So the NHL may not be the No. 1 sport in North America, but NHL rookie cards are fairly popular. When a new season is in full swing, this means that new players are going to be making their respective debuts on the ice. This doesn't automatically mean that the youngsters are immediately going to become the next Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby or even Connor McDavid, but they're likely going to help out their teams with their skills from the minor league and/or college levels.
Anyway, it's really fun to get a hold of various NHL rookie cards and save them for your hockey card collection, but did you know that the cards can be a money maker, as they're probably worth hundreds and maybe even thousands of dollars today? Yeah, that's right, there's a chance that you can financially benefit from your collection, unless if you don't plan on doing so. That's fine too, but you might want to reconsider one day because you may need the extra bucks to splurge on significant purchases like formal wear, vacation trips and perhaps a second home.
The NHL season doesn't kick off until this coming October. But that doesn't mean that you can't partake in hockey-related activities this summer, including reading this list-based article that focuses on rookie NHL cards. Anytime is a good time to check out this winter spot, especially if you're a diehard hockey fan with ice in your veins.
Here are 30 NHL cards (mostly rookie cards) that are now worth a fortune at auction.
25 Patrick Roy (1986-87)
Patrick Roy is a former head coach and vice president of hockey operations of the Colorado Avalanche. He is also a former goalie who was drafted 51st overall by the Montreal Canadiens in the 1984 NHL Entry Draft.
Roy may be better known by younger fans as a member of the Avs, but let's not forget that he started out on the Habs' roster in the mid 80s through the mid 90s.
That being said, the 1986-87 O-Pee-Chee rookie card of Roy books for at least $300 if it's in good condition. Not too shabby for an old-school card!
24 Terry Sawchuk (1951-52)
Terry Sawchuk was one of the greatest goalies as well as a Detroit Red Wings legend.
At the time of his passing, Sawchuk was the all-time leader among NHL goalies with 447 wins. Although that prestigious achievement has been surpassed by many other goalies, Sawchuk remains as the all-time leader in wins by goalies in the Original Six era. That's the main reason why Sawchuk was named as one of the 100 Greatest NHL Players in History in 2017.
This is the most recognizable card of Sawchuk, whose 1951-52 Parkhurst rookie card is worth thousands today.
23 Alex Ovechkin (2003-04)
Washington Capitals captain and left winger Alex Ovechkin finally added some oomph to his name when his team won the 2018 Stanley Cup Final this year.
But, even before the Caps' star-studded moment in the nation's capital, Ovechkin's 2003-04 SP Authentic rookie card was worth over $2,000. Right now, the card is worth around the same value if it's kept in good condition for that high grade that could increase the overall value as opposed to one that's of fair condition or lower.
This particular card is one of the most sought after cards of Ovi, and there's absolutely no shame in your game if you got one of these cards.
22 Sidney Crosby (2005)
Like Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby is another captain who's well on his way to making the 100 Greatest NHL Players in History list one day.
Anyway, Crosby is a captain and center for the Pittsburgh Penguins. He has played for the same team since he initially got drafted first overall in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft.
You can hate on Crosby all you want, but he's the best player of his era.
Crosby's 2005 Parkhurst rookie card is worth at least $5,000 with a high grade. However, if you're on a budget, you can bid for the same card for at least $700.
21 Bobby Orr (1966)
If you call yourself a real hockey fan, you should be familiar with the name Bobby Orr regardless of your age.
Orr is best known as one of the greatest hockey players of all time. His speed, scoring and play-making abilities allowed him to revolutionize the game. He played most of his pro career with the Boston Bruins and then spent two years with the Chicago Blackhawks before announcing his retirement. After that, he began a career in the player agent industry and later served as the president of the Orr Hockey Group.
Orr's 1966 Topps rookie card is worth $5,900 today.
20 Guy LaFleur (1971)
Montreal Canadiens legend Guy LaFleur was named as one of the 100 Greatest NHL Players in History in 2017 for a reason.
LaFleur was the first NHL player to score 50 goals and 100 points in six consecutive seasons. Also, he won five Stanley Cups with the Habs. Additionally, he spent some time with the New York Rangers and Quebec Nordiques (now the Colorado Avalanche).
LaFleur's 1971 O-Pee-Chee rookie card came out in 1971, and it was auctioned for over $12,000 in an almost perfect grade. The price has decreased, but it's still a boatload of money for the average person in North America.
19 Jacques Plante (1955)
Speaking of the Montreal Canadiens, Jacques Plante was another NHL player that you should know about if you haven't already known.
