2021-22 Upper Deck Series 1 Young Guns: A Full Guide

The Young Guns series is the most popular subset for hockey collectors. After several delays to the 2021-22 Upper Deck Series 1 Hockey release, it is finally coming out. So how does the new crop of Young Guns measure up? To answer your question, we present the full guide To 2021-22 Upper Deck Series 1 Young Guns.

The Young Guns

Fans have complained that many of the strongest names among the rookie class are absent from the initial list of Young Guns. However, there is nothing unusual about this. Upper Deck likes to spread out their rookies more or less evenly between Series 1 and Series 2.

However, Upper Deck released 2020-21 Upper Deck Extended Series Hockey last year. This release functioned as a de facto Series 3 and featured 30 Young Guns. So it remains to be seen if Series 2 will be loaded with solid rookies or if there will be three watered-down sets this season.

Tier 1 Of The 2021-22 Upper Deck Series 1 Hockey Young Guns

Cole Caufield – Right Wing – Montreal Canadiens

Cole is simply a goal-scoring machine. He netted 49 times in 67 games at the University of Wisconsin and has scored 4 in his first ten NHL appearances. The right wing killer is one of those small, energetic attackers that seem uncontainable, no matter how larger the opposition. So why is he such a deadly scorer? Cole’s shot is as powerful as it is accurate. A remarkable and rare combination. While there are some doubts regarding his defensive capabilities, Caufield is certainly the chase of this group by a mile. Keep in mind that the Montreal hockey market is a very strong one (they love the game up there), so he is a strong collecting bet in this regard as well.

Cole Caufield is the first one the checklist. But is he the top rookie?

Jamie Drysdale – Defence – Anaheim Ducks

Don’t let his defensive position fool you; Drysdale is a menacing offensive player. As an integral part of the Canadian Juniors team that won gold and silver in the 2020 and 2021 World Junior Championships, respectively. In the 2020-21 season, Jamie played regularly for the Anaheim Ducks and was undoubtedly destined for great things. Scout David Gregory opined, “Drysdale is the kind of player that every team is looking for, very smart puck-moving defenseman who can beat you with his vision, beat you with his hockey sense, able to use that great quickness and thinking.” This year, Jamie is the best among the Young Guns and is a no-brainer investment.

Tanner Jeannot – Left wing – Nashville Predators

Tanner was undrafted and did not have the right pedigree. But that didn’t stop him from enjoying an absolutely explosive rookie season. His 28 points in 47 games for the Predators show that Jeannot has what it takes at the top level, pedigree be damned. In addition, his phenomenal performance for the Chicago Wolves in the AHL last year shows clearly that this form is no fluke.

Spencer Knight – Goaltender – Florida Panthers

The 13th overall pick in the 2019 draft is clearly considered the goalie of the future by the Panthers. We can see why. He was the starter for the US at the 2021 World Juniors Championship, where he won gold. His most notable performance there was in the 2-0 shutout of Canada. However, the skies have not been completely clear for Spencer. His save percentage has plummeted, and A series of poor performances have rattled Knight’s confidence. Still, Spencer is only 20 and has every chance of being a top-tier goalie.

Trevor Zegras – Centre – Anaheim Ducks

Trevor is probably the strongest prospect amongst the Series 1 Young Guns. However, his mobility is already notorious, and Zegras can turn the game on its head with a single play. If that wasn’t enough, Trevor is equally adept at playmaking and finishing and is therefore almost impossible to contain. Finally, he is a gifted defender as well. While with most of the players here, we are discussing their achievements in the AHL, college, or juniors (and Trevor has credentials in all of those), this guy is already an accomplished NHL player. In 66 games for the Anaheim Ducks, Zegras has amassed 15 goals and 30 assists for a grand total of 45 points. He seems destined for stardom.

To Most observers, Trevor Zegras is the best investment of the bunch.

