#5 Prospect Winter 2008: Alexandre Plante

Current Rank #5
Summer Rank #20

There are multiple reasons for Alex Plante rocketing up the prospect charts like’s he ‘s Elton John and it’s 1975: Plante has played extremely well at EVs, he’s back on track as a prospect (his #20 ranking was based on a lost season) and all of the other contenders have had poor or uneven starts to their 08-09 season.

Let’s start way back at the season that got him drafted in the first round, ahead of #1 overall prospect Riley Nash (among others).

Redline report are the hardest markers and going into the draft had this to say: 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.

And they were saying it about this season:

  • 58gp, 8-30-38 .655 (Boxcar)
  • 58gp, 6-21-27 .466 (powerplay)
  • 58gp, 2-9-11 .190 (even strength)

After getting drafted, Plante came to rookie camp (before the big camp, it was the one up north) and hurt himself fall 2007. That injury (and a later concussion) had a major impact on his season and possibly on his career. It got so bad that (even though he was a mid-1st rder) Plante was scratched on a very good (and very deep) Hitmen team a few times in 07-08 and didn’t see the powerplay much:

  • 36gp, 1-1-2 .056 (Boxcar)
  • 36gp, 0-0-0 .000 (powerplay)
  • 36gp, 1-1-2 .056 (even strength)

So, aside from the injuries and the times he was a HS, Plante was also no longer seeing the powerplay which is the exact place he gathered over 70% of his offense in the previous season.

In the summer, I wrote “A high pick who had a lost season. Part of it may be that Plante’s draft clippings may have been out of sync with his actual skill set. By that I mean that if he isn’t on the powerplay the offensive numbers aren’t going to be there.” A one-dimensional junior defenseman is far less valuable than a guy who can impact the game at even strength, so my feeling about Plante was that we could be looking at a giant MA Bergeron. With skating issues. Looking back, the #20 ranking was probably generous based on performance.

This past summer became something of a soap opera, as Plante requested a trade and (for a time) indicated he would not return to the Hitmen. Calgary coach Kelly Kisio: “You sit back and scratch your head and wonder what you have to do to make kids happy. We played him with Karl Alzner so he could have a big draft year, then he gets hurt and has trouble getting back into game shape and we’re getting blamed for it.”

Eventually calmer heads prevailed in the Plante camp and he arrived in good shape and got early results (a point in each of his first 4 games after which he was +5). Plante is having a very nice season in all areas. His plus minus number (+13) ranks him third on the team (among the blue) and his numbers are coming from EV play:

  • 27gp, 3-13-16 .593 (boxcar)
  • 27gp, 2-3-5 .185 (powerplay)
  • 27gp, 1-10-11 .407 (even strength)

Plante’s getting his offense on EVs this season which has to be viewed as a positive. If he were getting 06-07 powerplay minutes Plante would be approaching a point-per-game so far this season. The reports I’ve read have him playing a more consistent game without the puck and improving on problem areas (lateral) in regard to skating.

It’s been a year of maturing already for Alex Plante. Kevin Prendergast: “We talked to Alex when he was here with us and told him it was either his ego or his career. He had to make a decision about what was more important.” Even more impressive than returning to Hitmen camp and establishing himself as part of the team have been the results he’s getting in what was previously an average to below average area (EV scoring).

Plante is 19. Kids who are taken in the first round should be dominating junior at that age. He lost a season to injury and circumstance but this comeback season should be given some due. He’s probably learned a lot, matured a lot and is likely a better bet today than he was that afternoon at the 2007 draft.

Alex Plante looks like he has a bright career, and for that reason moves all the way up from #20 to his rightful place among the other first rounders and overachievers.

A clear indicator of his value comes from Calgary coach Dave Lowry (courtesy Calgary Herald, Oct 29) “Understand one thing,” said Lowry, after Plante was named one of the club’s assistant captains Tuesday morning. “What was said at the beginning of the year, we sat down and talked about it. “Alex has been a very important player on our hockey team. He’s one of the more vocal guys in the dressing room and the length of service he’s given to this organization — he deserved (the letter).”

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47 Responses to "#5 Prospect Winter 2008: Alexandre Plante"

  1. Black Dog says:

    that has to be the record jump for a prospect

    poor Petry – he had a bad week, was fourth and now he’s stepped into the elevator shaft ;)

  2. Lowetide says:

    BD: lol. Yeah Petry slid a little, that mistake I made was a pretty big one.

