Current NHL Stars: Their Most Valuable Hockey Trading Cards

The most valuable hockey trading cards for current NHL players

Hockey trading cards are a cherished part of the sports memorabilia market. These cards capture the hearts of fans and collectors alike. They serve as a tangible connection to the game and its players. Additionally, they are valuable investments that can appreciate over time. Collecting sports memorabilia has evolved from a simple hobby into a significant market. Rare and high-quality items fetch impressive sums at auctions and private sales. Therefore, for hockey fans, trading cards are a way to celebrate their favorite players and preserve the sport’s history.

How To Determine Card Value

Several factors determine the value of hockey trading cards, including condition, rarity, and the player. Condition is the most crucial. Organizations like PSA (Professional Sports Authenticator) and Beckett grade cards on a scale from 1 to 10. These grades reflect the card’s state, including centering, edges, corners, and surface. Higher grades indicate better condition and significantly boost a card’s value. The disparity in value of the same card can be jarring. Condition can often be the difference between a card worth thousands of dollars and one that is worthless.

Obtaining a perfect 10 rating on the grading scale is extremely rare and highly coveted among collectors. Even cards pulled fresh from a pack often fall short of this pristine grade. Subtle flaws can prevent a card from achieving a Gem Mint 10 rating. Consequently, cards that do attain this perfect score are considered exceptional and command a significant premium in the market.

Rarity also plays a significant role. Cards with limited print runs or unique features are highly sought after. Additionally, the player’s performance and legacy greatly influence the card’s value. Legendary players or breakout stars typically have higher-valued cards.

Recent Boom in Market for Hockey Trading Cards

Interestingly, hockey card prices spiked early in the COVID-19 pandemic. This surge may have been driven by several factors. With live sports on hiatus, fans turned to collecting as a way to stay connected to their favourite teams and players. Additionally, with fewer opportunities to spend money on travel, dining out, and other entertainment, some people had extra disposable income.

The financial uncertainty caused by the pandemic also led some to seek alternative investment opportunities. High-value sports cards were seen as a potential hedge against economic instability, driving up demand and prices. Furthermore, some hypothesize that global inflation spikes around the world didn’t just affect commodity prices but also the value of hockey trading cards. Around the peak of inflation in 2022, the hockey card index reached a high according to Card Ladder.

Overall, the Index has grown 511.97% in the 20-year period ended June 30, 2024, compared to 620.68% for the S&P 500 Index over the same period. Lastly, record-breaking sales of high-profile cards, such as the $3.75 million sale of a Wayne Gretzky rookie card in 2021, garnered significant media attention. Consequently, these headline-making sales drew new collectors and investors to the market.

What Are The Most Valuable Hockey Trading Cards?

Below, we reveal the most valuable hockey trading cards of current NHL stars, ordered from least expensive to most expensive based on their selling prices. The selling prices listed below are not necessarily indicative of the current value of these cards. Various factors can affect the current value, including player performance since the sale date and the overall state of the sports memorabilia market.

Leon Draisaitl 2014 Upper Deck Young Guns Rookie Card High Gloss #223

Leon Draisaitl
2014 Upper Deck Young Guns Rookie Card High Gloss #223

Sold Date: 2024-04-25
Price: $16,182.77
Rarity: 4 of 10
Grade: BGS 9.5

Leon Draisaitl has become one of the NHL’s most dominant forwards. Known for his scoring and playmaking abilities, his Young Guns rookie card is highly coveted. The high gloss version is especially valuable, limited to just 10 copies.

Steven Stamkos 2008-09 Upper Deck The Cup Rookie Card Patch Autographs #150

Steven Stamkos
2008-09 Upper Deck The Cup Rookie Card Patch Autographs #150

Sold Date: 2021-07-12
Price: $17,501.00
Rarity: 28 of 99
Grade: BGS 8.5 NM-MT+

Steven Stamkos has had a stellar career. He led the Tampa Bay Lightning to multiple Stanley Cup victories. His rookie patch autograph card from The Cup is a key collectible, reflecting his impact on the game. Recently, Stamkos’ time with Tampa Bay ended as he signed with the Nashville Predators. This move marked a new chapter in his illustrious career. As a result, his early cards became even more significant for collectors who followed his journey with the Lightning.

Cale Makar 2019-20 Upper Deck Exquisite Collection Rookie Card Patch Autographs

Cale Makar
2019-20 Upper Deck Exquisite Collection Rookie Card Patch Autographs

Sold Date: 2022-04-30
Price: $22,800.00
Rarity: 1 of 1
Grade: BGS NEAR MINT+ 7.5/BGS 9

Cale Makar has quickly risen to become one of the top defensemen in the NHL. One of the best skaters today, Makar regularly gives fans some of the slickest ankle-breaking highlights in the NHL. This one-of-a-kind card features his autograph and a game-used patch of the NHL logo. It is an extremely rare patch desired by avid collectors of hockey trading cards.

Nathan MacKinnon 2013-14 Upper Deck The Cup Rookie Card Patch Autographs #187

Nathan MacKinnon
2013-14 Upper Deck The Cup Rookie Card Patch Autographs #187

Sold Date: 2022-06-05
Price: $26,400.00
Rarity: 84 of 99
Grade: PSA NM-MT 8, PSA/DNA 10 – Pop 1

Nathan MacKinnon has established himself as one of the premier players in the NHL. His dynamic play and leadership helped the Colorado Avalanche secure the Stanley Cup in 2022. Therefore, the rarity of his rookie cards and his ongoing success contribute to the high value of this card.

