Whether you’re a sports fan or not, for better or for worse you probably have one in your family or close friend group. Sports fanaticism is a disease that affects us all one way or another.
As we reach the part of the year where gifts are often exchanged, a jersey can be an absolute hit or an embarrassing (and expensive) miss. If you decide to go that route you’re traversing a minefield, so we’re here to help you out with a little pseudo-science.
In order to solve that conundrum we’ve put together a definitive ranking of the 15 best Canadian sports jerseys you can buy this season judged on the following categories:
Age: This is mainly a proxy for the player’s distance to retirement and the way their career is trending.
Contract Status: No matter how brightly a star shines, it’s hard to commit to a jersey when he’s liable to skip town in the next couple of years.
Lasting Power: Will this jersey hold up? Some will always be fashionable like Daniel Alfredsson or Mats Sundin – nabbing one of those is ideal.
Trade Risk: Even if someone is under contract, a trade rendering his jersey obsolete could be imminent.
Performance Risk: It might be exciting to go for a sparkling up-and-comer, but if they turn into a pumpkin so does your jersey.
Star Power: The bigger the star the safer the jersey
One bonus point will also be awarded for being Canadian and only active players on Canadian teams qualify.
So without further ado here’s the list:
Important note: Because the CFL is an entire league it was omitted here as there’s too much to cover and it represents a disproportionate percentage of Canadian sports teams.
T-13 Mitch Marner (22 points)
Much like Leon Draisaitl, but without the same contract assurances and carrying a small risk that the Maple Leafs do something stupid like deal him for a defenceman. A good choice for fans of “local boy makes good” narratives.
T-13 Josh Donaldson (22 points)
If there were more certainty about Donaldson’s future with the Blue Jays he’d rocket to the top of the list. As it is he’s most likely to stay with the team for just one more year and could be gone as soon as July if the Blue Jays have a rough first half.
This jersey is always going to be a good one, but it can’t be a chart topper if the man in question might be wearing a different one in less than a year.
T-13. Jaromir Jagr (22 points)
How you feel about Jagr’s inclusion here depends on how seriously you take your jerseys. This is more of a whimsical choice as Jagr is hardly tearing it up in Calgary and he will under no circumstances be remembered as a Flame.
That said, this will always be a fun one to own from a collector’s perspective, much like a Ricky Williams Toronto Argonauts jersey. The fact this could be Jagr’s final stop adds to the appeal, as does the fact Calgary is the only Canadian city he’s ever played in. When it comes down to it, there’s never a bad time to wear a legend’s name on your back.
12. Leon Draisaitl (23 points)
It might be too early to know if Draisaitl will be an all-time Oilers great or simply a talent offensive producer, but he’s young, good, has a fair contract, and isn’t going anywhere. That makes for a solid jersey investment.
T-10 Patrik Laine (24 points)
Laine is a bit of a roll of the dice because he’s been streaky and benefitted from really high shooting percentages, but it’s more likely than not that he’s going to be a star for a long time.
T-10 Kyle Lowry (24 points)
Lowry is hurt by his age and the associated decline risk, plus a contract that’s on the shorter end. Preferring him over DeMar DeRozan is perfectly valid, but he isn’t a part of the fabric of the franchise in quite the same way.
T-7 Mark Scheifele (25 points)
This name is another surprise, but the combination of age, contract status, established performance, and the Canadian bonus point puts him over the top. Scheifele is one of the NHL’s rising stars, he’s criminally underrated and makes for a good investment.
T-7 Sebastian Giovinco (25 points)
Giovinco isn’t guaranteed to be with Toronto FC for too much longer and he’s (just) on the wrong side of 30, but it’s hard to overstate what he’s done for the franchise. This jersey is always going to be a good look for TFC supporters.
T-7 Marcus Stroman (25 points)
Stroman is a fan favourite in Toronto and the safest bet on an older Blue Jays team in transition. It would be comforting for jersey investors to see a long-term deal here, but he’s got basically everything else you’d want.
T-4 Johnny Gaudreau (26 points)
There are bigger names on this list, but “Johnny Hockey” combines youth with possession of a long-term deal that is so good the Calgary Flames will not move it. You buy this jersey and it’s going to stay relevant for years to come.
T-4 Erik Karlsson (26 points)
If we could be more sure Karlsson would be with the Ottawa Senators long term he would be even higher on this list. An under-appreciated superstar in his prime, Karlsson is worth your jersey dollars.
T-4 DeMar DeRozan (26 points)
There’s some discussion about DeRozan’s stature in the NBA overall, but among Raptors there’s no room for debate. The 28-year-old owns the team’s record book and he’s not done yet.
3. Carey Price (27 points)
Price’s struggles this year cost him a performance risk star and the fact he has so many Habs legends to compete with diminishes the lasting power of his jersey slightly. That’s nitpicking though, it’s hard to find a safer choice than this.
2. Auston Matthews (29 points)
Matthews doesn’t have the next guy’s speed or locked-in contract, but the latter is just a formality. That costs him one star in case something exceedingly unexpected happens, but this is the Maple Leafs jersey to own for the foreseeable future.
1. Connor McDavid (31 points)
So you’re saying there’s a good Canadian kid who’s 20 years old signed through 2026 and arguably already the best player in the game? That’ll play.