Plante was a goalie for the Habs. During his 10-year tenure in Montreal, the Habs won the Stanley Cup six times, five of which were consecutive wins. He was named to the 100 Greatest Players in History in 2017.
Plante's 1955 Quaker Oats rookie card is worth at least $7,200 today. That's a lot of money, but it's understandable, as finding one of these cards is very difficult since they were once distributed in cereal boxes and were often ruined in the process.
18 Georges Vezina (1911)
The Montreal Canadiens donated the Vezina Trophy to the NHL at the start of 1926-27 NHL season in honor of Georges Vezina, a well-known Habs goalie who spent nine seasons in Montreal.
Vezina, as you may already know, helped the Habs win the Stanley Cup in 1916 and 1924, while making it to the Stanley Cup Finals three more times. Habs fans often called him the "Chicoutimi Cucumber" for his calm self-control while in goal, and that's one of the many reasons why he was named to the 100 Greatest Players in History in 2017.
Vezina's 1911 Imperial Tobacco rookie card is worth at least $3,160 today.
17 Bobby Hull (1958)
Bobby Hull, also known as "The Golden Jet," was one of the greatest NHL players of all time. His desirable qualities were blonde hair, end-to-end rushes, skating speed, and ability to shoot the puck at a very high velocity.
Hull was born and raised in Point Anne, Ontario, but played for the Chicago Black Hawks (that was the original format of their name), Winnipeg Jets, and the Hartford Whalers during his 23-year pro career. That being said, he was rightfully named as one of the 100 Greatest NHL Players in History in 2017.
A high quality version of Hull's 1958 Topps rookie card is worth $12,500 today.
16 Mario Lemieux (1985)
Mario Lemieux is a current owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins and a former NHL player who played parts of 17 seasons with the Black and Yellow.
Lemieux was often described as a gifted play-maker who was a speedy skater even though he was on the larger side. He paved the way for some NHL stars, including Sidney Crosby, whom he has hosted in his family home when he was a youngster. The price for this card has gone as high as $14,000.
15 Gordie Howe (1951)
Now, we have to tell you about the only recognized rookie card of Gordie Howe, which is a 1951 Parkhurst rookie card that's worth at least $1,200 today.
As we've mentioned earlier, Howe was a Detroit Red Wings legend who was best known for his scoring prowess, physical strength, and pro career longevity.
He was the only NHL player who has competed in the league in five different decades (1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s).
Additionally, the Gordie Howe Hat Trick (one goal, one assist, one fight in the same game) was named after him.
14 Wayne Gretzky (1979-80 O-Pee-Chee)
Okay, if you don't know who Wayne Gretzky is, you should seriously consider brushing up on your hockey intelligence!
Gretzky is widely known as "The Great One" by many fans, reporters, players, and coaches who have been involved with the NHL one way or another. He gathered more assists than any other player scored total points, and is the only NHL player to total more than 200 points in a single season. He held 61 records up until 2017.
Gretzky's 1979 O-Pee-Chee rookie card is worth at least $2,200 today, but one in a high grade condition can go as high as $50,000.
13 Al MacInnis (1985)
Al MacInnis may not be a household name in the hockey world, but the former defenseman is worth checking out if you haven't already done so. He played 23 seasons in the NHL and won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the 1989 NHL playoffs after leading the Calgary Flames to the Stanley Cup Finals.
MacInnis is overlooked by lots of folks, but he was named as one of the 100 Greatest Players in History in 2017.
12 Wayne Gretzky (1979 Topps)
Yes, there were in fact multiple editions of a Wayne Gretzky rookie card, and if you managed to get your hands on any of them, you could make quite a bundle.
Gretzky's noteworthy pro career spanned all over North America, and the NHL retired his No.99 jersey around the league, which was a prestigious honor as he was the only NHL player who received such an honor.
Gretzky's 1979 Topps rookie card is worth at least $2,000 today.
11 Jari Kurri (1981-82)
Oilers fans have been suffering through some terrible hockey the past decade, but we have to remember just how spoiled Edmonton fans were in the 80s.
Former Oilers right winger Jari Kurri hails from Helsinki, Finland, and relocated to Edmonton, Alberta, after he signed with the team following a three-season tenure with Jokerit of the SM-liiga. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2001 and was later named as one of the 100 Greatest Players in History in 2017. He currently serves as the general manager of Jokerit.
10 Brett Hull (1988-89)
NHL star Brett Hull is the son of NHL legend, Bobby Hull, whom we've mentioned earlier in this list-based article, and pro figure skater Joanne McKay. There's no shortage of athletic genes in the Hull family.
