Here are The Pack Gambler's Best in Class for the 2012 Hockey Products;
Best Value / Best Set: 2012-2013 O-Pee-Chee
Being Canadian O-Pee-Chee has been a home name known for years within the sports card industry. When Upper Deck bought them and started producing cards under that brand I was very happy that it was being revitalized within the community. That being said this years product brought a lot to the table. Now being a low end product this was not going to provide you with the spectacular dazzling of autographs and game used cards, but instead made it a fun product to rip for the Canadian Redemption (for us Canadians) as well as trying to complete the set. A 600 card strong set was challenging for some collectors, but also gave them some of that old-time feeling of the older non-glossy cards we know today. The captured a wide spread audience of players from all teams and was very much worth the money to collect.
Best Product / Best Inserts: 2011-2012 Panini Rookie Anthology
As you are well aware I fell in love with Rookie Anthology the first time I opened a box. By far the best product for the price and quality. The Base cards had a very nice and have a crisp design which were followed by Game Used and Autograph cards with the same flavor. The idea behind inserting Rookie cards from previously released sets from 2011 was genius to say the least. This made anyone wanting to complete a set to hunt down these newly released cards. The product was full of rookies from base/inserts to game used and autographed cards. With the inclusion of a Box Topper in each box which was either an Autograph, Autographed Game Used or Game Used card how you not pick up this product to try it out.
Best Autographs: 2012-2013 Panini Classic Signature
At a time when the NHL was on strike what better way to sell a product than to get Legends and Home Town Heroes into a set. And not only a set of these players but on-card autographs too! Classic Signatures came out at the perfect time and gave the collectors a piece of their past with these offerings. Now these were pretty expensive to buy but the upside was that you were guaranteed an On-Card Autograph in each pack. Some of these were Short Printed and even Super Short Printed, but the main thing was they were all on-card. Some even included nicknames which were really cool for those that were entrenched in hockey growing up. The selection of players and the amount of autographs proved to be the best overall Autograph product of 2012.
Best Relic & Game Used: 2011-2012 Panini Prime and 2011-2012 Panini Dominion
It is really hard to go against what Panini brought to the table with Prime and Dominion. Prime started the Game Used memorabilia in September and took it to a whole new level. Of course Panini can't put all the great memorabilia into one product (hence Dominion), but they divided it up and gave us cool Prime Ties 1/1 which by far were the coolest idea for Hockey Used items in a long time. And if that wasn't enough the Prime Colors Patches and Authentics set the bar even higher. Then we had Dominion come in and again bring us something we didn't think could top or match Prime with Booklets of Six, Eight and Twelve player jersey cuts, Jersey Buttons, Tape to Tape Autographs and Silver Engravatures. And these are only the few of the Game Used/Autographed inserts in these products. Of course both dealing with only 1 Pack per Box it was a little nervous on who you might end up with, but with the amount of quality inserts each one was a special hit for any player you manged to pull.
Best Design / Best Rookies: 2012-2013 Upper Deck Artifacts
The design of Artifacts this year brought me to buy into the product. I thought they really provided a smooth design to represent this NHL product to collectors. Along with very nice parallels matching the same design, these cards just plain out look nice to see. Artifacts continues to have a strong following within the NHL brands and this years design will keep them coming back for more. In addition to the great designs, they have also produced some of the more sought after rookies of 2012. Now of course this came out when the NHL was on strike so a lot of us thought we wouldn't be seeing these players anytime soon. But with the history of Artifacts past you had to take the plunge on the Rookies being offered. They ranged from Rookies (all numbered), plus continued with their Rookie Redemption program. The Redemption cards were slated at one per box and still even with the players unknown bring in decent value in the market. Once these Rookies hit the ice this product will be one to look for in the future to obtain these players.