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An Inside Look At The Superior Series 2 Of 2022-23 Upper Deck Hockey – But There Is A Cause For Concern

2022-23 upper deck hockey

The latest Upper Deck hockey flagship product is here. Sure, the design is the same as the earlier release.

But that isn’t a bad thing, considering that the minimalist design for 2022/23 has been relatively popular. But that is beside the point.

Not only is this a chance to get an update on the trades and promotions, but most importantly, it brings a new crop of Young Guns. As long-time hockey collectors know, the Series 2 rookies are often significantly better than their Series 1 counterpart.

So, if you have bought into Series 1 or are just a casual hockey collector, is this Series worth the investment? Our 2022/23 Upper Deck Series 2 Hockey review tells you everything you need to know.

While this year’s Series 2 release retains many of the strengths of previous years, there is also some cause for concern. But we are getting ahead of ourselves.

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Upper Deck Series 2 Hockey 2022-23 release date

The primary release date for 2022/23 Upper Deck Series 2 Hockey is April 5, 2023. On that day, you can expect the launch of retail products. But as is customary, the retail release will be more gradual.

Hobby-related products are expected to drop on March 8th.

The history of Upper Deck Series 2 Hockey

As every sports card enthusiast knows, Upper Deck hit the hobby like a ton of bricks with its 1989 baseball release. The set revolutionized the aesthetics and quality of cards altogether.

Building on their success, the California company issued a hockey card set the following year.

So 1990/91 saw the launch of Upper Deck Hockey. The set consisted of 550 cards and was divided into two parts. At that time, the release was staggered, with a Low Series making up most of the cards. The High Series consisted of those final 150 cards.

The set was a beauty bringing the trademark Upper Deck glossiness to what was, at the time, the reasonably drab world of hockey cards. The Topps and O-Pee-Chee cards of the time just couldn’t compete.  

In 1993-94, Upper Deck changed the name of their releases to Series 1 and Series 2. They had obviously copied that format from Topps. But considering the originality that Upper Deck brought to the hobby, that can be forgiven for doing so.

Since then, the structure has repeated every year and has become the standard for hockey card collectors.

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2022-23 Upper Deck Series 2 release formats

Upper Deck Series 2 has always enjoyed release in a wide range of retail formats as a highly popular and reasonably priced flagship release. 2022-23 Upper Deck Hockey is no different.

However, there are always minor variations as Upper Deck tweaks the formula. So what does the flagship release have in store for us this year? First, let’s break down all the formats and have a look.

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Upper Deck Hockey 2022-23 Hobby Box

This year’s hobby boxes are remarkable for the large selection of guaranteed cards.

Unlike Topps and Panini, they get very specific in what you can expect when springing for the hobby. And listen, transparency is always a highly commendable trait.

  • 8 cards per pack
  • 24 packs per box
  • 12 boxes per case
  • You can pre-order a box for $120
  • A case goes for $1,400.

Cards you can expect in hobby boxes:

  • 6 Young Guns Cards
  • 5 Calder Candidates
  • Greetings From, Lunch Box Legends and/or World Juniors Grads Cards
  • 4 UD Canvas Cards (Includes Young Guns)
  • 2 UD Portraits Rookies Cards (Includes SPs)
  • 2 Honor Roll Cards
  • 1 Regular Base Set or Young Guns – French Parallel Card
  • 1 Instant Impressions Card
  • 1 Dazzlers – Blue Card
  • 1 Base Set – Clear Cut Parallel (incl. Young Guns)
  • Highlighters (Yellow or Orange)
  • Rookie Materials or Other Hit Card
  • 1 Additional Insert per box on average

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Fat Pack

Retail Box

Blasters

Tins

  • 8 cards per pack
  • 8 regular packs
  • 1 exclusive O-Pee-Chee Glossy Rookies Bonus Pack per tin
  • Buy a tin for $30
  • Or get a case for $350

Review of the 2022/23 Upper Deck Series 2 checklist

The checklist of an Upper Deck Hockey flagship release is generally judged by the class of Young Guns it features. We will soon release an overview of all 50 players in the Series 2 checklist. But as always, it has some excellent prospects.

The truth is the level of new talent coming into the NHL recently has been insanely high. And Series 2 has a big advantage over Series 1.

It includes players making their debuts this season. Season 1 consisted of players that had already seen action in the previous campaign.

But that isn’t the only attraction for this release. As a long-running favorite, it has also developed a strong roster of inserts and parallels.

