While hockey may not be as popular in the United States as in other major sports leagues, the game still has a growing following that is eager to buy sports cards.
On top of the game’s growing nature in America, the game has a legion of devoted, passionate fans living across Canada.
Investment Rating: Strong Buy (4.8 out of 5)
Best Hockey Card To Buy: Wayne Gretzky OPC Rookie (Shop eBay)
Demand for hockey cards has risen throughout the COVID pandemic, just like the rest of the sports. As the league continues to grow, we can expect to see new consumers entering the market and continuing to help drive prices up.
These five cards are some of the best to invest in for collectors who want exposure to hockey cards, and they span all the different eras of the league. From the 1951-52 Parkhurst Gordie Howe representing the early stages of the game to the 2005-06 Upper Deck “The Cup” Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby cards representing the modern game, hockey cards have changed a lot. However, they all are still valuable for a variety of different reasons.
Investors who are looking to get into hockey cards should determine if they want to go for a more modern card or a vintage card. The modern cards, such as the Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby cards on this list, come with autographs and patches that help give the card unique features that keep the price high.
Instead of autographs and patches, the value of vintage cards comes from the lower quantity available and the icons pictured on the cards. These cards can be tough to find in good condition because of their age, but in solid condition, they can be precious.
Grading is another critical factor when determining whether an investment is suitable. Ungraded cards will be available for a lower upfront cost, but with that comes the risk that they do not receive the grade that you may wish for.
1979 Wayne Gretzky O-Pee-Chee RC #18
Wayne Gretzky is not only the most dominant hockey player of all time; he may be the most dominant athlete. Gretzky absolutely demolished the record books during his playing days as he used his uncanny hockey sense to stay two steps ahead and control the game like a puppet master.
Perhaps one of the most incredible stats in all sports is that if you removed all of Gretzky’s goals, in which he ranks first in NHL history with 894, he would still be the league’s all-time point leader with just his assists.
This 1979 O-Pee-Chee Wayne Gretzky is one of the most iconic hockey cards ever made and commands a high price because of it. The signature rookie card of the face of the sport will always be a card that is in high demand and an excellent option for investors.
This card can be tough to find in good condition as the blue border can lend itself to chipping easily. It was also a card counterfeited often, and investors looking to purchase this card should ensure that a reputable source has checked it before buying.
1985 Mario Lemieux O-Pee-Chee RC #9
Mario Lemieux was a skilled bully as he would punish smaller defenders with his size while dancing gracefully around the behemoths coming for his head. Lemieux’s career would be cut short due to many health issues, yet he still managed to have one of the most successful NHL careers ever.
This card shows Lemieux in the black Pittsburgh Penguins jersey of the time as he waits for play to begin. Investors should look at this card or its Topps counterpart if they want to add a “Super Mario” card to their collection. This card can be hard to find in pristine conditions as it tends to have some printing issues, such as being off-centered or having poor edges.
2005 Alexander Ovechkin Upper Deck “The Cup” RC
When Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby entered the NHL in the post-lockout 2005-06 season, it marked the beginning of a new era for the league. Since then, Ovechkin has proven himself to be one of the deadliest snipers in hockey history, as he has constantly terrorized goalies with his howitzer of a shot.
The Upper Deck “The Cup” set has changed the hockey card industry as it was the first set to create a true high-class, premium product. In addition to pushing the boundaries of how premium a product they could release, this set had the benefit of having a legendary rookie class made possible by the loss of the 2004-05 season to a lockout.
Ovechkin has solidified himself as one of the greatest of all time, and the numbers he has managed to put up in the modern era are astounding. When adjusting for how the game has evolved, it becomes clear that Ovechkin has found a way to put pucks in the back of the net at a rate that barely anyone has.
2005 Sidney Crosby Upper Deck “The Cup” RC #180
A child phenom, “Sid the Kid,” has held the expectations of an entire country on his shoulders from a very young age. Somehow, he has not only accomplished everything expected of him but surpassed those lofty goals and established himself as one of the most important Canadian hockey figures of all time.
Crosby has achieved remarkable success at both the NHL and international levels, winning multiple Stanley Cups and Olympic gold medals.
This card comes from the same set as the Alexander Ovechkin card mentioned above, and the two are similar in many ways. They are both luxury cards adorned with an autograph and a jersey patch.
Crosby is one of the best options for investors because of the large aura around him and his celebrity status in Canada. He is one of the most popular players ever to play the game and is an icon for an entire generation of hockey players.
1951 Gordie Howe Parkhurst RC #66
The oldest card on this list, this Gordie Howe rookie card, belongs to the legendary 1951-52 Parkhurst set. This collection of cards is considered one of the first sets of modern hockey cards and includes several key rookies of future Hockey Hall of Famers.
Investing in this card would be a good idea for collectors looking for a premium product who can appreciate the history behind a card like this. The combination of the significance of the Parkhurst set, and the icon pictured on the card make this a desirable card that will command high prices even in moderate conditions. Gordie Howe doesn’t have the nickname “Mr. Hockey” for nothing, as the man is synonymous with the great game.
Investors more interested in vintage cards will definitely find themselves attracted to this card as it doesn’t have the fancy bells and whistles that some of the other cards on this list do. No autographs, no jersey patches, just a historic card that has derived value through time and aura.
These five cards would make great investments as they are some of the best hockey cards. Advanced collectors and novices should consider purchasing some of these cards for their portfolios.
All the cards shown above make excellent long-term investments and should all outperform your average stock over the next 10 to 20 years, particularly the Wayne Gretzky rookie card.