Rasmus Kupari – Centre – Los Angeles Kings

Though Rasmus is not one of the biggest names among the Young Guns, he has terrific upside and few notable flaws. The centre was an essential part of two title-winning Finnish teams, the 2018 under-18 World Juniors Champions and the 2019 World Juniors Champions, respectively. He has also had a successful AHL and two excellent Finnish Liiga seasons, despite being only 21 years of age. With so much potential, it is no surprise that the Kings are already working him into their rotation.

Cam York – Defense – Philadelphia Flyers
Like Rasmus, Cam is a young player with many achievements and one foot in the NHL door at 21. His pedigree is impressive. Cam set the all-time scoring record for a defenseman in U18 Men’s World Championships in 2019 and was instrumental in the US World Juniors Championship title last year. Drafted 14th overall in the 2019 NHL Draft, the Flyers wasted no time bringing the prospect into the fray. Philadelphia clearly believes in the youngster, and so do we.

Shane Pinto – Centre – Ottawa Senators

Pinto probably deserves more hype than he is getting. While never getting the raves from scouts that some tier 1 players get, Pinto outdoes most of them in terms of effective performance. His performance at the 2020 World Juniors Championship is a case in point. Shane scored 4 points and passed for 3 assists for the underperforming USA. In two years at the University of North Dakota, he notched 60 points in 61 games. At age 21, he already has 17 appearances and 8 points for the Senators. Pinto produces and is ready to be an elite NHL player.

Tier 2 Of The 2021-22 Upper Deck Series 1 Hockey Young Guns

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen – Goaltender – Buffalo Sabres

Luukonen is a known quantity, primarily due to his excellent performances for the Finnish junior teams. He has two gold medals and one silver as a junior and was so instrumental to these campaigns that in the 2019 World Junior Championships, he was selected goaltender of the tournament by the media. Ukko-Pekka experienced some rough patches with the Rochester Americans in the AHL but has bounced back for the Sabres. So, we are relatively sure that Ukko-Pekka will be an excellent NHL goalie. It also helps that Buffalo doesn’t have anyone to compete with him for the position. However, since goalie cards are usually not as valuable as offensive players, I can’t in good conscience place the Finnish wonder in the top-tier.

Joe Veleno – Centre – Detroit Red Wings
Joe was a precocious talent, granted “exceptional status,” which allowed him to play as a 15-year old in major junior hockey. He has not quite lived up to that level of promise but has remained a solid player drafted 30th in 2018. There is still enough talent there to allow Veleno to become a star at some point. The Red Wings are also in the midst of rebuilding, so Joe should get a fair opportunity to play an important role.

Morgan Barron – Centre – New York Rangers

Like some of the other Rangers prospects, Barron does not appear likely to break into the starting lineup for the team. However, he was a monster player both for Cornell and the Hartford Wolf Pack in the AHL. His 21 points in 21 games for Hartford are particularly impressive. Therefore, a trade or injury may give Morgan the opportunity he needs to shine.

Brinson Pasichnuk – Defence – San Jose Sharks

Sure, at 24, Brinson is a bit older than you want a Young Gun to be. However, his college career was far too strong to ignore. In 136 games for Arizona State University, Pasichnuk notched 107 points. Injuries have kept him off the ice this year, but the quality is there.

Arttu Ruotsalainen – Forward – Buffalo Sabres

The 24-year-old Finn has been a fixture for his national team at all levels and played an essential part in the 2nd place World Championship team in 2021. Arttu has played quite a bit for the Sabres this year but has not been as effective as expected.

Ross Colton – Centre – Tampa Bay Lightning

At 25, Ross is breaking into the Lighting team and has made an impact in both the 2020-21 and the current campaigns. His most memorable moment came in game 5 when Colton’s goal clinched the Stanley Cup for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Colton has always been an impact player, whether at the University of Vermont or the AHL. I expect great things from the New Jersey native. However, his age stops him from being a blue-chip prospect.

Jeremy Swayman – Goaltender – Boston Bruins

No one doubts Jeremy’s capabilities. The Alaskan started for the US in the 2018 World Juniors Championship and won numerous honors, including the Hockey East All-Rookie Team and winning Hockey East Player of the Year in 2020. However, he was recently sent down to the minors due to the intense competition for the position in Boston. Nonetheless, Jeremy has a bright future ahead.