    This list is going to be a little all over the place. Chorney is struggling, Petry is underperforming a little and Wild is playing well but getting healthy scratched enough to make me wonder.

    And there’s more! Dubnyk was a lock to move up but has struggled, Vande Velde had all kinds of positives entering the season but is off in terms of points and they scored 10 against the Kennedy’s last night and he didn’t get anything. Incredible.

    The players who HAVE performed very well this season (Cornett, Kytnar, Omark, Perugini) weren’t highly ranked in the summer.

    Guys like Reddox are “okay” but haven’t set the world on fire, and Lerg looks terrific but was so good they sent him to the ECHL.

    Weird year.

  3. HBomb says:

    Forget Alex Plante Lowetide…..isn’t the really important item for discussion the fact that Dave Nonis has been hired as senior VP of hockey ops by the Leafs?

    Lord knows this pretty much secures that they’re on the road to the Stanley in three seasons tops, since God now has Jesus at his side.

    (End sarcasm).

  4. Lowetide says:

    Oh, Toronto. I see Burke speaking to the media about who he’s going to deliver a bullet to, he said last night that his bottom 6 forwards need to be bigger. To my eye those are warning bells for Dominic Moore (who has become a fairly useful player) John Mitchell, that Kulemin kid. Jason Blake is untradeable I assume.

    The #1 target for other GMs should be Kaberle. He’s a beauty.

  5. St George says:

    I live in Seattle and the Hitmen are in town tomorrow. Taking the kids – looking forward to seeing Mr. Plante in person.

  6. Black Dog says:

    If Burke is going to get rid of Moore he’s a guy the Oilers should look at.

    Fast, PK, faceoffs, plays hard, chips in some offence and he’d come cheap.

    They always say guys are tradeable but I can’t see anyone taking Blake.

    Kaberle hasn’t been the same since Janssen dinged him but he is still ~ 50 point dman.

    He’s a nice player and I think a change of scenery is coming for him and will help him. Likely Kubina is a goner too.

    They would have had Carter for him last year if he had waived his NTC, apparently. Kaberle that is.

  7. Scott says:

    LT,

    First and foremost, these are great reports. I love em’.

    How good is the EV number Plante is putting up? I know that he has matured both as a person and as a player, but that is a pretty hefty jump up the rankings. I’m most curious to see what you’re going to say about Omark. Every time I’ve read one of these since Eberle I’ve figured he was next and he still hasn’t come, so I’m thinking I must not be seeing some of the faults.

    Good stuff though LT. Much appreciated.

  8. Lowetide says:

    Scott: Omark’s problems are two-fold: size and speed.

  9. Coach pb9617 says:

    LT – Comps on Plante?

  10. Lowetide says:

    coach: He’s a strange one. Plante has terrific size and can move bodies, but it’s his offense that is intriguing.

    My own guess is that we should look for a player from the past who was:

    1. a raw talent
    2. physical tools didn’t reflect abilities (big man, skill)
    3. took time to reach full potential

    As a guess? Karl Dykhuis or for old timey guys like me someone like Pat Price (although Price was an impact junior).

  11. HBomb says:

    Lowetide: Could Eric Brewer be an Alex Plante comp?

    Or does Plante already have Brewer licked when it comes to offensive ability?

    Karl Dykhuis….still a guy that would make it onto any “top ten hockey names” list. My current favorite would have to be Cal Clutterbuck however….

  12. Schitzo says:

    Tom Poti?

  13. Lowetide says:

    I think Brewer’s ability to close a gap makes him superior, I’ve never read that about Plante lol.

    Offensively, their 17-year old junior seasons run through Desjardins NHLE:

    Brewer 2-8-10
    Plante 3-15-18

    Considering Alzner played on the same pairing and Plante had lots of PP points, I’d say they probably are in the range as comps offensively.

  14. Lowetide says:

    schitzo: I think the closest thing to Poti in the organization is probably Taylor Chorney.

  15. Schitzo says:

    LT – fair enough, I was looking more at the “he’s 6’3″ and doesn’t like to hit” angle.

  16. PunjabiOil says:

    To be honest, I’m not really excited about Plante. Didn’t like the pick because Kevin Lowe went, by his own admission, with ”team needs” rather than the best player approach.

    Yeah his numbers have improved, but he’s playing on a team that’s 25-4-1. All eye witness ”saw him good” scouts have not been really impressed with him, and question whether he’ll carve a career in the NHL.

    I think ti’s a fair assessment to consider whether the Oilers should take the 45th compensatory pick in 2009. If they believe they can get an upgrade at 45, why not?

