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The Chase for the Elusive Connor Bedard Young Guns Card

Connor Bedard’s Outburst Gold 1/1 Young Guns card has fetched a $1 million dollar bounty. What does this mean for the hobby?

The hunt is afoot, folks. If you dabble in sports cards, you’ve heard the hype about the famed Connor Bedard Young Gun Series 2 rookie card. The 2023-24 season includes the very first NHL cards featuring Bedard, who was drafted number one overall in 2023. The cards are already collector’s items and many are sure to be a solid investment.

Bedard’s stellar pre-draft resume, including two World Junior Championship gold medals, made him a thrilling target for the 2023 draft. He is widely regarded as one of the best draft picks of the last five to ten years, comparable to the likes of Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid who were drafted in 2016 and 2015 respectively. This Bedard hype has continued throughout his rookie season, especially as he leads all rookies with 56 points (21 goals, 35 assists) in 58 games this season.

It’s no surprise that fans and collectors everywhere are tripping over themselves to get the cards. All want their first glimpse of the Vancouver star in a collectible form. But these highly coveted Bedard cards are drawing attention from more than collectors. The extra demand comes from seasoned breakers and resellers, including many who don’t usually follow hockey.

Connor Bedard UD Young Guns RC Card

While fans are excited to see the first-ever professional cards featuring Bedard, investors are excited for another reason: the cards released for this season will be the last sets to chronicle Bedard’s inaugural rookie season. Given the high resale prices of Bedard rookie cards in the current market, anyone able to find one of these cards in a retail box can make an instant profit. 

It’s tough to predict how the market will move on these cards over time. There are many factors at play and many different directions Bedard’s career can take. However, rookie cards tend to be highly coveted by collectors across all sports. While the current going rate for these cards represents a bubble that will eventually pop, it’s safe to say many of these cards will retain significant value over time.

What is the Current Value of these Cards?

In the wake of the highly anticipated March 6th release of the Upper Deck 2023-24 Series 2 collection, hockey lovers, hobbyists, and breakers alike have all been scrambling in search of any card that depicts Connor Bedard’s likeness. Different cards are worth varying amounts, but even the more common Bedard hits sell online for several times the rate of their non-Bedard counterparts.

The Series 2 Dazzlers insert and the 94-95 Gold Die Cut, for example, are selling on eBay for anywhere from $60 to $600 for Bedard. Meanwhile, Connor McDavid’s Dazzlers from the same set are selling for $5-10. Bedard’s coattails have also extended to his O-Pee Chee Marquee Rookies card. These are selling for over $100 despite being a base card that ordinarily would be in the $10-20 range. 

Many collectors have already been lucky enough to find a Bedard Young Gun in their first few weeks of hunting. Perhaps that isn’t super surprising as Young Gun cards are purported to be one in every four packs or six per hobby box. Still, Bedard is one of 50 possible Young Guns featured. While they’re not the rarest find, these cards have been pretty lucrative on the resale market. They are currently being sold ungraded for between $300 and $1000 on eBay.

The Big Hit: Connor Bedard Outburst Gold 1/1 Young Guns Card

Amazingly, none of these pricey inserts are what has everyone buying out their local card shops. The real chase is for the elusive Connor Bedard Outburst Gold 1/1 Young Guns. This completely one-of-a-kind card has turned many a head. So much so, that Dave & Adam’s Card World placed a $1 million bounty on the card days before the Series II release. The hunt for this legendary card, fueled by the unprecedented bounty it’s drawn, has caused the already thriving Connor Bedard mania to simply explode. The whole saga feels eerily reminiscent of a modern-day Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Despite everyone’s best efforts, the Outburst Gold 1/1 still has not been found to date. Until it is, anticipation will likely persist throughout the sports world. When the shimmery gold card is finally found (assuming it’s sold at or above the million-dollar bounty), it has a chance to become the third most expensive hockey card ever sold. It will be just the third hockey card in history to be sold for seven figures. It would follow only the Wayne Gretzky 1979 Topps #18 PSA 10 in second place at $1.2 million, and the Wayne Gretzky 1979 O-Pee-Chee Base #18 PSA 10 in first place at $3.75 million. Put a different way, it would become the most expensive hockey card of all time that is not a Gretzky rookie card with the highest possible grading. And what’s even more exciting is the Outburst Gold 1/1 could accomplish this historic feat before it’s even been graded.