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The base set

This is a 200-base card set. It comes with the following parallels:

  • Base Set (251-450) N/A
  • Base Set – Exclusives Parallel #’d to 100
  • Base Set – High Gloss Parallel #’d to 10
  • Base Set – Clear Cut Parallel (Hobby Exclusive!) 1:96
  • Base Set – French Parallel 1:30

Young Guns

  • Young Guns (451-500) 1:4
  • Young Guns – Exclusives Parallel #’d to 100
  • Young Guns – High Gloss Parallel #’d to 10
  • Young Guns – Clear Cut Parallel (Hobby Exclusive!) 1:288
  • Young Guns – French Parallel 1:120
  • UD Canvas Young Guns (C211 – C240) 1:48
  • UD Canvas Young Guns Printing Plates N/A

The 2022-23 Upper Deck Series 2 inserts

Some of the best-loved inserts in the Upper Deck flagship products are returning. None of these are a surprising inclusion due to their popularity with hockey collectors.

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Dazzlers

These inserts feature the players with the most dazzling ice skills in some of the brightest colors known to man. The color schemes are hit-and-miss. However, we like the full-bodied player representations in that pop-out scheme.

This is the third year for these inserts and they have proven relatively popular. There are 50 rookies on the checklist for these cards.

They come in blue and pink versions. The pink ones are a lot to look at but in a fun way. There is also a printing plate variation of the blue dazzlers.

Honor Roll

Honor Roll is one of the oldest and most loved inserts in the Upper Deck Hockey releases. It traditionally features the rookies with the best performance, using the gimmick of a collegiate honor roll as its aesthetic center.

There are 50 rookies in the 2022-23 Series 2 version of the inserts. They also come in a Gold Rainbow /25 and a regular Rainbow /250 parallel.

Population Count

This cool insert plays on the hobby concept of the population count. True to its theme, each card is numbered. They have a trademark old-school frame, providing the Population Count inserts with a unique look.

The coolest part about this insert is that it only features rookies. So, no veterans to clog up the checklist. These cards come in:

  • /1000
  • /500
  • /100
  • /50
  • /25
  • /10
  • /1

Rookie Materials

Upper Deck has always saved this memorabilia set for Series 2. It has the advantage of being a rookies-only set, so if you get the right prospect, it’s a scorcher of a card. However, it’s mainly a good one if you happen to pull one of the /25 versions available in the boxes.

UD Canvas

An absolute fan favorite, and with perfect reason. Upper Deck saves its best photography for these full card portraits, designed similarly to Topps Stadium Club. Each box contains four of these UD Canvas cards on average.

The UD Portraits Rookies series includes 40 cards (including 10 SPs) for this very popular insert. It also comes in new variations, including an all-new Silver parallels #’d to 99 or 25 (SPs) and a printing plate for these portraits.

New Upper Deck Hockey 2022-23 Series 2 inserts

Every year Upper Deck introduces some new inserts. A few stick around, while most phase out sooner rather than later. Here are some new inserts they are trying out in Upper Deck Series 2 Hockey.

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Calder Candidates

The Calder Memorial Trophy is given “to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition in the National Hockey League.” So, this insert puts together the primary candidates for NHL rookie of the year. It has beautiful golden parallels and a printing plate version.

Greetings From

Panini has had great success with its Downtown Series, which depicts players in the background of landmarks from the city where they play. Topps also capitalized on this format with its Homefield Advantage set.

So, it’s not too surprising that Upper Deck would come out with its version. Each card in this set highlights the city or state in which each NHL team plays. Collect the standard set, the rare Gold parallel, and the printing plates. 

So, expect to see your favorite hockey players skating with Lady Liberty and the CN Tower in the background.

Highlighters

It looks like Upper Deck is going all out with school-inspired designs and puns for Series 2. They added the Lunch Box Legends to the mix and have long had Honor Roll inserts in their projects.

In this insert, Upper Deck will “highlight” the best performers of last season with the traditional highlighter colors: Yellow, Orange, Pink, and Green. This is a 25-card set. I was always a blue highlighter kind of guy, but no one bothered to consult me.

Lunch Box Legends

The Lunch Box Legends one is my favorite of the new inserts by a country mile. It plays on those classic lunch boxes of the 1970s and 1980s, putting some of the best players in the league in their own design.

You can tell the designers really got into this one because the designs are both attractive and convincing. The 30-card set also has a Gold parallel and a printing plate version.

2022-23 Upper Deck Series 2 value

The Upper Deck Series 1 and Series 2 cards are, of course, flagship releases. Therefore, theoretically, they should be worth less than the higher-end hockey releases.

