Alex Plante is a big kid (6-3.5, 225 according to ISS) who has a variety of skills. Although the choice caused quite a furor last night (Cherepanov AND Esposito being available had to have given the Oilers pause before selecting him) I don’t think the choice is the gloom and doom that it’s being made out to be on blogs/message boards.
The Oilers should have taken Cherepanov. Even if he never played for them, the “asset” would have had more value (and quicker return) than young Plante. It reminds me of the Mel Kiper quote about the New York Jets years ago (“this pick once again proves the New York Jets don’t know how to draft”) in that not factoring in a falling impact prospect (especially a forward) is going to leave you (correctly) exposed. The chances of this biting the Oilers in the ass is huge, although one suspects the people at the Edmonton draft table will be long gone by the time Plante helps his NHL team win games at the highest level.
However, let’s deal with the player (not his fault they took him at 15).
Redline: Alex Plante has come a long way since the beginning of the season. At 6-4/215-pounds, he showed surprising offensive skills, particularly on the PP, where he can act as either trigger man or quarterback. He’s not a big baggage smasher, but will use his body in front and to tie forwards up along the walls.
ISS: Great size, not afraid of rough stuff. Has improved speed, good first pass, rarely gets beaten one on one. Pro size with hockey sense. A good defender who could play in all situations. Without a doubt one of the biggest draft wildcards. The number one attraction of this player is his combination of outstanding size and skill. He is blessed with a genetic gift and a relatively high level of skating and puck skill for a player this big. Plante is an intense player who is mean and not afraid of playing along the boards or competing physically. He has a good stride and his agility is improving. This has led to a definite improvement in his overall play and a climb up our rankings.
In terms of where he ranks on the Oilers prospect list, I’d say the top 10 looks like this:
- Sam Gagner
- Slava Trukhno
- Andrew Cogliano
- Tom Gilbert
- Rob Schremp
- Taylor Chorney
- Devan Dubnyk
- Ryan O’Marra
- Alex Plante
- Denis Grebeshkov
That’s the way it looks to me right now (I reserve the right to change this when getting around to posting a new top 20). Cherepanov would have been right at the top, #1 or #2.
One final note: Plante is an 1989 (May) meaning he’s 9 months younger than, say, Alzner. We sometimes overlook that kind of thing. Also, Plante rocketed up the charts this season (he was #66 on ISS’s list in October and ended at #27).