The Stanley Cup playoffs have seen plenty of surprises in 2023 and the play of Dallas Stars forward Roope Hintz has fans cheering and collectors buzzing for his rookie cards after taking the lead in the postseason scoring race with 22 points over a 14-game span.
An offensive outburst like this comes as little surprise to keen observers as Hintz has shown steady growth in terms of point production over his five seasons in the NHL. In 2020-21, he made eyebrows raise by averaging over a point per game. Over the past two campaigns, he has chipped in exactly 37 goals twice and topped the 70-point mark both times.
A quick look at his efforts over the first two rounds of playoff action shows how nicely he has clicked with linemates Jason Robertson and Joe Pavelski. In the opening series against the Minnesota Wild, he had a trio of outings with at least three points, including a hat trick and an assist during Game 2 on April 19.
The next round’s matchup was with the second-year Seattle Kraken and the seven-game affair saw him contribute an equal amount of points. In the Western Conference Final’s opener, he scored once and added two assists in a tough overtime loss to the Vegas Golden Knights.
The Stars added Hintz to the organization by snagging him with the 49th overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft. Before making his big league debut, he remained in Finland for two more seasons with the HIFK club before joining the AHL’s Texas Stars for the 2017-18 campaign. Upper Deck took notice of his strong early efforts and put him in that year’s AHL base set. Luckily for collectors, this was also the first opportunity to obtain certified autograph cards of the promising prospect. Unsurprisingly, it would not be long before they would see him in an NHL jersey.
Lone Star Young Gun
On Oct. 4, 2018, Hintz was part of the opening night roster for Dallas as they faced the Arizona Coyotes. In his sixth outing with the Stars, he scored in a victory over the New York Islanders and within weeks, his Young Guns rookie card from 2018-19 Upper Deck Series One was on store shelves along with Exclusives (#’d to 100) and High Gloss (#’d to 10) parallels that are in very high demand today.
An Acetate version of this card was also a case hit later in the year and a few months later, the product’s release on the company’s ePack platform saw some parallels added to the mix for those choosing to combine the Young Guns they pulled into a Silver or Speckled Rainbow foil card.
Initially, the buzz on his cards was moderate, but savvy prospectors were happy to add them to their collections and their keen sense for talent has paid off since. Over the course of the 2018-19 schedule, he made 58 appearances and chipped in 22 points for the parent club and was added to several Upper Deck releases – but he does not have nearly as many rookie cards as some of his peers.
For those looking for a much more affordable option when it comes to Hintz rookie cards, there are some that will fit the bill. Packs of 2018-19 Upper Deck Series Two did contain update cards for 2018-19 O-Pee-Chee and there were several parallels to be found – including a Retro Black that was limited to 100 copies.
Collectors buying boxes at certain dealers throughout the season were often given Upper Deck Overtime packs as a bonus, and Hintz was part of the second series. This card has Red and Blue parallels along with a Gold autograph. Additionally, the 2018-19 edition of Parkhurst was found at Walmart and on e-Pack, but the latter has exclusive parallels which are not the easiest to find these days. Speaking of e-Pack, Hintz was part of the multi-series Compendium set where physical cards were awarded after combining virtual cards – first for a Blue version and then combining those for a rarer Gold card. Since these were not issued in packs, it can be debated as to whether or not they are true rookie cards, but they are a must-have for Hintz collectors.
A strong middle-of-the-road option for those wanting a limited Hintz rookie card comes from 2018-19 Upper Deck ICE. Printed on acetate stock, it has the great visual appeal that the brand has had for over 25 years and is numbered to 999 since it was part of the fourth tier of Ice Premieres subset.
For The “Heavy Hitzers”
All told, there are nine Roope Hintz cards from 2018-19 that fall under the traditional definition of a rookie card and plenty of parallels of inserts. The remaining four cards all have strong merit and are candidates for growth as he continues to produce offensively for the Stars.
The most limited of Hintz’s rookie cards comes from 2018-19 Upper Deck Synergy. A product which debuted that year, the company decided to limit its base set rookie cards to 19 copies. While these do not pop up frequently, there are parallel versions which can serve as fine placeholders. The Red parallel comes with or without a UD Bounty scratch area for that year’s redemption program while the Blue (#’d to 799), Green (#’d to 299), and Purple (#’d to 24) provide an extra challenge for completists.
With 2018-19 SP Game Used, the trend of extensive parallels of the rookie card continued, but there were some fun twists. The one that is considered as the true rookie card was numbered to 24, which matches the digits on his jersey and a one-of-one autographed version was produced. Like Synergy, the parallels are much easier to find and are numbered to 296 or less depending on the set with the exception of the Blue Autograph cards.
When it comes to the Hintz rookie cards from the 2018-19 editions of SP Authentic and The Cup, it is a toss-up as to which one is more appealing to most collectors. Since SP Authentic’s Future Watch autographed rookie cards have a strong following, there is built-in demand from set collectors and player collectors. The fact that there are 999 out there makes them attainable and the first 50 bear an added inscription.
Where the card from The Cup falls somewhat short comes from the fact that it only has an autograph on it and a big part of that release’s appeal is rooted in Autographed Rookie Patch cards instead. This is not to say it’s unappealing by any means, but had there been an ARP instead – that card would have been the best of this bunch. There were some additional parallel versions that were quite limited and tins also saw one-of-one printing plates for many of his 2018-19 cards surface.
The build on demand for Roope Hintz’s rookie cards has been steadily growing over the past two seasons, but a hot playoff performance thus far has them hitting new highs. Naturally, a Stanley Cup victory would push them to greater heights and a Conn Smythe Trophy nod could foster even greater demand. While the Stars do have a major obstacle in the form of the Golden Knights, there are also other Stars players that could take postseason MVP honors like Robertson, Miro Heiskanen, or Jake Oettinger. As part of an impressive core of young talent that has already been to the Stanley Cup Final, they are ready to prove something to hockey fans and collectors alike.