But the hockey card world is quite different from its football and basketball counterparts. The high-end stuff isn’t as popular, and the lower-end releases tend to maintain value better as a result.

So let’s see how Series 2 has held up in value. We will examine hobby boxes, retail boxes, and singles to get a better idea of the kind of value this release enjoys.  

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Wax

Are the Series 2 boxes worth stashing in the closet for the long haul? These are the current resell prices for the product over the last five years.

ReleaseValue
2017-18 Upper Deck Series 2 Hobby Box$173
2018-19 Upper Deck Series 2 Hobby Box$230
2019-20 Upper Deck Series 2 Hobby Box$411
2020-21 Upper Deck Series 2 Hobby Box$142
2021-22 Upper Deck Series 2 Hobby Box$82

For an investment of $120, you are likely to make your money back. At least eventually. The 2019-20 version is enjoying better prices than most on the strength of the Cale Makar cards. Unfortunately, the prices make this a reliable but unspectacular wax investment on the hobby side.

Retail

Do the retail products fair better? Sometimes there is a divorce between the hobby and retail markets, and it is always worth getting the numbers.

ReleasePrice
2017-18 Upper Deck Series 2 Blaster$60
2018-19 Upper Deck Series 2 Blaster$45
2019-20 Upper Deck Series 2 Blaster$90
2020-21 Upper Deck Series 2 Blaster$22
2021-22 Upper Deck Series 2 Blaster$15

As you can see, you could make a nice profit back in the day with these blasters. However, the numbers are dramatically lowered over the last two years. That may indicate that collectors wised up to the substantial resale value of blasters in the past. So, fewer people were ripping, and more were hoarding.

Singles

The Upper Deck flagship release is best known for its Young Guns inserts. So, we threw some strong Young Guns cards into the mix to see what you can expect when ripping Upper Deck Series 2 boxes. All of these cards are PSA 10s.

Card (PSA 10)Value
2005-06 Upper Deck Series 2 Alexander Ovechkin Young Guns$1,625
2016-17 Upper Deck Series 2 Auston Matthews Young Guns Canvas$753
2019-20 Upper Deck Series 2 Cale Makar Young Guns$680
2020-21 Upper Deck Series 2 Cole Caufield Young Guns$243
2020-21 Upper Deck Series 2 Kirill Kaprizov Young Guns Canvas$276

The Young Guns cards are absolutely dominant when you look at the most valuable cards from Series 2. Of course, that is no surprise to hockey collectors. But still, the sheer extent is notable.

There are really no non-Young Guns cards among the most valuable. It’s great that a base card rookie is still so valuable. Fans of other sports can only be envious. However, it’s a shame that all of these nice inserts Upper Deck puts together get wholly ignored by the marketplace. Some of the other inserts deserve love as well. Especially that Lunch Box Legends one!

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Final thoughts of the 2022-23 Upper Deck Series 2 Hockey

Hockey fans know what they get when they buy the flagship products. Series 1, or Series 2, the boxes offer a reliable number of Young Guns, and those are predictably valuable.

Naturally, therefore, the product is usually worth looking into. That is doubly true, considering the ridiculously high caliber of hockey prospects in recent years.

But there are two negative trends with Upper Deck flagship. First, for many years the wax was a vital investment. You could expect the boxes in your closet to triple in value, whether they were hobby or blasters.

People love those Young Guns cards, and most products have more than one worth ripping for. But that has changed significantly in the last year or two.

As more people have tried to make money from flipping, fewer people are ripping. With more boxes stashed away, the overall value of flagship Upper Deck wax has taken a hit.

The other problem is a distinct lack of depth. Few cards are worth anything outside the Young Guns cards. That makes the product kind of dispiriting to rip. I don’t want to say that all the other cards are junk, especially since they are so well-designed. But that is at least what the market is saying.

The best products have several highlights and a lot of mid-range cards that are fun to get and can even sell for a bit of quick cash. Unfortunately, Upper Deck is developing a serious problem in that regard.

They will want to focus on creating more desirable non-Young Guns cards. An emphasis on case hits could definitely help in that regard.

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Shaiel Ben-Ephraim

Shaiel Ben-Ephraim

Shaiel Ben-Ephraim is the emeritus editor of Cardlines. He continues to write for several hobby outlets, including this one and Cardbase. He collects primarily vintage baseball and soccer and has a weird obsession with 1971 Topps.

In his spare time, Shaiel is sobbing into his bourbon when the Mets lose and playing Dungeons and Dragons. In a past life, Dr. Ben-Ephraim was a political science professor, journalist, and diplomat. But cards are more fun.
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