Since the last mail post I've acquired 40 new NHL autographs, putting the grand total of unique player signatures to 4,783 for 65.7% of everyone who has every played in the NHL since its creation in 1917.
This particular box of autographs took forever to get to me. For some reason the border held it for close to two months yet it doesn't appear to have been opened or tampered with. God knows where or why it was stuck for so long.
I get to check off some long overdue names from my want list such as Esposito, Gartner and Hasek. The last big names I need are Brett Hull, Jagr, Messier, Neely, Patrick Roy, Shanahan, Toews, Kane and Yzerman. After that handful of players I'll have an autograph of every modern day "star" or notable player. My attention is increasingly being focused towards TTM requests and finding obscure players, specifically from the 70s and 80s.
Phil Esposito is one of hockey's biggest legends. The Hockey Hall of Famer has a trophy case that includes 2 Stanley Cup championships, 5 Art Ross Trophies, 2 Hart Trophies and 2 Lester B. Pearson Trophies. He was also instrumental in Canada's 1972 Summit Series victory over the USSR. In 1282 regular season NHL games Esposito scored an astonishing 717 goals and 1590 points. Esposito has managed to keep an incredibly consistent and beautiful signature over his entire storied career. Although he has a number of signatures on the market, they rarely sell for less that $20, which speaks to Esposito's tremendous popularity among fans.
From 1979 to 1998 Mike Gartner played 1432 regular season games in the NHL and scored an impressive 708 goals and 1335 points. Gartner was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2001. RANT: I'm not a fan of Upper Deck and the text on the back of this card is a prime reason why I've always stayed away from "game used" jersey cards. The back reads, "the memorabilia has been certified to us as having been used in an official hockey game." Therefore, I've little idea if it was worn in an NHL game, an old-timers game, a scrimmage or a rec game? We have the technology to be quite a bit more precise, Ideally I'd like to see the date from when the jersey was worn. At the very least knowing if its an NHL jersey would be nice. Its clear to me that by being so vague Upper Deck is attempting to deceive its customers.
Wayne Cashman played over 1000 games in the NHL, all with the Boston Bruins. He helped Boston win the Stanley Cup in 1970 and 1972. In 1972 he also helped Canada win the Summit Series. From 1977 to 1983 Cashman was captain of the Bruins. Cashman is also notable for being the last NHL player from the Original Six era.
From 1974 to 1988 Rick Middleton scored 448 goals and 988 points in 1005 career regular season games in the NHL. For half a dozen years he was one of the most prolific goal scorers in the NHL and in 1981/82 broke the 50 goal mark when he ended the season with 51 tallies. That season also saw the three time NHL All-Star bring home the Lady Byng Trophy. In 1984 he was a member of the Canadian team, playing on Wayne Gretzky's line, that won the Canada Cup.
Rod Gilbert was a star player for the New York Rangers in the 1960s and 1970s. He scored over 1000 points for the Rangers and in 1982 was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. The 10 time NHL All-Star has his #7 hanging from the rafters in Madison Square Garden. He's also notable for being on Team Canada's 1972 Summit Series team.
Swedish defenceman Borje Salming was inducted in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1996. From 1973 to 1990 he played over 1100 games in the NHL, all but one season in Toronto and the last in Detroit. He was one of the first Europeans to star in the NHL.
There's no question that Dominik Hasek is one of the best goalies ever to play the game. He's a two time Hart Trophy winner, two time Stanley Cup champion, six time Vezina Trophy winner and in 1998 he lead Czech Replublic to an Olympic Gold. In 2014 he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
This is my favourite autograph of the post. Even though I'm the farthest thing from a Habs fan, PK Subban is still my favourite current NHLer. I admire his off ice contributions to society. Subban also doesn't sign much for the card companies so there are relatively few of his signature on the market compared to similar players. Subban won the Norris Trophy in 2013 as the NHL's best defenceman and in 2014 he won an Olympic Gold with Canada.
Finnish forward Hannes Hyvonen played 6 NHL games with the 2001/02 San Jose Sharks and another 36 NHL games with the 2002/03 Columbus Blues Jackets. He was originally drafted by the Sharks in 1999 and spent most of his career in Europe. The 40 year old still plays pro hockey in Sweden.