  17. honkey says:

    Well you can look at Omarks size all you want, but even guys like Timander or Kenny Jönsson which are quality defenseman can’t take the puck from him without taking a penalty.

  18. Showerhead says:

    So is Brule a prospect? Or do you have a special ranking system for reclamation projects? :)

  19. Doogie2K says:

    I’d love to say, “I told you so,” but let’s not go there. ;)

    Plante’s speed really has improved over last year, to the point where I’ve actually seen him win races where I don’t think you’d have seen that in previous years. I don’t mind the fact that he doesn’t go for the Big Hit: there are plenty of other Hitmen players and defenders who can do that, and a quiet ride-out is sometimes the better option. His decision-making can be off at times (I remember a 2-on-1 when he could’ve taken the pass or the shot, and did neither, and wound up standing there looking silly as the puck went into the net), but no more so than the average 19yo D. I’m not sure why he doesn’t get more PP time, but there’s turned out to be quite a few options on the point, and the PP’s clicking at 30.1% (tops in the league), so I can’t complain too loudly. And the funny thing is that while he seldom goes for the loud bang, he’s second on the team in PIMs, thanks to a large number of fights, especially early in the year.

    He’s probably a project in the AHL, because he will need to adapt that sort of game somewhat (and continue to get faster) in order to make it as a pro, but I think he could still be a second-pairing type of guy for a long while, which didn’t look especially likely after the lost year last year. Good on him for growing up and making the most of his second chance.

  20. Lowetide says:

    Doogie: Thanks for that, good stuff. I think Plante will take some time but defensemen normally do anyway (Chorney’s AHL start is an example).

    The thing I find interesting is that these numbers are at EV strength. I know Calgary is a powerhouse but they were scoring all over the place one year ago and Plante didn’t get a sniff.

    He’s heading in the right direction.

  21. Doogie2K says:

    To be fair regarding last year, you are right that it was a very deep team. I didn’t and still don’t get why Seabrook drew in for Plante, because he was a rhymes-with-Clutterbuck even with Alzner, but maybe Plante wasn’t working at it behind the scenes like he should’ve been. Not playing didn’t help, but if he’s not hitting the gym with any seriousness, well, I’m not playing him as the coach, either. And of course, as we saw with Stoli last year, sometimes concussions can knock you loopy well after you’re back in “game shape.”

    The Booster Club is still on his ass, mind you, but I guess you have to expect that when you demand a trade.

  22. Chris says:

    Plante is a big guy and if his game can translate to the NHL that’s a definite plus for the Oilers. We’ve all seen how Chara and CFP can use their reach and presence in front of the net to be effective defensively. Its not like we have an absense of defense prospects in the system at the moment, so there isn’t a rush for Plante to ‘make the leap’. If he can figure things out in a few seasons in the AHL and become an effective NHL player I’m content with that. While its nice for some players to take the Sidney Crosby/Patrick Kane “what’s the AHL?” route, there is nothing wrong with some of players taking the slower Detriot style route to the NHL.

  23. doritogrande says:

    Showerhead:

    If I remember correctly, LT sets a limit of 75 NHL games played as the “prospect” cutoff.

    Also, if you’re still wondering about that poisson distribution, I explained the UofM angle of it back towards the end of yesterday’s GDT.

  24. Coach pb9617 says:


    1. a raw talent
    2. physical tools didn’t reflect abilities (big man, skill)
    3. took time to reach full potential

    Zarley Zalapski?

  25. Schitzo says:

    PJO: Having seen this much of Plante, I think it would be a pretty big gamble to take a compensatory pick.

    In the 40-55 ballpark the oilers have drafted the following since 2001:

    Caron, Lynch, Greene, McDonald, Tesliuk, Petry.

    Granted 2009 is a pretty solid draft, but I’d have to assume Plante has at least a 25-30% shot of seeing the NHL some day. That’s no worse than the odds of pulling an NHLer with your compensatory pick.

  26. Doogie2K says:

    While its nice for some players to take the Sidney Crosby/Patrick Kane “what’s the AHL?” route, there is nothing wrong with some of players taking the slower Detriot style route to the NHL.

    I think that’s what you have to do with defencemen, as a general rule. You’ll have your Schenns and Doughtys who don’t look horribly out of place, but I would think that defenders, as a general rule, spend an extra year or two in the minors compared to forwards. I have no data to back that up — Has LT done a study of number of games a D spends in the A? I know he’s done F but I don’t remember any D. — but it makes sense to me.

