2014-15 NHL Rookie Watch: Halfway report

Back in October we ranked NHL players with rookie cards in 2014-15 hockey sets by how much of an impact they would have on the sport this season. Now that the regular season has reached its halfway point we thought we would revisit those rankings.

Our preseason number one, Teuvo Teravainen, hasn’t lived up to potential so far. He made his regular season debut for Chicago Blackhawks on January 4 and has zero points in four games played so far and 23 points in 33 AHL games. We did mention it might be hard for Teravainen to crack the talent-filled Blackhawks lineup this season.

Evgeny Kuznetsov of the Washington Capitals was number two on our list and he’s found a permanent home on the Caps roster. He currently ranks 12th in rookie scoring with 15 points in 40 games.

Both of these players were touted in the promotion of the first hockey sets of the season, but their popularity has recently cooled off in the secondary market.

Jonathan Drouin of the Tampa Bay Lightning, ranked third in our preseason post, is on the rise. Drouin ranks sixth in rookie scoring with 18 points in 34 games and he is currently riding a four-game point streak.  The Lightning are one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference which means Drouin might be going on a long playoff run this spring. Currently his cards are trending higher than Kuznetsov and Teravainen.

Our number four ranked rookie during the preseason, Johnny Gaudreau, might be this year’s Nathan MacKinnon. “Johnny Hockey” is second in rookie scoring and is one of first rookies to have cards reselling above $300. He registered his first career hat trick for the Calgary Flames on December 22 against the L.A. Kings. Gaudreau will be very popular in the next wave of hockey products to come out.

Fifth-ranked Griffin Reinhart is not panning out as planned for the New York Islanders. He’s only appeared in eight games so far and is currently playing in the AHL. Part of the reason for that is the Islanders acquiring Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk right before the season began, which pushed Reinhart down the depth chart. The Isles are also having one of their better seasons in recent history and will look to make the playoffs during the second half of the season. This means more conditioning in the AHL for Reinhart while veteran players lead the postseason push.

The leading candidate for the Calder Trophy this season, Filip Forsberg of the Nashville Predators, had his rookie cards in last year’s sets. That has led to his RCs gaining in value during the first half of the 2014-15 season. Forsberg Rookie Patch Autos from 2013-14 Upper Deck The Cup Hockey are pushing into the $500-600 range in the secondary market. When you combine him with the MacKinnon, Galchenyuk and Yakupov rookies from that set, it makes last year’s release of Cup Hockey one of the biggest hockey products of the last ten years.

As for players with rookies in this year’s products, Aaron Ekblad tops the list of players not already mentioned in this piece. Ekblad was drafted number one overall by the Florida Panthers and he has become a constant presence on their blueline this season. He ranks third in rookie scoring with 24 points in 40 games. His cards are reselling at a similar rate as Gaudreau’s. Ekblad will take part in next weekend’s NHL All-Star Game in Columbus.

Jiri Sekac of the Montreal Canadiens is also gaining in popularity with collectors, especially those in Montreal. His more rarer rookie cards that have been released so far can resell above $50.

Curtis Lazar of the Ottawa Senators gained a big boost after leading Canada to the gold medal at the World Junior Hockey Championships as the team’s captain. It was Canada’s first gold in five years.

At 27 years of age Jori Lehtera is considered too old by the NHL to be called a rookie but he is having a tremendous first year with the St. Louis Blues. Lehtera was drafted by St. Louis back in 2008, but didn’t make his debut with the club until this season. The NHL considers a player a rookie if they are 25 or younger when the season begins (He turned 27 on December 27). He ranks fifth on the Blues in scoring with 28 points in 41 games (that would put him third in rookie scoring). Regardless of what the NHL thinks Lehtera’s ROOKIE cards are available in 2014-15 products and they are just below Gaudreau and Ekblad in terms of popularity.

With Upper Deck holding the exclusive NHL rights this season there aren’t as many rookie cards available as in years past. The most popular with collectors are, of course, the Upper Deck Young Guns from Series 1 Hockey. The rarer High Gloss (#’d to 10) and UD Exclusive (#’d to 100) versions fetch the highest prices. Black Diamond Rookie Gems are currently the second most popular.

The release of 2014-15 Upper Deck SP Game Used Hockey this week will unleash the next wave of rookie cards, including rookie patch autos, from these players.

 

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