Anyway, Brett played 19 seasons in the NHL for the Calgary Flames, St. Louis Blues, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, and Phoenix Coyotes. His career total of 741 goals is the fourth largest in league history, and he was one of only five players to score 50 goals in 50 games.
9 Paul Coffey (1981-82)
Paul Coffey, a retired defenseman who played for nine NHL teams in his 21-year tenure, was best known for his speed and scoring prowess. He ranks second all-time among defensemen in career goals, assists, and points. He won the Norris Trophy three times, which was incredible for defensemen in general.
Coffey, as you may already know, began his pro career with the Edmonton Oilers in 1980.
He rapidly blossomed into an NHL star in his first few years, and he went on to become one of the best offensive defensemen of all time.
8 Ray Bourque (1979-80)
As you can see, there are two sentences written in English and French on Ray Bourque's 1979-80 O-Pee-Chee rookie card.
As you may already know, Bourque made his NHL debut with the Boston Bruins and played the majority of his pro career in Beantown before spending two years with the Colorado Avalanche.
Bourque currently holds records for most career goals, assists, and points by an NHL defenseman. He also won the Norris Trophy five times in his career.
7 Steve Yzerman (1983-84)
Steve Yzerman is another name in Detroit Red Wings history that you gotta know.
Yzerman is currently the general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning, but he played his entire pro career with the Red Wings in the Motor City. He's a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame and was named as one of the 100 Greatest Players in History in 2017.
Despite relocating to the United States, Yzerman continued to represent his home country of Canada on several occasions.
6 Mark Messier (1980-81 O-Pee-Chee)
Mark Messier is better known for his tenure with the New York Rangers, but did you know that he was originally drafted 48th overall by the Edmonton Oilers in the 1979 NHL Entry Draft? Yeah, that's right.
Messier was often described as a fierce, tough competitor whose extreme leadership on and off the ice was valuable to his fellow teammates.
That description was attached to him throughout his career, which made him one of the greatest players of all time.
5 Gordie Howe (1951-52)
Gordie Howe, also known as "Mr. Hockey," was arguably the most complete player to ever play the game and one of the greatest hockey players of all time. He was a 23-time All-Star who held a ton of career scoring records until NHL star Wayne Gretzky broke them in the 1980s.
Howe's 1951-52 Parkhurst rookie card is the most recognizable card under his name and it has topped the charts at $50,000 in recent years. Good to hear, considering the fact that Howe is a Detroit Red Wings legend that will be remembered for years to come.
4 Tony Esposito (1969-70)
Tony Esposito is a Canadian-American goalie who played for the Chicago Black Hawks and Montreal Canadiens during his 17-year pro career in the NHL.
As you should already know, Tony is the younger brother of Phil Esposito, who played as a center.
Both brothers had established careers under their belts, and they were both enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Tony was named as one of the 100 Greatest Players in History in 2017.
Tony's 1969-70 O-Pee-Chee rookie card is worth at least $200 today.
3 Martin Brodeur (1990-91)
Ah, Martin Brodeur. He's a well-known goalie among New Jersey Devils fans. Not only that, he's a prominent figure among the entire hockey community, whom are likely familiar with his name.
Aside from his previous extramarital affair, Brodeur holds countless NHL records, including all-time regular season wins (691), losses (397), shutouts (125), and games played (1,266). Also, his hybrid style of goaltending by standing up instead of the atypical butterfly style made him unique in the early stages of his pro career.
2 Gordie Howe (1954)
If you consider yourself a hockey guru, you should be familiar with Detroit Red Wings legend Gordie Howe, who played 26 seasons in the NHL and six seasons in the WHA (World Hockey Association).
Howe was a 26-time All-Star and earned a spot in the top-10 in league scoring for 21 straight seasons. He also led the league in postseason points five times. He was a tremendous right winger to say the least.
Howe's 1954 Topps card is an early card to the inaugural hockey set from Topps.
By the way, a high quality version of this card is worth at least $2,000 right now.
1 Maurice Richard (1951-52)
Any true hockey fan should know who Maurice Richard was, Richard was named as one of the 100 Greatest Players in History in 2017. He retired as the NHL's all-time leader in goals (544) as well as the 1947 NHL MVP. He was a member of the Punch Line alongside fellow teammates Elmer Lach and Toe Blake. Heck, the league's trophy for the top goalscorer is named after him for a reason.
Richard's 1951 Parkhurst card is worth at least $600 today, but can go up to $15,000 if highly graded.