  27. Lowetide says:

    Zalapski had a plus shot but couldn’t skate backwards worth a hoot. He was actually terrible at it. He could skate well in straight lines, though. He was also injured quite a bit, right?

    I’d say Plante won’t be close offensively but should be a more complete player.

  28. Lowetide says:

    doogie: I don’t think it’s been done that I’ve seen. I do know that even more defensive players like Jason Smith didn’t spend much time in the minors before being good enough to play in the NHL.

    The big problem for all these Oiler defense prospects will be injury. 5 years from now a list like Peckham, Plante, Chorney, Wild, Bisaillon and Petry will be impacted by injury in a pretty big way.

    As an aside, I’m writing the post on one of these defenders and am surprised that none of them are on track to beat Doug Lynch’s rookie season in the AHL:

    74gp, 11-25-36

    The closest so far is Bisaillon who is on track for 76gp, 13-17-30.

  29. hunter1909 says:

    I really liked Plante during a few Oilers rookie scrimmages I caught on the box.

    He’s really huge, like Pronger, and the puck seems to stick to him like a magnet. While obviously clumsy looking, he still seems to get the job done, which means he just might have what it takes to make it.

    Of course tonight there is even more to be excited about for Oiler fans: The chance to witness the debut goal by the greatest rookie they’ve seen since the dynasty.

    Schremp simply isn’t made like hoser Canadian farmboys. Think of Paul Newman’s portrayal of Fast Eddie in The Hustler, and you will get a more accurate idea of this crazy kid’s overall mindset.

    Fast Robbie is simply going to dominate games, and possesses a self-belief/confidence level so high that the shmucks running the 2008-09 Oilers quite simply, will never be able to understand it. It’s probably led to him being kept in the minors for longer than necessary, but, cest’ la vie on that one because now he’s staying up.

    What the management will understand along with the fans, and everyone else, is the most dominating American rookie since Modano tearing up the scoresheet.

    Just wanted to go on a limb now, to raise my public bet before the suckers all come running and drop the odds. That said, 3 points in 2 games ain’t exactly nothing to sniff at either.

    One of the very few things I know that I was practically born with is the ability to think the game of hockey. Schremp meets every and all expectations of a star player.

    I’ll officially stop going on about MacTavish in here, simply because fast Robbie’s now about to single-handedly elevate the team and save his job.

    Obviously no one can predict for certain whether or not he will score tonight. But let’s say three to five more games, and it’s a cert he will score. Twenty to finish the season, easy.

  30. Schitzo says:

    it’s a cert he will score. Twenty to finish the season, easy.

    I’ve reached the point where I can no longer tell trolling from genuine delusion.

  31. Lowetide says:

    hunter: What in hell are you talking about? Has there been a trade? Are you talking about Schremp?

    We’ve seen Schremp, he’s been up for a few games.

  32. Boondock says:

    What the management will understand along with the fans, and everyone else, is the most dominating American rookie since Modano tearing up the scoresheet.

    Hunter just made Patrick Kane cry again.

  33. Doogie2K says:

    I don’t think it’s been done that I’ve seen. I do know that even more defensive players like Jason Smith didn’t spend much time in the minors before being good enough to play in the NHL.

    Fair enough. It’s a long Christmas vacation coming up; might be worth checking out, though I’d need to think on where to start.

  34. spOILer says:

    Rob Schremp, who has mustered all of one goal against AHL opp so far this year, is going to score 20 in what? 58 NHL games?

    I don’t think so, Tim.

  35. jon k says:

    Hunter: Is there history of mental illness in your family?

    Your combined inflated sense of self-utility, and infatuation with a minor prospect who is making it to the show (maybe) at 22 suggests you should maybe go get a checkup. If you already have, get back on the meds.

    Seriously.

  36. Asiaoil says:

    A lot of bust predictions last year about Plante last season – but that was not very wise given his injuries and this mgmt team’s track record with dmen. He looks to be on track again and his off-season work seems to have paid off. A similar commitment to improving strength and skating every off-season is needed – but if he does that – kid may have a decent career in a 2nd pair guy king of way.

    LT – I didn’t get too excited about Dubnyk’s run through most of November because he has not proven to be consistent. He still could be a good NHLer – but at this point – elite is likely not in the cards which is a disappointment to me anyway.

  37. Asiaoil says:

    ….oh yeah about Chorney, Wild and Petry. Way too much hype about these guys and there still is – we will be lucky if one of them makes the NHL as a regular IMHO.