Connor Bedard 2023-24 Upper Deck Young Guns High Gloss Rookie Card #451

Connor Bedard
2023-24 Upper Deck Young Guns High Gloss Rookie Card #451

Sold Date: 2024-04-28
Price: $27,000.00
Rarity: 1 of 10
Grade: PSA 8.5

The 2023-24 NHL cards were particularly hot sellers. Fans eagerly tried to get their hands on Connor Bedard rookie cards. Bedard, a highly anticipated young talent, generated immense excitement in the hobby. This drove up demand for packs and boxes containing his coveted rookie cards. This frenzy mirrored the interest seen in previous years with other superstar rookies. It further showcased the strong market for NHL trading cards. Despite only having one season in the league, Bedard already has one of the most expensive hockey cards sold amongst the best players today. His Young Guns High Gloss rookie card is incredibly rare and in demand. It marks the beginning of what promises to be a spectacular career.

Krill Kaprizov 2020-21 SkyBox Metal Universe Precious Metal Gems (PMG) Gold Rookie Card #R44

Kirill Kaprizov
2020-21 SkyBox Metal Universe Precious Metal Gems (PMG) Gold Rookie Card #R44

Sold Date: 2022-04-10
Price: $28,800.00
Rarity: 1 of 1
Grade: BGS NM+ 7.5

Kirill Kaprizov, known for his exceptional skill and scoring ability, has quickly become a fan favorite. It may come as a surprise to some that Kaprizov has one of the most expensive cards on this list. But, a one-of-a-kind rookie card for one of most elite young talents in the NHL will do that. Kaprizov has 133 goals over his last 223 NHL games, spanning over the last three seasons. This is fifth in the NHL behind Auston Matthews, David Pastrnak, Leon Draisaitl, and Connor McDavid.

This Gold PMG card is extremely rare, with only one in existence, making it a prized possession for any collector. Gold PMG cards are considered the rarest and most valuable in the PMG series. Since there is only one Gold PMG card produced for each player in a given set (1/1), it is unique and highly sought after by collectors. This extreme rarity contributes to their high value in the sports card market. Their unique status and one-of-a-kind nature often lead to competitive bidding and high sale prices, thus enhancing their appeal and investment potential.

Auston Matthews 2016-17 Upper Deck The Cup Gold Rookie Card Patch Autographs #180

Auston Matthews
2016-17 Upper Deck The Cup Gold Rookie Card Patch Autographs #180

Sold Date: 2022-04-30
Price: $55,200.00
Rarity: 2 of 12
Grade: BGS GEM MINT 9.5/BGS 9

Auston Matthews had one of the most memorable rookie seasons in NHL history. Nobody can forget his debut game, where he scored an astonishing four goals. His rookie card from Upper Deck The Cup is highly valued. It reflects this incredible start to his career.

Additionally, Matthews’ 69-goal season last year only adds to his legacy and the long-term potential appreciation of his cards. His contributions to the Toronto Maple Leafs have made his cards particularly valuable. The gold variation of his rookie card, combined with his consistent performance, drives its value.

Sidney Crosby 2020-21 Skybox Metal Universe Precious Metal Gems (PMG) Gold #87

Sidney Crosby
2020-21 Skybox Metal Universe Precious Metal Gems (PMG) Gold #87

Sold Date: 2022-03-13
Price: $164,400.00
Rarity: 1 of 1
Grade: PSA NM-MT 8

Sidney Crosby is considered one of the greatest players of his generation. His impact on the game and numerous accolades make his cards highly desirable. It is surprising that Crosby’s most expensive card sold is not a rookie card, jersey card, or signature card, but rather a card from 2020. This PMG Gold card, being a one-of-a-kind item, significantly boosts its value, highlighting the rarity mentioned earlier.

Alexander Ovechkin 2005-06 Upper Deck The Cup Rookie Card Patch Autographs (RPA) #179

Alexander Ovechkin
2005-06 Upper Deck The Cup Rookie Card Patch Autographs (RPA) #179

Sold Date: 2023-06-14
Price: $182,400.00
Rarity: 55 of 99
Grade: PSA Gem Mint 10 – Pop 1

Alexander Ovechkin’s legacy as one of the greatest goal scorers in NHL history is well-established. His rookie patch autograph card from Upper Deck The Cup series is a prized collectible, reflecting his remarkable career and achievements.

The difference between jersey cards and patch cards lies in the type of material used. Jersey cards feature a swatch from the player’s jersey. In contrast, patch cards include more intricate and visually appealing pieces, often from logos, numbers, or unique parts of the jersey. This distinction often makes patch cards more valuable and sought after by collectors. While there were 99 of these cards made, there is only 1 graded as PSA Gem Mint 10 as indicated by the Pop.

Connor McDavid 2015 Upper Deck The Cup Rookie Card Patch Autographs #197

Connor McDavid
2015 Upper Deck The Cup Rookie Card Patch Autographs #197

Sold Date: 2022-07-23
Price: $228,000.00
Rarity: 38 of 99
Grade: PSA Gem Mint 10 – Pop 3

It should come as no surprise that the most expensive card on this list belongs to Connor McDavid. If this top ten countdown consisted of the most expensive sales of hockey trading cards for current players, Connor McDavid and this special rookie card would almost be the entire list. The 38th card in this collection of 99 was the most expensive sale to date, selling for $228,000 in 2022. McDavid has had over 13 cards sell for over $100,000. This card is the pinnacle for collectors. His unparalleled talent and consistent top-tier performance make this card extremely valuable.

While there were 99 of these cards made, only three exist in PSA Gem Mint 10 condition. Similar to his dominance on the ice which was on full display during the 2024 Stanley Cup Finals, McDavid dominates the hockey trading cards market as well.


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