If you're like me, then you collected NHL trading cards as a kid. I remember begging my father to buy me packs of hockey cards in the winter and baseball cards in the summer. I was obsessed with reading player stats and origin stories. I knew this information wasn't important, it's not like I was going to grow up to be Pierre Maguire. Still, I loved the images on the cards and the info on the back.
If you're still like me then maybe you still collect NHL trading cards. Card collecting was revitalized as a hobby over the past ten years with the introduction of memorabilia in cards. Upper Deck's annual Ultimate Hockey set is at the ultra-high-end of this practice, providing so much in the way of acquired material from the season that it doesn't come out until August, a good two months after the Stanley Cup has been presented and only a couple weeks before the first sets of the 2012-13 season will hit the market.
So how do the Devils stack up in this year's ultimate memorabilia card collecting extravaganza? Quite well actually. Normally when a set is full of memorabilia and collectible chase cards, the prominent Devil featured has been Martin Brodeur. The legendary net-minder features prominently this year appearing on five different cards. However, this year Marty shares the limelight with rookie sensation Adam Henrique who also features on five cards as well, including the Rookie Duo card he shares with Adam Larsson. Also appearing in this set are Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise. The Devils have a total of twenty cards in this years' Ultimate Hockey collection, a step up from sixteen last season (including your Nick Palmieri rookie card).
Although it is an expensive set to collect, there are definitely some cards worth acquiring for collectors who have the budget to spend. If you want to stay away from the four cards that feature Zach Parise, that's entirely understandable. The highlights for me are the Henrique/Larsson duo card (shown above), the Henrique Ultimate Signatures Card (Wearing his Team Canada Jersey), a Triple Jersey Team Canada card featuring Brodeur, Luongo and Fleury, and even the duo card featuring Kovalchuk and Parise. If your money is burning an exceptional hole in your pocket (as my father referred to it) then you can look for the elusive one-of variant cards which include a Henrique Autograph, a Larsson Autograph and a Brodeur Autograph with a piece of the NHL Shield from his jersey (the one in the collar of the neck of the jersey). Those will be incredibly hard to track down, so best of luck.
On a final note, I want to bring up the level of respect that Upper Deck gave our rookies this season. The rookie cards in this set come in two rarities, normal and SP. Last season, our rookie representation was Mattias Tedenby, Jacob Josefson, Nick Palmieri and Alex Urbom. All four only had cards at normal rarity. This season, both Henrique and Larsson got the full SP treatment and it was certainly well earned. Hopefully both players continue to feature prominently in this group of elite players for years to come.
I normally don't review trading card sets, but because as a team we finally had players featured prominently outside of Martin Brodeur I thought it was worth treating you all to some pretty pictures. The first sets of the 2012-13 season will be releasing shortly and if people want to hear about the Devils in those sets I'd be happy to oblige. Just let me know in the comments. Since those sets are much cheaper to acquire I can provide nice images not taken from EBay auctions.
The full checklist of Devils in the 2011-12 Upper Deck Ultimate Collection:
- #36 - Martin Brodeur
- #37 - Zach Parise
- #38 - Ilya Kovalchuk
- #136 - Adam Henrique
- #137 - Adam Larsson
- PS-IK - Ilya Kovalchuk Memorabilia
- PS-ZP - Zach Parise Memorabilia
- US-AH - Adam Henrique Signed
- USL-MB - Martin Brodeur Signed Memorabilia (NHL Logo)
- UJ-IK - Ilya Kovalchuk Memorabilia
- UJ-MB - Martin Brodeur Memorabilia
- UJ-ZP - Zach Parise Memorabilia
- UDJ-BF - Martin Brodeur/Marc-Andre Fleury Memorabilia (Team Canada)
- UDJ-KP - Ilya Kovalchuk/Zach Parise Memorabilia
- U3-QGFGOLD - Roberto Luongo/Martin Brodeur/Marc-Andre Fleury Memorabilia (Team Canada)
- URJ-AH - Adam Henrique Memorabilia
- URJ-AL - Adam Larsson Memorabilia
- URJ2-HL - Adam Henrique/Adam Larsson Memorabilia (Shown Above)
- TD-AH - Adam Henrique Memorabilia
- TD-AL - Adam Larsson Memorabilia