Jeremy Swayman may be the Bruins goalie of the future. But he faces a tough road ahead.

Calen Addison – Defence – Minnesota Wild

At 21 years of age, Calen has the youth factor going for him. However, the Manitoban has also displayed an impressive versatility, excelling equally at both ends. Although he was not drafted all that high (53rd overall in the 2018 draft), Calen has an impressive pedigree. He played for the title-winning Canadian team at the World Juniors Championship and was wildly successful for Iowa in the AHL.

Mattias Samuelsson – Defence – Buffalo Sabres

This solid player was drafted 42nd in the 2018 NHL draft. While never considered a top-notch prospect, Samuelsson has played for the US at several levels and performed respectably in college and the AHL. Mattias hasn’t exactly set the NHL ablaze yet, but he is only 21.

Zac Jones – Defence – New York Rangers

As a 68th pick in the draft, Jones is not considered a top Young Gun. However, I believe he is more upside than most analysts would have you believe. His excellent performance for UMass-Amhurst and contributions to the US Juniors World Champion team of 2018 speak to solid potential. Furthering his case, Zac is only 21 and already playing regularly for a strong NHL team.

Tanner Laczynski – Centre – Philadelphia Flyers

Tanner has potential and played a role in the World Juniors Championship gold of 2017. However, there has not been as much follow-through as we would like to see. So far, he has yet to score a goal for the Flyers.

Alex Barré-Boulet – Centre – Tampa Bay Lightning

The Lightning has a stellar record at producing top-notch talent, and some observers believe Barré-Boulet is the next high-quality product of their conveyer belt. He had a monster record for the Syracuse Crunch in the AHL and made the league All-Star Game in 2020. So far, in 31 appearances for the Lightning, he has notched 9 points and appears poised to play a bigger role there. The downside? He is already 24 and has yet to really shine in top-level competition.

Kole Lind – Right Wing – Seattle Kraken

Kole is a reasonably talented player, drafted 33rd by the Canucks. He showed some real potential at the AHL Utica Comets recently. One element working intensely in Lind’s favor is that Seattle needs Kole’s help immediately as an expansion team. So he will be allowed to blossom.

Kole Lind will get plenty of breathing room to develop in Seattle. Look for his autos on eBay.

Tier 3 Of The 2021-22 Upper Deck Series 1 Hockey Young Guns

Dakota Joshua – Center – St. Louis Blues

The 128th pick of the 2014 draft may end up as an NHL starter. However, he is not expected to impact the hobby significantly.

Kyle Burroughs – Defence – Colorado Avalanche

Kyle is an inspiring story. First, he knocked around the minor leagues for years after being selected 196th by the Islanders in the 2013 draft. Then, refusing to give up his dream of playing in the NHL, he toughed it out and made the Avalanche, where he seems set to stake out a starting berth. Nonetheless, with limited upside and a late start, Burroughs is not the most robust investment.

Tarmo Reunanen – Defence- New York Rangers

The Finnish player is talented but seems unlikely to break into the robust New York Rangers lineup anytime soon. He does not appear to have the physicality or defensive wherewithal to excel at the highest levels truly.

Wade Allison – Right wing – Philadelphia Flyers

Wade was no blue-chip prospect and was selected 52nd overall in the 2016 draft. But the scrappy player has undoubtedly proven effective, scoring 4 goals in 14 appearances for the Flyers. Unfortunately, despite his quality, we don’t see him becoming a star.

Wyatt Kalynuk – Defence – Chicago Blackhawks

Another example of a late bloomer, closing in on 25 now. Wyatt is starting to really step up for the Blackhawks this year, with 9 points in 21 appearances. However, it is probably too little too late for a tangible impact on the hobby.

Garrett Pilon – Centre- Washington Capitals

Garrett is talented and may well be a starter. A star, though? Not very likely.

