck product which has as many dings as a demolition derby. Hopefully these cards can be pulled without damage, as they will definitely be nice pulls.
To make things even better, all version of these cards are numbered. The base version is limited to 75 copies, while the base autos are /25. Premium swatches are numbered /10 and the Premium Autographs are /5. With all those different varieties there are sure to be some mega cards floating around, and without McDavid in it, this will likely be the first hockey product of the season that resale pricing isn’t skewed.
Team Canada – Local Legends Relics Set
This is an interesting little set that feels more like an in insert than an actual hit. The set strives to highlight players who have brought pride to their hometowns. The background of the card features a colour image of the region that the player is from, as well as a lightly integrated map of the region. The mem piece is small, about the size of a base jersey variety card, but has potential in the short prints. There is a little too much foil writing on the card for my taste, but that is just a personal opinion. As for the checklist itself, you are looking at a total of 15 cards, falling at 1:56 packs for the base version. The two parallels are Gold, and Gold Spectrum Patch, numbered /25 and /5 respectively.
Team Canada – Manufactured Logo Patches Set
Ok, let’s get one thing straight. I am sick of Upper Deck producing cards with manufactured patches, especially in higher priced products such as Black, or Black Diamond. If collectors are shelling out hundreds of dollars at a time, they should be able to expect authenticity. That being said, there are rare times where these types of cards can be accepted. I would classify this set as one of those times. The set is not so much about offering up crazy patches, but about highlighting some of the logos that Hockey Canada has had over the years. Essentially it is a set based on the history of our national sport.
The checklist offers a variety of players from current young stars such as Haydn Fleury to legends such as Brodeur and Lemieux. By doing this they show the evolution of the game, and of Team Canada itself. The overall odds for the entire range of version is 1:120 packs. Breaking it down we see that the 100 Years variety is 1:25 packs, Vintage is 1:400, Rare Vintage is 1:1000, and Green is 1:5700 packs. In my eyes the only thing that would make these cards better, is if they were hard signed on the memorabilia itself.
Team Canada – Maple Leaf Forever Sets
Now these are some awesome cards. The Maple Leaf Forever collection comprises of 3 separate checklists, and are truly the hit of the product. With 2 very short printed mem series, one for the men, and one , for the women, and a set of men’s team autos, these cards are the reason to buy these hobby boxes.
The first set of Maple Leaf Forever cards is the Men’s Shoulder Patch set. This set contains 41 cards, all numbered /3, which means they will be extremely hard to hit. They get even harder when you consider the fact that the Patch Logo variation is numbered 1/1. Clearly this is a set that you can expect great things from, as well as great value. Among the names included in this particular set, we fin Brett Howden, Mith Marner, and Travis Konecny, among others.
The men’s auto set does not appear to be quite as hard to find as the patches, but are still rare cards, falling at an overall rate of 1:152 packs. This is where the use of sticker autos really sucks, as these cards have great potential, but it would take hard signed versions in order for this potential to be reached.
Reached potential is something that the second set Of Maple Leaf Forever patches has definitely achieved. Essentially the women’s team counter part to the earlier Men’s Shoulder Patches, the Women’s Patch set follows the same scheme as the men’s. The Sleeve Patch version is numbered /3, while the Logo Patch is 1/1. Unlike the men, whose checklist included 41 cards, this list is limited to 8 cards. Comprising of some of the best women ever to play for Team Canada, we see names like Spooner, Wakefield, and Wickenheiser among the women included. My only wish is that more sets like this made tribute to the ladies of the rink.
Team Canada – Material Duos & Material Quads Sets
No product is compete these days without some multi-player memorabilia cards. Upper Deck Team Canada juniors provides with 2 sets. The first, the Material Duos set, had base odds of 1:32 packs, meaning essentially 1 out of every 2 boxes. It also has a Gold Spectrum Patch version that is /5 and a Black Tag version numbered /2. These types of tag cards are always popular sellers. Some of the player combos included in this set are Lawson Crouse/Matthew Barzal, Pascal Laberge/Will Bitten, and Hayley Wickenheiser/Marie-Philip Poulinn.
The second set of multi player mem is the Material Quads set, which falls at a rate of 1:128 packs. Here the Gold Spectrum patches are numbered /3 and the Black Tags are 1/1. I love cards like this because they allow you to have a selection of great players all on one card, and they look great on display. Here the some combinations include Strome/Marner/Crouse/Barzal, as well as Wickenheiser/Poulin/Spooner/Johnston. With a total of 8 cards this is a fun set to chase down.
Team Canada – Program of Excellence Set
Program of Excellence is an extremely popular insert set that has spilled past the bounds of National Team product into the mainstream of Series 1 and Series 2. in this product the cards are much more common than in the S1 and S2 varieties. Falling at a rate of 1:4 packs, fans can expect 4 of these cards to appear in every hobby box. Those wanting a bigger challenge can chase the Rainbow Gold parallel, which falls at a much harder 1:48 packs. The set comprises 60 different names and includes fan faves such as Marner, Barzal, and Bean, as well as legends such as Sakic, Yzerman, and Gretzky. This is a true insert set, and one that should be quite popular.
Team Canada – Retro Set
The final set in the product, the Retro cards flash back to 1993-94 versions and celebrate Team Canada’s Under 20 and Under 18 teams, as well as a short list of Canadian legends. The U20 and U18 cards fall at 1:76 packs, while the legends are a daunting 1:192 pack challenge. Various names that appear across the 36 card checklist include Crouse, Fabbro, and Lemieux. This is a fitting set to close out the product.
Team Canada – Final Thoughts
I love this product, even if the autos are just stickers. There is a wide variety of extremely interesting memorabilia to chose from and the opportunity to snag names from both of Canada’s national hockey teams. I find it highlights out national game, our spirit, and out sense of pride. These are cards that I will proudly open and care for. Well done Upper Deck.
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