Since 2008 Wayne Simmonds has played well over 500 games in the NHL, dressing for the LA Kings and Philadelphia Flyers. He's scored 25+ goals three times in his NHL career and in 2013 represented Canada at the World Championships.
Gustav Nyquist took an unusual route to the NHL for a Swedish forward. After being drafted by the Red Wings in 2008 he went on to play three season in the NCAA with the University of Maine. He made his NHL debut in 2011 and has played well over 200 games with Detroit. He's become a solid NHL scorer, netting 72 goals and 140 points with Detroit. Nyquist won a Silver medal at the 2014 Olympics with Sweden.
Patrice Bergeron is a member of the 'Triple Gold' club, having won the Olympics, World Championships and the Stanley Cup. He won the Worlds in 2004, Olympics in 2010 and 2014 with Canada and in 2011 he won the Stanley Cup with the Boston Bruins. Bergeron is an NHL All-Star who has also won the Selke Trophy three times as the NHL's best defensive forward.
Dougie Hamilton was drafted 9th overall by the Boston Bruins in 2011. The offensive defenceman was recently traded to the Calgary Flames. He's already recorded 100 points in the NHL, playing over 200 games between Calgary and Boston. His brother, Freddie, has also played in the NHL.
Since 2009 Mike McKenna has played 22 games in the NHL. The journeyman goalie has played for the Tampa Bay Lightning, New Jersey Devils, Columbus Blue Jackets and Arizona Coyotes.
John Gibson was drafted 39th overall by the Anaheim Ducks in 2011. In 2013 Gibson, still playing junior, lead Team USA to a Wold Junior Championship Gold medal. He was named the tournament's MVP and best goalie. A few months later he represented USA at the World Championships, winning a bronze medal at the pro level. He's entering his second season in the NHL and was recently named to the 2015/16 NHL All-Star team.
From 2013 to 2016 Antti Raanta has played 50 NHL games between the Chicago Blackhawks and New York Rangers. He was a member of the 2014/15 Hawks but didn't qualify to have his name engraved on the Stanley Cup because Scott Darling had taken his job come playoffs. Chicago, however, did present Raanta with a Cup ring and his day with the Trophy.
The Buffalo Sabres drafted Zemgus Girgensons 14th overall in 2012. The Latvian forward represented his country at the 2014 Winter Olympics. He's already nearing 200 career NHL games and represented the Buffalo Sabres at the 2015 NHL All-Star game.
Swedish forward William Karlsson was drafted in the second round of the 2011 NHL draft by the Anaheim Ducks. He made his NHL debut with the Ducks in 2014 but in 2015 he was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Karlsson has become a regular on the Jackets' roster.
Stuart Percy was a first round pick, 25th overall, by the Maple Leafs in 2011. The defenceman played 9 games for the 2014/15 Leafs, recording 3 assists.
What an awful signature! Martin Marincin is a Slovakian defenceman who was drafted 46th overall by the Edmonton Oilers in 2010. Since 2013 he's played well over 100 NHL games between the Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs. He participated in the 2014 Winter Olympics with Slovakia.
Center Ryan Strome was drafted 5th overall by the New York Islanders in 2011. He's since played over 150 games with the Islanders, scoring 29 goals and 85 points. His younger brother, Dylan, was drafted even higher, 3rd overall in 2015.
Undrafted forward Patrick Brown spent four seasons playing NCAA hockey for Boston College, he also wore the captain's C in his senior year. Brown was held pointless in 7 NHL games with the 2014/15 Carolina Hurricanes. His father, Doug Brown, was a long time NHLer.
Finnish forward Joonas Nattinen was drafted 65th overall by the Canadiens in 2009. He spent three seasons in North America and played just one NHL game in 2014. He's since moved back to Europe.
The Capitals drafted Russian forward Evgeny Kuznetsov in the first round of the 2010 NHL draft. They let him stay in the KHL until 2014. Kuznetsov has developed into an offensive force in the NHL and this season has 44 points in 45 games.
The Sharks drafted Swiss forward Mirco Mueller 18th overall in 2010. Since 2014 he's played 49 NHL games with the San Jose Sharks.
A former member of the prestigious US National Development team, Connor Carrick was drafted by the Capitals in 2012. In 2013 he helped the Americans win Gold at the World Junior Championships. The defenceman has already played 37 NHL games with Washington.
