The NHL is moving into the digital world, one step at a time.
The NHL and NHLPA announced on Monday morning that the two organizations had each reached extensions with the Upper Deck Trading Card company to remain as the exclusive licensed manufacturer of both physical trading cards, and, perhaps more interestingly, NFTs.
These agreements continue to solidify a partnership between Upper Deck and the league that recently celebrated its 30th anniversary, beginning in 1990-91.
This move is a notable one, contrasting what has happened elsewhere in the sports world with collectibles company Fanatics officially taking over the exclusive manufacturing rights for both MLB and NBA trading cards from well-known brand Topps in August of 2021.
Fanatics currently holds a merchandising partnership with the NHL of its own, one that began in 2016, so to see the league not follow along with its sporting counterparts and expand its relationship with Fanatics is somewhat surprising.
The NHL also announced that Upper Deck will be launching its own NFT platform, titled Evolution, in the winter. Evolution will provide fans a space to buy and trade exclusive NHL-branded NFTs with each other, creating a secondary market that will allow for greater fan access.
NHL and NHLPA-branded NFTs are expected to be available on Evolution in the near future.