Welcome back to the semi-recurring series where we talk about hockey cards. There isn’t much going on in the world of the Tampa Bay Lightning right now (although it is my understanding that teams are still playing games at the NHL level) so a decent way to pass the time is to bust open some packs of hockey cards, right?
Today’s feature is Upper Deck’s 2021-22 SP Hockey set. While it references a season that ended more than a year ago, it hit the shelves in the middle of April. Upper Deck is still dealing with their product backlog after supply chain issues pushed back a bunch of release dates, a problem that we probably won’t see resolved for another year or so.
What is SP? Well, it’s a retail-only, stripped-down version of their SP Authentic product. The checklists are basically the same, to the point where the first 100 cards (basically the veterans) are numbered the same. The design is the same. SP Authentic has way more inserts and variations, but if you’re flipping through a dime box looking for base cards, you will get confused unless you are paying attention.
By “retail-only” we mean that these cards are available in retail locations such as Wal-Mart, Target, and, in my case, Barnes&Noble. You won’t be able to buy a hobby box of these at your local card store (although they may stock blaster boxes) or online. The blaster box (8 packs per box, 5 cards per pack) and hanger packs (3 packs per hanger, 5 cards per pack) are your two options for buying them.
When I say stripped down, I mean it. There is really only one insert to chase in this set, and that’s the Authentic Profiles inserts. It’s a 20-card set that is serial-numbered out of 1,199. You’re more likely to pull a colored parallel with the blue parallel coming one in every five packs. There are various other colors and patterns that come at increasingly more difficult ratios.
As for the 140-card checklist it is broken down into 100 veterans and young players and then 40 rookies numbered to 1,199. Since this is a 2021-22 set the big rookie chases are Trevor Zegras, Moritz Seider, Cole Caufield, Quinton Byefield, and Lucas Raymond. Much like the Authentic Profiles inserts, you’re more likely to get a color parallel than an actual numbered base rookie (the blue parallels come every 2.5 packs).
There are also autographed and jersey relics of the rookies that aren’t astronomically hard to pull. The rookie jersey cards come 1:40 packs. The signatures are a bit harder to pull at 1:480 packs and only feature 33 of the 40 rookies.
Both SP and SP Authentic are known for their simple designs on the front of the card that feature a lot of white space that makes for a crisp-looking card. The backs have some basic bio information and a few lines of stats.
Traditionally, the value of these cards isn’t extremely high. If you’re looking for a more cost effective rookie card for your favorite players this isn’t a bad option as the SP rookie cards lag well behind their Young Guns and SP Authentic Future Watch rookie pricing.
So, as a Lightning fan who can you expect to pull out of a pack? In the base set (cards 1-100) Brayden Point, Andrei Vasilevskiy, Nikita Kucherov, and Victor Hedman are included. They also have a blue parallel that comes every other pack on average. There are two rookies (cards 101-140) in the set as Taylor Raddysh and Alex Barré-Boulet make their debut. Raddysh and BB also have autographed and relic versions in the set as well.
Anthony Cirelli makes an appearance in the Authentic Profiles insert set, but does not have an autograph or relic version of the card. Vasilevskiy is the only Lightning player from the base set that has an autograph.
The full checklist including all of the parallel options can be found on TCDB.com.
Should you spend a lot of money on packs chasing the Lightning cards in the set? In my opinion, no, not really. It would be way more cost effective just to go to a site like SportLots and pick them up individually (the veteran base cards would likely cost you $0.20 each while Raddysh and Barré-Boulet will be a few bucks each). For the price of a blaster you could probably pick up all of the base cards and a good chunk of the parallels.
If you’re bored and looking for some cards to open, it’s not a bad rip if nothing else is available.
With the white background and matte finish, these cards do make a nice option for in-person autographs, so if you’re someone who sends cards through the mail looking for signatures or hangs out after games looking for players, these do make a nice option.