I thought I would take a look at just how many cards are out there for the players that were drafted in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft this year. Prospecting is always one of those gray areas of card collecting. You really don't see it too much with Football and Basketball because most of the time, there are very few players that actually get cards that don't have a chance to play. But for Baseball and Hockey, this is a common practice as many card manufacturers focus on rookie cards of prospects and minor league players that may or may not have an opportunity to get playing time.
Now many of these guys that went in the draft may be invisible for a few years since player eligibility is very broad for the draft. According to the NHL rules, all players age 19 or older including any player who will be age 18 on or before September 15 in the year of the draft, or reaches his 19th birthday between September 16 and December 31, is eligible by claiming so prior to the May 1st filing deadline. Did you catch all that? Good, there's a test tomorrow. Essentially, unless these guys are brought on teams in desperate need of assistance or are the second coming of Sid or Alex, they could begin a long career on an AHL team.
So let's take a look at how the card world is populated by the potential future stars of the NHL, starting with the Top 10. (Card count information was pulled from Beckett.com. I, in no way, endorse Beckett for anything other than a pretty thorough checklist)
1. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Drafted by Edmonton) - center from Red Deer
Ryan has approximately 74 cards as of the writing of this post. Of those, 66 are memorabilia cards, almost 2/3 of the entire lot. There are also 27 autographs and 51 of the cards are serial numbered. Only 2 of the 74 are actually what can be considered base cards. As you can guess, ITG has the lionshare of the cards. In fact, I think they have all of them from that list. I'm not sure if Red Deer put out a local release for their team that features Nugent-Hopkins or not. If they did, just add however many you know of to that count. I can't imagine it is very many.
Considering his being drafted by Edmonton, chances are pretty good that you will see him in Upper Deck's Victory, Flagship release, and subsequent other releases, as well as anything Panini may be putting out. I would look for his Victory card (especially if they do the black parallels) to go for a pretty high price out of the box. Same goes for the Young Guns card, although I can't see it getting as much sustained attention as his fellow teammates Eberle, Paajarvi, and Hall unless he comes out firing on all cylinders.
2. Gabriel Landeskog (Drafted by Colorado) - left wing from Kitchener
A whole 2 cards out there for Mr. Landeskog. He has a base card in the 2010-11 Heroes & Prospects set by ITG and also an autograph card. That is it. Again, not sure if the Kitchener Rangers put one of in a team set but I'm guessing there aren't many releases. First cards should show up in Victory followed by the low-end releases by Panini.
3. Jonathan Huberdeau (Drafted by Florida) - center from Saint John
I think Florida got a good player in Huberdeau at the #3 pick. This guy has 14 cards floating around out there with possibly some local releases from Saint John. I think they may have even put out a Subway Series set in Canada that he might be in too. But the official count of 14 includes 12 memorabilia cards including this beauty I have up here, 4 autographs, and 9 of them are serial numbered.
4. Adam Larsson (Drafted by New Jersey) - defenseman from Skelleftea (Sweden)
Larsson plays for Skelleftea in the Swedish league. As you can imagine, there aren't a ton of releases out there for Swedish teams/players. That's a shame though, because that league is jam packed full of talented star potential that could easily make a huge impact in the NHL. Larsson has 14 cards listed online with 12 of them being from Swedish releases. The only 2 that aren't are both from, you guessed it, ITG. He has 2 memorabilia cards with 3 autographs and 3 cards are serial numbered. No, I do not have the card pictured above, although I hope to win it because it looks quite cool.
5. Ryan Strome (Drafted by New York Islanders) - center from Niagara
Not even ITG can claim to have a card of Ryan Strome. When you do a search online, it comes up blank. I did, however find a Niagara Ice Dogs release from this past year. So that would be 0 official cards and 1 team release. The card in question is above. Look for Victory and the Upper Deck base to be the first cards of Ryan, if he gets any playing time.
6. Mika Zibanejad (Drafted by Ottawa) - center from Djurgarden (Sweden)
Maybe someone else will have better luck finding any release for Mika. I couldn't. Not even a Swedish league card to speak of either. Maybe one of you custom card creators out there can create one.
7. Mark Scheifele (Drafted by Winnipeg) - center from Barrie
Winnipeg's first pick in their return to the NHL and they choose a guy with not cards. Isn't that great? I'm pretty positive that Mark has something out there by way of a Barrie Colts release but as of writing this, I haven't found one.
8. Sean Couturier (Drafted by Philadelphia) - center from Drummondville
Sean has quite a few cards out there. Officially, there are 40 cards, all of which come from ITG products. 37 of them are memorabilia cards. There are 13 autographs and 34 serial numbered cards. I did find at least one Drummondville Voltigeurs release with a Couturier card so that would bring the count to 41. By the way, what the heck is a Voltigeur? Some kind of Pirate? Sean will most likely get some playing time with Philly and will probably have at least a Victory card.
9. Dougie Hamilton (Drafted by Boston) - defenseman from Niagara
There is at least one Ice Dogs card on the Bay right now and I'm sure there will be more real soon. Dougie has a total of 9 official cards on the checklist. All of them are memorabilia cards. In The Game put out a tribute insert set in Heroes & Prospects celebrating the Subway Series. Each of the 9 cards are various versions of this card. Hey look, there's one now. These cards are cool because they barely fit in a holder. The double seam makes the card almost twice as thick as normal. Hamilton will definitely have a Young Guns card and a Victory card because Boston always lets their young players get some playing time in the beginning of the season.
10. Jonas Brodin (Drafted by Minnesota) - defenseman from Farjestad (Sweden)
Jonas is another Swedish player with few if any cards. Officially, there aren't any listed on the checklist. I also checked the Bay and found nothing other than a few 8x10 autos. The Swedish Eliteset's don't list him on their checklists, either. Considering Brodin is still under contract with Farjestad, he will probably not suit up for the Wild till at least 2012-13. I don't expect to see a card of Mr. Brodin in any regular release other than ITG, at least in the short term.
I plan to figure out the rest of the first round players cards as well. As a recap, for the Top 10 players there are 156 total cards divided between 7 players. If it weren't for ITG, there would be virtually nothing available for early collector's to get their hands on.