Exactly when we’ll see him on the ice in an NHL game or see his first licensed, pack-pulled official rookie cards is anyone’s guess. The delayed finish to the 2019-20 season and the issues with the continuing spread of COVID-19 have next season in a giant cloud of uncertainty, but when he does arrive, Alexis Lafrenière will likely have a big impact on the current market for hockey cards.
Selected by the New York Rangers with the first pick in Tuesday night’s NHL Draft, the Quebec native won’t turn 19 until next week, but he’s expected to make an impact fairly soon. While there’s pressure playing in the league’s biggest media market, the attention should also increase interest in Upper Deck’s products. The company has already launched a #CollectAlexis campaign.
“Everyone knows the hockey card business is doing well in Canada, but any time we get exposure south of the border, it’s the perfect match,” Paul Zickler, Brand Manager at Upper Deck told TheHockeyWriters.com.
“There are only a few instances over the past 15 years, where high-scoring Canadian forwards who are drafted as number one overall picks play for American teams: you have Sidney Crosby in Pittsburgh, Steven Stamkos in Tampa, Nathan MacKinnon in Colorado, John Tavares and the New York Islanders. It transcends the entire trading card market when an A-list prospect joins a storied franchise like that.”
Upper Deck signed Lafrenière to an exclusive endorsement/autograph deal this summer–their youngest signee ever– and he’ll be a huge focus inside the company’s upcoming products. Upper Deck’s multi-year agreement grants them exclusive rights to produce trading cards and memorabilia with authentic Lafrenière autographs. Look for a different style signature on the memorabilia items than you’ll see on trading cards.
Upper Deck is offering free 2020 Top Prospects packs on its e-Pack platform, featuring Lafrenière, Quinton Byfield and other top prospects. The promotion is good through Saturday, October 17.
Normally, the 2020-21 season would be just about to start. As is, next season’s official NHL rookie cards won’t likely arrive until the snow flies.
“It’s very difficult,” Zickler told the website. “Typically our licensing rights with the Players’ Association kicks in when the players skate in their rookie year. So our calendar has had to be reracked and rescheduled several times based on when the season is hypothetically gonna land. And there’s been some rumblings about December or January, so we’re kind of positioning for that timing. The release calendars across the board in all sports have had to be juggled, and we’re no different.”
Upper Deck does still plan to have Series 1 of its 2020-21 flagship set ready to release in early November.
Lafrenière cards and autographs have from Upper Deck products including CHL, Goodwin Champions and Team Canada are big sellers on eBay. The company’s World Juniors set will bring more autographs and autographed memorabilia cards to market when it releases on Wednesday, just a day after the draft.