1997-98 SP Authentic #186 Zdeno Chara
PSA Gem Mint 10: 13 (13%) BGS Gem Mint 9.5: 11 (29%) BGS Pristine 10: 0 (0%)
Speaking of longevity, the ageless Chara (alright, he’s 44) recently passed Scott Stevens for the second-most games played all-time among defensemen (1,636). If he stays healthy, Chris Chelios’ record of 1,651 games will fall around the time this issue hits the stands.
Of course, the tallest man in NHL history is beloved by collectors for more than just hanging around. Chara ranks among the very best players of his generation and is an absolute lock as a first-ballot Hall of Famer. The captain of the 2011 Stanley Cup champion Bruins won one Norris Trophy and was a top-five finisher eight times to go along with seven seasonending All-Star selections. His place in the firmament of hockey’s stars is secure.
That’s a long way from when he was drafted as a project by the Islanders in the third round back in 1996. He only appeared on this one RC the following season, and it turned out to be a gem-killer with just 24 copies earning the grade. Like most cards on this list, the foil substrate severely limits the potential of most cards, with small chips and dings dropping them out of contention. At this point, a quarter-century a er its release, the current population may be all that we ever see.