Saturday, November 29, 2008

Review: NHL Upper Deck Series I

When it comes right down to it, what hasn't been said or written about the NHL Upper Deck Series I product? It contains the season's first must-have rookie cards -- Young Guns. The photography shows top-shelf images. The design is, most often, crisp and clear. And you seldom get cheated on memorabilia cards, like these colorful swatches from Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk and Philadelphia's Mike Richards.

That's why I usually buy a couple boxes each season. Not only can I easily put together the base set, but I also get a pretty nice clutch of cards to use as hounding stock. Yes, they may take some prep work, but there nearly an automatic inclusion to any team's hounding book.

My only complaint, and it's a constant one as well, is that Upper Deck continues to release products showing players in outdated uniforms. Even though I found only two this release, it's hard to believe that Upper Deck can't update these images, even for a player like Montreal's Robert Lang, who signed with the Canadiens on Sept. 12.

Today's technology -- from photography to printing to distribution -- allows ample time for updates, even the opening day of training camp.

Enough complaining, okay? This Clearcuts Duos, numbered 04/25, of Montreal's Carey Price and Saku Koivu proved to the best short-print out of the three boxes.

I found it a bit ironic that the first short-print, numbered 050/100, was an UD Exclusives of Tampa Bay's Jussi Jokinen.

Of the 200 cards in the base set, and the resulting hard-to-find short prints that bedevil collectors, I get one for a player right here in Hockey Bay.

As an aside, he's one of the better-signing Bolts, not that I'd have him sign this one.

As usual, there were plenty of insert subsets, including one of my all-time favorites, the Winter Classic 2008 series. Others shown, from left, Captains Calling, Joe Sakic; Hat Trick Heroes, Eric Staal; Sophomore Sensations, Sam Gagner; and Winter Classic, Evgeni Malkin.

Puckhound's snapshot

Product: 2008-09 NHL Upper Deck Series I
Vital stats: 200-card base set with UD Exclusive (# to 100) and HG UD Exclusive (3 to 50) parallels. Hobby boxes average two game-used memorabilia cards, six Young Guns rookies and a wide assortment of insert subsets, including another Winter Classic 2008 offering.
Something good: Crisp action photography, decent quality in Young Guns and a sweet short-printed insert featuring Montreal's Carey Price.
Something bad: Old habits die hard. Though the numbers are down, cards still show some free-agent signings with last year's teams.
Puckhound's score: 2.5 of 5 pucks

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