Radim Zohorna – Forward – Pittsburgh Penguins

The big Czech has plenty of talent, and it has come to the fore in his early performances with the Penguins. His 6 points in 16 games indicate good things to come. However, Radim is about to turn 26, so his upside is limited.

Jack Ahcan – Defence – Boston Bruins

Another older player who has managed to break into the pros. Unlike some others in this category, Ahcan has an impressive pedigree. He played for the 2017 US World Junior team that won gold and was selected to the NCHC All-Rookie Team in 2017. Still, his light has dimmed since, and Jack does not appear poised on the verge of stardom.

Joshua Dunne – Centre – Columbus Blue Jackets

Though undrafted, Joshua broke into the NHL earlier than expected and is fighting for a spot at age 23. While Dunne is proving to be a valuable player, he does not appear to have a very high ceiling.

Logan Thompson – Goaltender – Vegas Golden Knights

The 24-year-old from Calgary could go either way. He may end up a starting goalie or a permanent backup. At this point, it is tough to tell.

Filip Gustavsson – Goaltender – Ottawa Senators

Filip has regressed somewhat this year after showing good form last season. Nevertheless, he remains a solid contender to be the Senators’ regular goalie in the future. However, he probably does not have the quality to be a major star in the league.

Jeffrey Viel – Winger – San Jose Sharks
Though Jeffrey is a fan favorite for San Jose, there are a lot of red flags regarding his viability. Viel was undrafted and has not taken off in the NHL. He is also 25, so I don’t see the upside.

Lane Pederson – Centre – Arizona Coyotes

Lane had a tremendous record in the AHL for the Tucson Roadrunners. However, the Coyotes must have had their reservations about the undrafted Canadian because they did not call him up for four years. Now that he has made the leap, Pederson has been underwhelming, so I have my doubts about him.

Marc Michaelis – Forward – Vancouver Canucks

Marc absolutely killed it for Minnesota State University, averaging over a point per game in his two best seasons. The German was All-WCHA First Team in all his years at the school and even made AHCA West First-Team All-American in 2019-20. However, Michaelis is now 26 and has yet to translate that form into NHL excellence.

Jackson Cates – Defence – Philadelphia Flyers

Cates had a strong enough college career to warrant consideration as a possible breakout player. However, his form in the NHL so far has been uninspiring.

Tyce Thompson – Centre – New Jersey Devils

Tyce is part of a proud hockey family and has inherited plenty of the family talent. Though I certainly see him as a future NHL regular, his upside is not high enough for stardom.

Tyce Thompson has plenty of family pedigree, but does he have what it takes? Look for his autos on eBay.

Parker Kelly – Centre – Ottawa Senators

Parker was promoted rapidly through the ranks by the Senators, so they clearly believe in the guy. Indeed, his performances everywhere, including the NHL, have been solid. Unfortunately, however, there have been no signs of stardom from the Albertan.

Matt Kiersted – Defence – Florida Panthers

Matt was undrafted, but his increasingly strong form for the University of North Dakota convinced the Panthers to take a chance on the player. So far, he has not been particularly effective, but the 23-year-old does have some upside.

Jacob Bryson – Defence – Buffalo Sabres

Jacob has established himself in Buffalo and has already played 75 games for Buffalo with 15 points to show for it. He certainly seems ready for a productive NHL career. However, I just don’t see any star quality here.

Tier 4 Of The 2021-22 Upper Deck Series 1 Hockey Young Guns

Olle Alsing – Defence – Ottawa Senators

Olle is a defender and is not considered a particularly promising talent.

Mike Hardman – Left wing – Chicago Blackhawks

Mike is having some trouble acclimating to the NHL and was recently reassigned to the AHL Rockford IceHogs. The demotion was another in a series of signs that Hardman is not a top-level prospect.

Marian Studenic – Right wing – New Jersey Devils

The Slovakian has been relatively disappointing for the Devils so far. Since January, he has barely played and is likely to be demoted soon. Needless to say, none of this bodes well for his NHL future.

Keaton Middleton – Defence – Colorado Avalanche

The 24-year-old from Edmonton has limited offensive capabilities and may struggle to be a regular NHL starter.

