Goalies tend to be around for a long time. For example, they don’t decline as rapidly as most wingers, while experience counts for a lot between the sticks, leading to extended careers and multiple broken records.
The best goaltenders are able to make a difference in the biggest games. You need to have a certain type of personality to be willing to take pucks to the face repeatedly, while they tend to be hidden away behind their gear, ever ready to be called into action.
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Nevertheless, they’re often ignored in favor of attackers at the other end, who gets the majority of the glory. Their rookie cards are often overlooked in terms of price and overall interest, despite there being a number of decent options that every collector should own.
We’ve come up with a list with three of the best NHL goaltenders of all-time, with lots of info about their best rookie card, the player’s achievements, and an investment outlook looking at the next few years.
Top 3 NHL Goalie Rookie Cards of All-Time
Most things in sports are debatable. Who would beat who in their prime, or which player is the greatest of all-time? When it comes to NHL goalies, there are a couple of names that jump out almost instantly, and it’s easy to think of three candidates that are slightly ahead of the rest of the pack. You can always look at pure stats, but the best goalies bring a calming influence to the defense, which is why they tend to win so much in terms of silverware.
Here are three of the top NHL goalie rookie cards of all-time, featuring some of the best players ever to hit the ice.
1. 1986 Patrick Roy O-Pee-Chee Hockey RC #53 (buy on eBay)
Patrick Roy is an eccentric former goaltender who won four Stanley Cups during his career, getting two apiece with the Montreal Canadiens and the Colorado Avalanche. Known for his superstitious nature, ‘Saint Patrick’ is undoubtedly one of the greatest characters to play in the NHL.
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His 1986 O-Pee-Chee RC is seen as his best RC option, released in a year when he took over as the starting goalie and led the Montreal Canadiens to the Stanley Cup.
It features an action shot of the player preparing to make a save, with his eyes staring intently at an attack taking place in the distance. His shirt number (33) is clearly visible, while there are a clean blue and red line around the crisp white border, helping it to stand out
In terms of design, it’s almost exactly the same as the Topps card released in the same year. You’ll be able to tell the difference by looking at the logo located in the top left corner. The key card in 1986-87 O-Pee-Chee Hockey set, it’s fairly affordable, although it’s still more expensive than the Topps version.
2. 1991 Dominik Hasek Upper Deck US/French RC #335 (buy on eBay)
Next up is a Dominik Hasek RC that was released by Upper Deck in 1991. Hasek is a two-time Stanley Cup winner and made six All-Star appearances over the years for the Chicago Blackhawks, Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings and the Ottawa Senators respectively in a 16-season NHL career. He won the Hart Memorial Trophy as league MVP in back-to-back years and is clearly one of the greatest goalies ever.
His 1991 Upper Deck card is what we’re looking at today. Of his nine RC options, it’s the pick of the bunch, although it was produced in an era in which print runs were massive. This means that even a PSA 9 grade can be picked up for next to nothing.
It’s a simple card that features an action shot of the legendary goalie in the process of making a save, with his stick laid out on the ice in anticipation. It has a solid white border, with Hasek’s team name (Blackhawks) at the bottom.
There’s also a French version that has different text on the front and the reverse. You’ll be able to tell by checking out his position on the front of the card, which is listed as “Gardien debut”. On the US version, he’s listed as a goaltender.
3. 1990 Martin Brodeur Score Hockey RC #439 (buy on eBay)
Another legendary goalie, Martin Brodeur is first on the record of NHL wins with 691. It’s hard to do better than that, but he’s also the regular-season leader in losses (397), shutouts (125), games played (1,266), and goals scored (3). In 21 seasons with New Jersey, Brodeur won the Stanley Cup three times and picked up five Eastern Conference championships along the way.
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Brodeur easily makes it onto any list of the top NHL goaltenders of all time, and his 1990 Score is his definitive RC, featuring an image of the player soon after being picked by the New Jersey Devils in 1990. The red card stock found at the top is susceptible to chipping, while it’s not made of the best materials compared to modern options. This means that it can be tough to find gem mint versions, despite the high print runs.
There’s also a Canadian version, which is almost the same card. It has the same number (#439), but it features French text on the reverse. You’ll also be able to tell the difference by checking out the front. Canadian cards have a red Score logo at the top, while the US version is blue.
However, there’s no real difference in value between the two, as they were released with similarly large print runs.
3 NHL Goalie Rookie Cards of All-Time: Investment Outlook
It’s easy to buy any of the cards on the list for next to nothing, even if you’re looking at decently graded copies. Unfortunately for Hasek and Brodeur, their cards were released during the height of the junk wax era, and supply still outweighs demand because of the large print runs associated with the majority of hockey cards that were released at the time.
Furthermore, goalie’s cards are typically the most inexpensive compared to other positions on the ice, leading to even cheaper prices compared to attackers.
Each of the players on the list has so many cards on the market, so it’s clear why their rookie cards are seen as some of the better options. Take Hasek and his nine rookie cards, all of which debuted in 1991-92 products. Then there are signed cards, patches, and memorabilia from the next 30 years, further muddying the waters.
As an investment piece, it’s unlikely that the rookie cards listed above are going to jump up in price rapidly over the next few years. However, each has a claim in terms of being the best goalie in NHL history, so there should be long-term growth as the massive supply begins to dwindle, and gem mint copies become more difficult to find on the market.
In the here and now, they’re highly all affordable and can serve as an entry-level investment piece for any would-be collectors. At worst, you’ll own RCs for three of the best NHL goalies of all-time, and it’s not like they’re likely to depreciate given their current market values.
Investment Rating: Strong Buy
Ownership Disclosure: 1x Martin Brodeur Score Rookie Card #439 PSA 10