Czech forward Jiri Sekac was a late bloomer and signed as a free agent by the Montreal Canadiens in 2014. He played one season with the Montreal before being traded to the Anaheim Ducks. He's played 90 career NHL games between the Habs and Ducks, scoring 10 goals and 24 points.
Russian foreword Valeri Nichushkin was drafted 10th overall by Dallas in 2013. Nichushkin proceeded to make the jump straight into the NHL and had a solid rookie year with Dallas, scoring 14 goals and 34 points. Injuries have slowed his progress but he still remains a full time Dallas Star.
Josh Jooris was an undrafted forward who earned an NHL contract after three solid season of NCAA hockey with Union College in New York. Jooris is in his second season as a full time member of the Calgary Flames. So far he's scored 15 goals and 31 points in 88 career NHL games with the Flames. His father, Mark, was a longtime pro hockey player who never made it to the NHL.
Nic Deslauriers was drafted by the LA Kings in 2009 but was unable to crack their roster. In March, 2014 he was traded to the Buffalo Sabres and a couple days later made his NHL debut. He's since played well over 100 NHL games with Buffalo.
Swedish defenceman Patrik Nemeth was drafted by the Dallas Stars 41st overall in 2010. He helped Sweden win Gold at the 2012 World Junior Championhips and in 2014 helped the Texas Stars with the AHL's Calder Cup. He's recorded 4 assists in 40 career NHL games with the Dallas Stars.
Justin Fontaine spent four seasons at the University of Minnesota-Duluth before making his way to the Wild. Fontaine is entering his third season as a full time member of the Wild and has already played 150+ games in the NHL.
The Blackhawks drafted Brandon Saad 43rd overall in 2011. He emerged as a top tier NHLer with the Hawks and won a Stanley Cup in 2013 and 2015. In the summer of 2015 he was traded and signed to a big contract by the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Mika Zibanejad was drafted 6th overall in 2011 by the Ottawa Senators. The skilled Swede has already played 244 regular season NHL games with the Sens.
The Montreal Canadiens drafted Nathan Beaulieu 17th overall in 2011. He had a strong junior career with the Saint John Sea Dogs, winning two league championships and in 2011 winning the Memorial Cup. In 2012 Beaulieu won a Bronze medal at the World Juniors with Canada. The offensive defenceman has already played 132 regular season games in the NHL with Montreal.
Matt Nieto represents the massive gains hockey has made in California. He's a native of Long Beach and rose through the hockey ranks by attending the US National Development Program and then spending three years at Boston University. The Sharks drafted Nieto in the second round of the 2011 NHL draft and he's already played nearly 200 NHL games with San Jose.
Since 2013 Jerry D'Amigo has played 31 games in the NHL between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres.
Austrian Michael Raffl was signed by the Flyes as an undrafted free agent. He's entering his third season in the NHL and has put up a respectable 36 goals and 61 points in 176 games. He represented Austria at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Jayson Megna was never drafted but was signed as a free agent by the Penguins after playing just one season of NCAA hockey in Nebraska-Omaha. From 2013 to 2015 Megna scored 5 goals and 10 points in 48 NHL games with the Penguins. He was recently signed by the New York Rangers and has since played another 4 NHL games with the club, netting a goal and an assist.
Sean Collins (born 1983)
From 2008 to 2012 Sean Collins played 21 NHL games with Washington. He retired in 2013 and I've been unable to locate his whereabouts. There is another Sean Collins (born 1988) who currently plays in the NHL. Since the other Sean Collins played for the Washington Capitals and there is a third Sean Collins who was born in the same year as this Collins and also played pro hockey for a number of years, its hard to do any kind of specific search for this Sean Collins. For these reasons I decided to spring on this cheap purchase from a trusted seller.
The 41st and last autograph of the post goes into my 'Backup Only' binder.
Eric Hartzell dressed as backup goalie for the Pittsburgh Penguins in one NHL game during the 2012/2013 season. He dressed as backup to Tomas Vokoun on April 22 when Marc-Andre Fleury missed a game due to the birth of his first child. Hartzell was an undrafted free agent signing from Quinnipiac University in Connecticut where he was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award. Hartzell spent a couple seasons in Pittsburgh's organization but was never able to get an NHL start.