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).”