Downstream Impact on the Hobby Market

Those of us who were hockey card hobbyists before Bedard came along know this type of money is unheard of. It’s no secret that hockey cards have always been less popular than those of other major sports. Simply put, historically there has been less money to be made in hockey. But from an investment standpoint, this also means the hockey card industry has nowhere to go but up.

With the COVID-19 pandemic came an explosion of popularity across all hobby markets, and hockey cards were no exception. According to Card Ladder indexes, the hockey card market has been consistently trending up in recent years following the pandemic. Other NHL players’ rookie cards have also seen a recent surge in value. Notably Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby, and Alex Ovechkin, especially as Ovechkin closes in on Gretzky’s all-time scoring record. 

Even with this recent growth, nothing in the history of hockey cards compares to the buzz surrounding the release of the Outburst Gold 1/1. Card shop owners have seen unprecedented crowds demanding box after box of Series 2. Upper Deck is now selling Series 2 hobby boxes for $300, a steep increase from previous years and even from the originally listed presale price of $200. 

KODAK Digital Still Camera

As the chase for Bedard has come to define the 2023-24 hobby season, many sellers have seen an uptick in overall demand for hockey cards. “All the [hockey] product that I have had over the last couple of years has been selling,” said Ronnie Holloway, owner of Elite Sports Cards. “I’ve got basketball collectors wanting hockey. Baseball fans want hockey. Everyone wants a Connor Bedard.” It would appear the market is ripe for the hockey card hobby to cash in on the crowd of new collectors that have joined the hobby since the pandemic. Many of these new collectors have been drawn to other major sports by big names like Victor Wembanyama and Shohei Ohtani. Now that hockey has a big name to get excited about, the hockey card industry will likely see the same pattern of growth seen in the early 2000s with the rise of Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin.

So What’s Next?

Clearly, this is a pivotal moment for the hockey card industry. The market is steadily expanding and is predicted to continue rising alongside other sports card markets. But one important factor to consider is publicity. The NBA, for example, does not have any problems getting publicity. Basketball players are celebrity superstars in our culture and are constantly being covered in the media. For a multitude of reasons (most of them named Gary Bettman), the NHL does not have the same place in pop culture other major sports have. While the Bedard chase marks an important moment for the hockey hobby, if major industry players fail to move quickly and thoughtfully to capitalize on it, it is in danger of remaining just that: a moment. 

The entire hockey card industry cannot rely on one 18-year-old to continue boosting its sales. The NHL has been guilty of trying, starting off the season shining a 24/7 spotlight on Bedard and then realizing their PR Department had nowhere to turn when he suffered a fractured jaw and had to be placed on IR for six weeks.

NHL Needs To Market Their Product and Stars Better

The NHL needs to do a better job promoting and highlighting their popular young players. Reaching the community of existing hockey fans is one thing. A noticeable lack of crossover into mainstream media is another. There are plenty of ways for a modern PR Department to garner mainstream publicity via social media. Yet, during the season, mainstream coverage of the NHL has mostly been for negative reasons.

Prime examples include the video of Michael Buble jokingly admitting to tripping on LSD during the All-Star game and the announcement by the NHL that it was banning the use of pride tape. Engaging in more out-of-the-box, positive media campaigns might allow the NHL to reach a wider audience. They might be able to counter these otherwise negative impressions the public is often left with. This would in turn draw more people to the sport and the hobby.

The future success of the hockey card market also largely depends on the quality of upcoming rookie classes. Players like Bedard come around once in a generation. Still, there are undoubtedly diamonds in the rough who would thrive as a public personality if given the exposure. The hockey community needs to shine a bigger spotlight on its talented young guns, and the NHL needs to ensure that players and their teams have all the tools needed for a successful development. If these goals can be accomplished, we may not need to wait another decade for the next Connor Bedard.

Next: Unopened Case With Wayne Gretzky Rookie Cards Sells for $3.1M

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