Simon Benoit – Defence – Anaheim Ducks

An undrafted player who has not been particularly impressive in the NHL thus far. The upside does not seem to be there.

Daniel Walcott – Defence/Forward – Tampa Bay Lightning

A talented player, but Daniel took far too long to mature. It is hard to see him being a significant player in the hobby.

Michael Houser – Golatender – Buffalo Sabres

We love Michael because he stuck to his guns through years in the ECHL and the AHL before finally making the pros. However, Houser is 29 and has little prospective hobby value.

Joey Keane – Defence – Carolina Hurricanes
Respectable talent and only 22 years old. However, Keane does not have that top-grade upside and faces too much competition for a first-team spot.

Is there an Auston Matthews in this bunch? Look for his Young Guns on eBay.

Bottomline Of The Guide To The 2021-22 Upper Deck Series 1 Young Guns

Many hockey fans have complained that the Young Guns list for Series 1 is somewhat lacking. Indeed, many of the biggest names were held over for Series 2 and possibly for further Upper Deck releases as well.

However, there are several strong prospects in this release. The number of young players with significant pedigree and upside is considerable. So, while this is not a historically strong crop, there is plenty to chase here.

Full Young Guns List

201 Cole Caufield – Montreal Canadiens
202 Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen – Buffalo Sabres
203 Olle Alsing – Ottawa Senators
204 Dakota Joshua – St. Louis Blues
205 Jamie Drysdale – Anaheim Ducks
206 Kyle Burroughs – Colorado Avalanche
207 Tarmo Reunanen – New York Rangers
208 Mike Hardman – Chicago Blackhawks
209 Wade Allison – Philadelphia Flyers
210 Marian Studenic – New Jersey Devils
211 Keaton Middleton – Colorado Avalanche
212 Joe Veleno – Detroit Red Wings
213 Wyatt Kalynuk – Chicago Blackhawks
214 Garrett Pilon – Washington Capitals
215 Morgan Barron – New York Rangers
216 Radim Zohorna – Pittsburgh Penguins
217 Jack Ahcan – Boston Bruins
218 Joshua Dunne – Columbus Blue Jackets
219 Logan Thompson – Vegas Golden Knights
220 Brinson Pasichnuk – San Jose Sharks
221 Arttu Ruotsalainen – Buffalo Sabres
222 Tanner Jeannot – Nashville Predators
223 Spencer Knight – Florida Panthers
224 Ross Colton – Tampa Bay Lightning
225 Filip Gustavsson – Ottawa Senators

226 Jeremy Swayman – Boston Bruins
227 Calen Addison – Minnesota Wild
228 Simon Benoit – Anaheim Ducks
229 Daniel Walcott – Tampa Bay Lightning
230 Mattias Samuelsson – Buffalo Sabres
231 Zac Jones – New York Rangers
232 Trevor Zegras – Anaheim Ducks
233 Jeffrey Viel – San Jose Sharks
234 Lane Pederson – Arizona Coyotes
235 Marc Michaelis – Vancouver Canucks
236 Tanner Laczynski – Philadelphia Flyers
237 Jeremy Davies – Nashville Predators
238 Jackson Cates – Philadelphia Flyers
239 Tyce Thompson – New Jersey Devils
240 Parker Kelly – Ottawa Senators
241 Alex Barré-Boulet – Tampa Bay Lightning
242 Rasmus Kupari – Los Angeles Kings
243 Cam York – Philadelphia Flyers
244 Matt Kiersted – Florida Panthers
245 Michael Houser – Buffalo Sabres
246 Shane Pinto – Ottawa Senators
247 Kole Lind – Vancouver Canucks
248 Jacob Bryson – Buffalo Sabres
249 Joey Keane – Carolina Hurricanes
250 Cole Caufield/Trevor Zegras CL

 

Shaiel Ben-Ephraim

Shaiel Ben-Ephraim

Shaiel Ben-Ephraim is a former history and political science professor at UCLA. He has a PhD from the University of Calgary. Shai also worked as a diplomat and journalist on three continents.