It’s an interesting question: What is the hockey card collectors love most? It’s a moving target, since people target different cards for their tastes. You might as well ask them to name their favorite their favorite flavor of ice cream or their favorite book or author – what with the huge variety out there. It depends on the type of collector that you are talking to, since they also run the gamut from having the best, most expensive collection out there, sparing no expense in terms of what they get – ranging from a Wayne Gretzky rookie card to a Georges Vezina tobacco card to a Bobby Orr rookie card to the budget collector who might gaze longingly at their Grant Fuhr rookie card while hoping that someday they might cobble together enough money to pick up a Patrick Roy rookie card that they would keep under lock and key.
If you’re a person who likes to collect cards of players from a more recent era, a Alex Ovechkin or Sidney Crosby rookie card would be right up your alley. If you’re a person who likes to collect goalie cards, then the best card to go after would be a Ken Dryden rookie card, since he’s considered to be one of the best goalies ever, or you might want to go even older and see if you can get a Jacques Plante card.
The wonderful thing is that there’s no exact same answer for any one collector. Variety is what collectors like about this hobby and it's one where anyone can get involved. You can buy a common hockey card--even an old one--for less than a buck. Or you can invest thousands in the best of the best.
If you were to poll 100 collectors, you might get 100 different answers as to what might be their favorite card or set. To get an idea of what might be popular out there, just look here to see the most watched hockey cards on eBay.
You may also have a particular brand that you like: O-Pee- Chee, Topps, Upper Deck. It’s all up to the individual collector. The one thing all of us insist upon is authenticity and that's why buying graded and authenticated vintage hockey cards is the most important thing to remember if you're building a collection.
Even though it’s an individual taste thing, hopefully this answered your question about what hockey card collectors love most.