  38. PunjabiOil says:

    I have confidence in Petry and Chorney being NHLers. We’ll see though.

    I’m surprised AsiaOil stance on Dubnyk, considering he’s played well on an overall basis. He’s let in a greater number of goals lately, but it should be pointed out a considerable portion were let in 4 on 5.

  39. Asiaoil says:

    Hi PJO – yes I think Dubnyks ES save percentage is probably pretty good given that a substantial number of Springfield’s GA are of the PP variety (too lazy to go over to the AHL site and sort it out). That given – it’s his 3rd season as a pro and that “something special” that I though he had should have appeared consistently by now. Doesn’t mean that he can’t have “something good” but I don’t see a future as a consistent top 10 goalie down the line for him any more. It’s a performance based business and if you can show elite talent early then it’s very unlikely to pop out of nowhere mid-career.

  40. PunjabiOil says:

    AsiaOil: Fair points.

    That said, Dubnyk has demonstrated ability to have high end games that keep his team in it. Every so often though, he’ll have a stinker in which he’ll allow 5 or 6 goals that really hurts his numbers.

    Springfield’s PK is pretty poor, and given his tendancy to allow lots of goals 4 on 5, I wonder how his numbers would be if he played on a better team. His .909 SV % is certainly not bad (facing an average of 30.3 SOG), though not exceptional.

    And while it is his 3rd professional year, he didn’t get very many quality at-bats. He spent 1 year in the ECHL, and another as back-up of JDD. This is his first full year as a starter, and he’s performing reasonably well.

    Elite? Maybe not. Potential to get there? Some indications point towards yes.

    We could be doing worse; Leland Irving has a SV% of .858 in 9 games.

  41. Lowetide says:

    Asia: I’ve been looking at everything. Peckham’s suspension hurt, they have a young D, it’s always 5-on-3 in Springfield (good name for a porn flick) but at the end of the day (another good name for a porn flick) Dubnyk appears to be a hair better than JDD as a prospect.

    I agree. That is disappointing.

  42. Asiaoil says:

    Hey LT – sure I think that DD still has a signficantly higher top end than JDD – but that says more about my opinion of JDD than anything else. People have critiqued me for being pro-DD and anti-JDD – but in reality I’m simply evaluating based on performance at key milestones: first year after being drafted, first and second years as a pro. Like I said – if all-star potential does not show signs of being there early in AAA – it’s unlikely that it will miraculously appear in the bigs. So unless DD suddenly starts doing what you need to do to be a high end NHL goaltender (ie playing at a consistently high level – not just spurts) then he’s simply another guy whose skill set is very replaceable in a market flooded with decent but not great goalies.

  43. Asiaoil says:

    PJO – being an elite goalie is tough….real tough. Lots of guys with big reps going into the pros end up average because the higher you go the tougher the shooters get and they WILL exploit any weaknesses. You don’t often get a period off let alone an easy night – and a bad goal is almost automatic without high-level concentration skills. By the time guys turn pro they all have talent – but what separates is the ability to bring it at a high level period after period without easing off…tough to do. That’s Dubnyk issue right now – and JDDs to a degree – they can’t sustain high level play.

  44. Chris says:

    I’m just going to write a quick note here saying “Bravo Hunter” that has to be the best piece of satire with regards to Hockey Futures that I’ve ever seen. I mean calling Schremp fast, Modano comparisons, leaping to wild conclusions after all of three games, greatest Oiler rookie since the dynasty? That’s just all comedy gold. I tip my hat to you sir for that was first rate satire.

  45. Dennis says:

    Obviously this Hunter guy’s taking a piss and I’m getting a big laugh out of it. As long as he can keep coming up with new stuff then I’m all about reading it.

    I mean c’mon boys, no one’s talking about 18 passing over the “C” and used a profile pic of the lead singer from Sweet without trying to be funny, right?

    I don’t have a friggin clue about Plante but I do know that we need a defender in our top four. A young Jason Smith would be fucking dandy right now. We’ve seen in the last two nights where Gilray tandem was getting killed because they wouldn’t knock anyone down and maybe the Wings could could do it with Lidstrom and Ralfski carrying the mail but even they had two guys with some edge like Kronwall and Stuart.

    Of all the kids we have coming up back on the blue they’re all the forward type and I’d like a defender.

  46. Lowetide says:

    Dennis: Theo Peckham is probably your man.

  47. Doogie2K says:

    @Dennis: I have no idea who to compare Plante to, but Gator definitely ain’t your man, sorry. Not nearly mean enough.

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